This study examined the effects of loaded (LPJT) and unloaded (UPJT) plyometric jump training programmes on measures of muscle power, speed, change-of-direction and kicking-distance performance in prepubertal male soccer players.
Participants (N=29) were randomly assigned to a LPJT group (n=13; age=13.0±0.7 years) using weighted vests or UPJT group (n=16; age=13.0±0.5 years) using body mass only. Before and after the intervention, tests for the assessment of proxies of muscle power (i.e., countermovement-jump [CMJ], standing-long-jump [SLJ]), speed (i.e., 5-m, 10-m, and 20-m sprint), change-of-direction (i.e., Illinois change-of-direction test [ICoDT], modified 505 agility test), and kicking-distance test were conducted. Data were analysed using magnitude-based inferences.
Within-group analyses for the LPJT group showed large and very large improvements for 10-m sprint-time (effect size [ES]=2.00) and modified 505 CoD (ES=2.83) tests, respectively. For the same group, moderate improvements were observed in ICoDT (ES=0.61), 5- and 20-m sprint-time (ES=1.00 for both tests), CMJ (ES=1.00) and MKD (ES=0.90). Small enhancements in the SLJ (ES=0.50) test were apparent. Regarding the UPJT group, small improvements were observed for all tests (ES=0.33 to 0.57) except 5-m and 10-m sprint-time (ES=1.00 and 0.63, respectively). Between-group analyses favored the LPJT group for the modified 505 CoD (ES=0.61), SLJ (ES=0.50), and MKD (ES=0.57) tests, but not for 5-m sprint-time (ES=1.00). Only trivial between-group differences were shown for the remaining tests (ES=0.00 to 0.09).
Overall, LPJT appears to be more effective than UPJT in improving measures of muscle power, speed, change-of-direction and kicking-distance performance in prepubertal male soccer players.