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  • Author: Juanma Santisteban x
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Matt Spencer, David Pyne, Juanma Santisteban and Iñigo Mujika

Variations in rates of growth and development in young football players can influence relationships among various fitness qualities.

Purpose:

To investigate the relationships between repeated-sprint ability and other fundamental fitness qualities of acceleration, agility, explosive leg power, and aerobic conditioning through the age groups of U1 1 to U18 in highly trained junior football players.

Methods:

Male players (n = 119) across the age groups completed a fitness assessment battery over two testing sessions. The first session consisted of countermovement jumps without and with arm swing, 15-m sprint run, 15-m agility run, and the 20-m Shuttle Run (U11 to U15) or the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, Level 1 (U16 to U18). The players were tested for repeated-sprint ability in the second testing session using a protocol of 6 × 30-m sprints on 30 s with an active recovery.

Results:

The correlations of repeated-sprint ability with the assorted fitness tests varied considerably between the age groups, especially for agility (r = .02 to .92) and explosive leg power (r = .04 to .84). Correlations of repeated sprint ability with acceleration (r = .48 to .93) and aerobic conditioning (r = .28 to .68) were less variable with age.

Conclusion:

Repeated-sprint ability associates differently with other fundamental fitness tests throughout the teenage years in highly trained football players, although stabilization of these relationships occurs by the age of 18 y. Coaches in junior football should prescribe physical training accounting for variations in short-term disruptions or impairment of physical performance during this developmental period.

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Iñigo Mujika, Juanma Santisteban, Paco Angulo and Sabino Padilla

A 7-week, 10-session individual training program was implemented with a youth elite football (soccer) player who had been underperforming because of poor aerobic fitness. The intervention focused on developing aerobic power and high lactate production and contributed to a 32.3% improvement in a football-specific performance test. The player was able to return to play and exceed expected performance levels during competitive match play.