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Monday, June 13, 2011

CAN WE IMPROVE SPRINT WITH STRENGTH TRAINING IN ELITE PLAYERS?


This is an interesting question for coaches and sport scientists. Although there some data in the literature, they mostly refer to moderate level players. In the study by Helgerund et al. (2011) 21 elite players, all from a successful team in the Champions League, performed strength training for maximal strength improvement 2 times per week for the pre-season 8-week period. They did 4 sets at loads equal to 4 maximal repetitions of half-squat with emphasis on the concentric action. No specific sprint training was performed apart from drills in small sided games. Similarly, no jump training was executed. Training hours and relative intensities in a week were
  • Stretching, 1.5 hr
  • Endurance training (without ball) 1.5 h (90-95% max heart rate)
  • Small sided games, 2.5 hr (85-90% heart rate max)
  • Technical training, 2 hr
  • Strength training, 1 hr
  • Match play, 1.5 hr (85-90% heart rate max)

After 8 weeks, countermovement jump (CMJ) was improved by 5.2% (from 57.2 to 60.2 cm) and 10m run by 3.2 % (from 1.87 to 1.81 sec). Although, absolute changes might make the difference at elite level, we can notice that
  • This is an improvement worth noting given that players were elite level
  • Improvements in half-squat maximal strength were associated with improvement in legs’ explosiveness
  • A big improvement in max strength (52%) resulted only in a small improvement in CMJ and 10m run. This highlights the need for more specific exercises to transfer gains in strength from the gym into the match activities.

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