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To compare sprint and countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance among competitive soccer players as a function of performance level, field position, and age. In addition, the authors wanted to quantify the evolution of these physical characteristics among professional players over a 15-y period.
939 athletes (22.1 ± 4.3 y), including national-team players, tested 40-m sprint with electronic timing and CMJ on a force platform at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1995 and 2010.
National-team and 1st-division players were faster (P < .05) than 2nd-division (1.0–1.4%), 3rd- to 5th-division (3.0–3.8%), junior national-team (1.7–2.2%), and junior players (2.8–3.7%). Forwards were faster than defenders (1.4%), midfielders (2.5%), and goalkeepers (3.2%) over 0–20 m (P < .001). Midfielders jumped ~2.0 cm lower than the other playing positions (P < .05). Sprinting velocity peaked in the age range 20–28 y and declined significantly thereafter (P < .05). Players from 2006–2010 had 1–2% faster 0–20 m and peak velocity than players from the 1995–1999 and 2000–2005 epochs, whereas no differences in CMJ performance were observed.
This study provides effect-magnitude estimates for the influence of performance level, position, and age on sprint and CMJ performance in soccer. While CMJ performance has remained stable over the time, there has been a small but positive development in sprinting velocity among professional players.
Haugen and Tønnessen are with the Norwegian Olympic Federation, Oslo, Norway. Seiler is with the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway.