Purpose: This study aimed to compare the effects of 5 different 18-week in-season strength training programs on strength gains and specific water polo performance. Methods: A total of 56 young male water polo players were randomly assigned to the following 5 training groups: dry-land strength training, in-water-specific strength training, combined (dry-land and in-water) strength training, ballistic training, and eccentric-overload training. Physical performance was assessed before (Pre) and after (Post) the training period using the following battery of tests: in-water boost and countermovement jump, muscle strength in bench-press and full-squat, throwing speed (ThS), in-water agility, and 20-m maximal sprint swim. Results: Significant group × time interactions were observed for countermovement jump and in-water boost. Eccentric-overload training showed significantly higher gains in ThS and bench-press and full-squat strength than the rest of the training groups. In addition, all training groups (except in-water-specific strength training) induced significant improvements (P ≤ .05) in countermovement jump, in-water boost, and bench-press and full-squat strength. All training groups significantly increased (P ≤ .001) ThS. Moreover, all training groups improved (P ≤ .05) in-water agility (except dry-land strength training) and swimming sprint performance (except in-water-specific strength training and ballistic training). Conclusion: The findings indicate that the 18-week in-season strength training programs induced improvements in strength and specific water polo skills. The eccentric-overload training resulted in greater improvements in muscle strength (in both upper and lower body) and ThS than the other training methods examined in the study.
Manuel Santiago Martin, Fernando Pareja Blanco, and Eduardo Saez De Villarreal
Theodoros Kannas, Eleftherios Kellis, Fotini Arampatzi, and Eduardo Saez Saez de Villarreal
The aim of this study was to examine the differences in muscle architecture during isometric tests between children and adults. Eight boys (age= 11.2 ± 0.26 years) and eight men (age= 22.3 ± 2.01 years) performed plantar flexion isometric efforts at angles of -15°, 0°, 15° at 0%, 40%, 60%, 80% of MVC. Analysis of variance tests indicated that adults showed greater fascicle length from rest to 80% of MVC (p < .05), greater pennation angle at 80% and 100% of MVC (p < .05) and greater aponeuroses displacement at levels of effort greater than 60% of MVC (p < .05). These differences observed in MG would appear to favor better utilization of the force-length and the force-velocity relationships, of the muscle in adults compared with children.
Jaime Fernandez-Fernandez, Eduardo Sáez De Villarreal, David Sanz-Rivas, and Manuel Moya
The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of an 8-week (conducted biweekly for a total of 16 sessions) plyometric training program (PT) (e.g., upper- and lower-body exercises) combined with regular tennis training on physical qualities in young tennis players.
Sixty tennis players between the ages of 12 and 13 years (age 12.5 ± 0.3 years, weight 44.2 ± 7.0 kg, height 156.6 ± 7.1 cm) were allocated to either the control group (standard in-season regimen) (CG; n = 30) or the experimental group, which received an additional PT (TG; n = 30) for 30–60 min as a substitute for some tennis training within the usual 90-min practice.
Pre- and posttests included: anthropometric measures; vertical countermovement jump (CMJ); standing long jump (SLJ); 20 m sprint time (with 5 and 10 m splits); a modified 505 agility test; overhead medicine ball throw; and serve velocity test.
After the training intervention, the TG showed significant (p < .01) improvements in all the parameters analyzed, with percentages of change and effect sizes ranging from 3.1% to 10.1% and 0.4 (small) to 1.3 (moderate), respectively. No significant changes were observed in the CG after the training intervention.
PT was shown as an important stimulus for enhancing explosive actions in young tennis players.
Abbas Asadi, Hamid Arazi, Warren B. Young, and Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal
To show a clear picture about the possible variables of enhancements of change-of-direction (COD) ability using longitudinal plyometric-training (PT) studies and determine specific factors that influence the training effects.
A computerized search was performed, and 24 articles with a total of 46 effect sizes (ESs) in an experimental group and 25 ESs in a control group were reviewed to analyze the role of various factors on the impact of PT on COD performance.
The results showed that participants with good fitness levels obtained greater improvements in COD performance (P < .05), and basketball players gained more benefits of PT than other athletes. Also, men obtained COD results similar to those of women after PT. In relation to the variables of PT design, it appears that 7 wk (with 2 sessions/wk) using moderate intensity and 100 jumps per training session with a 72-h rest interval tends to improve COD ability. Performing PT with a combination of different types of plyometric exercises such as drop jumps + vertical jumps + standing long jumps is better than 1 form of exercise.
It is apparent that PT can be effective at improving COD ability. The loading parameters are essential for exercise professionals, coaches, and strength and conditioning professionals with regard to the most appropriate dose-response trends to optimize plyometric-induced COD-ability gains.
Javier Raya-González, Luis Suárez-Arrones, Archit Navandar, Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández, and Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal
Context: As the number of injuries in young soccer players increases, an epidemiological study is the first step in improving preventive strategies. Objectives: To analyze the injury profile of a Spanish professional soccer club’s academy during 4 consecutive seasons and to examine the injury incidence across different chronological age groups. Design: Prospective cohort design. Setting: Aggregate injury and exposure data collected during 4 consecutive seasons. Participants: Three hundred nine elite male young soccer players. Main Outcomes Measures: Injuries that led to participation time missed from training and match play prospectively reported by medical or coaching staff of the club. Results: A total of 464 time-loss injuries were observed during this study period. The overall injury incidence was 2.93 injuries per 1000 hours, with higher incidence during matches than during training (10.16 vs 2.10 injuries/1000 h; rate ratio [RR] = 0.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17–0.25; P < .05), with the U14 age group presenting the lowest injury rate (2.39 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.15–1.57; P < .05). In terms of injury severity, moderate injuries were the most frequent (1.42 injuries/1000 h). Muscle injuries were the most common type of injuries (57.7%; 2.75 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.84–13.4; P < .05), and hamstrings (93/268) were the most affected muscle group (0.58 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.58–2.91; P < .05). Injury incidence showed a seasonal variation as indicated by peaks in August and October. In matches, specifically, the match period between 75 and 90 minutes showed the highest injury incidence (10.29 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.89–6.38; P < .01). Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that specific preventive strategies must be implemented to try to reduce the injury incidence in Spanish elite young soccer players attending to the characteristics of each age group.
Nacho Torreño, Diego Munguía-Izquierdo, Aaron Coutts, Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal, Jose Asian-Clemente, and Luis Suarez-Arrones
To analyze the match running profile, distance traveled over successive 15 min of match play, heart rates (HRs), and index of performance efficiency (effindex) of professional soccer players with a global positioning system (GPS) and HR in official competition.
Twenty-six professional players were investigated during full matches in competitive club-level matches (N = 223). Time–motion data and HR were collected using GPS and HR technology.
The relative total distance was 113 ± 11 m/min, with substantial differences between halves. For all playing positions, a substantial decrease in total distance and distance covered at >13.0 km/h was observed in the second half in comparison with the first. The decrease during the second half in distance covered at >13.0 km/h was substantially higher than in total distance. The average HR recorded was 86.0% maximal HR, and the relationship between external and internal load (effindex) was 1.3, with substantial differences between halves in all playing positions, except strikers for effindex. Wide midfielders reflected substantially the lowest mean HR and highest effindex, whereas center backs showed substantially the lowest effindex of all playing positions.
The current study confirmed the decrement in a player’s performance toward the end of a match in all playing positions. Wide midfielders displayed the highest and fittest levels of physical and physiological demands, respectively, whereas center backs had the lowest and least-fit levels of physical and physiological demands, respectively. The position-specific relationship between external and internal load confirms that players with more overall running performance during the full match were the best in effindex.
Fernando Pareja-Blanco, Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal, Beatriz Bachero-Mena, Ricardo Mora-Custodio, José Antonio Asián-Clemente, Irineu Loturco, and David Rodríguez-Rosell
Purpose: This study aimed to compare the effects of unresisted versus heavy sled sprint training (0% vs 40% body mass [BM]) on sprint performance in women. Moreover, the effects of the aforementioned loads on resisted sprint and jump performance were analyzed. Methods: Twenty-eight physically active women were randomly allocated into 2 groups: unloaded sprint training group (G0%, n = 14), and resisted sprint training with 40% BM group (G40%, n = 14). Pretraining and posttraining assessments included countermovement jump, unloaded 30-m sprint, and 20-m sprint with 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM. Times to cover 0 to 10 (T10), 0 to 20 (T20), 0 to 30 (T30), 10 to 20 (T10–20), 20 to 30 (T20–30), and 10 to 30 m (T10–30) were recorded. Both groups were trained once a week for 8 weeks and completed the same training program, but with different loads (0% vs 40% BM). Results: No significant time × group interactions were observed. For unloaded sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .027) decreases only in T10–20, while G40% attained significant decreases in T30 (P = .021), T10–30 (P = .015), and T20–30 (P = .003). Regarding resisted sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .010) improvements only for the 20% BM condition. The G40% group attained significant improvements in all loading conditions (20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM). Both groups showed significant improvements (P < .001) in countermovement jump height. Conclusions: In physically active women, no significant differences in sprint and countermovement jump performance were detected after 8 weeks of resisted and unresisted sprint training programs. Future studies should, therefore, be devoted to how sprint training should be individualized to maximize performance.