Previous studies have shown that maximum oxygen uptake (aerobic fitness) can be improved with high intensity interval running in football players. Running intensity should be 90-95% of maximum heart rate during this type of training and the bouts should last 4 minutes.
Can we do the same while dribbling a soccer ball?
In a study by McMillan et al (2005), 11 17-year old football players supplemented their regular football training with high intensity aerobic training for 10 weeks. Aerobic training consisted of 4 4-min high intensity periods by dribbling the ball in a football specific track. Heart rate was 90-95% of maximal during these periods. High intensity periods were separated by 3-min jogging at 70% of maximum heart rate. This training was performed 2 times a week at the end of the session.
Figure. Soccer specific dribbling track used for high intensity interval training sessions (Chamari et al., BJSM 2005).
- Aerobic fitness improved by about 10% in these players.
- This is a big improvement considering the high initial value for maximum oxygen uptake in these players (63.4 ml/kg/min).
Take home messages
- It seems that maximum oxygen uptake can be improved with high intensity interval training while dribbling the ball in high level players.
- Heart rate should be 90-95% of maximum in this training and this requires high technical skills.
- Accordingly, I think that this is an effective training for high level players. However, the effectiveness of this training in improving aerobic fitness in lower level players should be examined.
McMillan et al (2005). Physiological adaptations to soccer specific endurance training in professional youth soccer players. Br J Sports Med 39(5): 273–277.