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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

The purpose of this investigation was to compare sprint and countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance among female 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 elite players over a 15-y period.

Methods:

194 female elite players (22± 4.1 y, 63 ± 5.6 kg), including an Olympic winning squad, tested 40-m sprint with electronic timing and CMJ on a force platform at the Norwegian Olympic training center from 1995 to 2010.

Results:

Moderate to large velocity differences across performance levels and positions were observed. National-team players were 2% faster than 1st-division players (P = .027, d = 0.5) and 5% faster than 2nd-division players (P < .001, d = 1.3) over 0–20 m. National-team players jumped 8–9% higher than 1st-division players (P = .001, d = 0.6) and junior elite players (P = .023, d = 0.5). Forwards were 3–4% faster than midfielders (P < .001, d = 0.8) and goalkeepers (P = .003, d = 0.9) over 0–20 m. No differences in velocity or CMJ height were observed among the age categories. Players from 2006–2010 were 2% faster (P < .05, d = 0.6) than players from 1995–1999 over 20 m, whereas no differences in 20- to 40-m velocity or CMJ performance were observed.

Conclusions:

This study provides effect-magnitude estimates for the influence of performance level, age, and player position on sprint and CMJ performance in female soccer players. While 20- to 40-m velocity and CMJ performance have remained stable over the time, there has been a moderate but positive development in 0- to 20-m velocity among elite performers.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Felix Breitschädel and Stephen Seiler

Purpose: To quantify possible differences in sprint mechanical outputs in handball and basketball players according to playing standard and position. Methods: Sprint tests of 298 male players were analyzed. Theoretical maximal velocity (v 0), horizontal force (F 0), horizontal power (P max), force–velocity slope (S FV), ratio of force (RFmax), and index of force application technique (D RF) were calculated from anthropometric and spatiotemporal data using an inverse dynamic approach applied to the center-of-mass movement. Results: National-team handball players displayed clearly superior 10-m times (0.03, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.12, ±0.07 s), F 0 (0.1, ±0.2 N·kg−1), v 0 (0.3, ±0.2 m·s−1), and P max (0.9, ±0.5 W·kg−1) than corresponding top-division players. Wings differed from the other positions in terms of superior 10-m times (0.02, ±0.01 to 0.07, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.07, ±0.05 to 0.27, ±0.07 s), F 0 (0.2, ±0.1 to 0.4, ±0.2 N·kg−1), v 0 (0.1, ±0.1 to 0.5, ±0.1 m·s−1), P max (0.7, ±0.4 to 2.0, ±0.5 W·kg−1), and RFmax (0.6, ±0.4 to 1.3, ±0.4%). In basketball, guards differed from forwards in terms of superior 10-m times (0.03, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.10, ±0.08 s), v 0 (0.2, ±0.1 m·s−1), P max (0.6, ±0.6 W·kg−1), and RFmax (0.4, ±0.3%). The effect magnitudes of the substantial differences observed ranged from small to large. Conclusions: The present results provide an overall picture of the force–velocity profile continuum in sprinting handball and basketball players and serve as useful background information for practitioners when diagnosing individual players and prescribing training programs.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Jonny Hisdal and Stephen Seiler

The overall objective of this review was to investigate the role and development of sprinting speed in soccer. Time–motion analyses show that short sprints occur frequently during soccer games. Straight sprinting is the most frequent action before goals, both for the scoring and assisting player. Straight-line sprinting velocity (both acceleration and maximal sprinting speed), certain agility skills, and repeated-sprint ability are shown to distinguish groups from different performance levels. Professional players have become faster over time, indicating that sprinting skills are becoming more and more important in modern soccer. In research literature, the majority of soccer-related training interventions have provided positive effects on sprinting capabilities, leading to the assumption that all kinds of training can be performed with success. However, most successful intervention studies are time consuming and challenging to incorporate into the overall soccer training program. Even though the principle of specificity is clearly present, several questions remain regarding the optimal training methods within the larger context of the team-sport setting. Considering time-efficiency effects, soccer players may benefit more by performing sprint-training regimens similar to the progression model used in strength training and by world-leading athletics practitioners, compared with the majority of guidelines that traditionally have been presented in research literature.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Paul A. Solberg, Carl Foster, Ricardo Morán-Navarro, Felix Breitschädel and Will G. Hopkins

The aim of this study was to quantify peak age and improvements over the preceding years to peak age in elite athletic contestants according to athlete performance level, sex, and discipline. Individual season bests for world-ranked top 100 athletes from 2002 to 2016 (14,937 athletes and 57,049 individual results) were downloaded from the International Association of Athletics Federations’ website. Individual performance trends were generated by fitting a quadratic curve separately to each athlete’s performance and age data using a linear modeling procedure. Mean peak age was typically 25–27 y, but somewhat higher for marathon and male throwers (∼28–29 y). Women reached greater peak age than men in the hurdles and middle- and long-distance running events (mean difference, ±90% CL: 0.6, ±0.3 to 1.9, ±0.3 y: small to moderate). Male throwers had greater peak age than corresponding women (1.3, ±0.3 y: small). Throwers displayed the greatest performance improvements over the 5 y prior to peak age (mean [SD]: 7.0% [2.9%]), clearly ahead of jumpers, long-distance runners, hurdlers, middle-distance runners, and sprinters (3.4, ±0.2% to 5.2, ±0.2%; moderate to large). Similarly, top 10 athletes showed greater improvements than top 11–100 athletes in all events (1.0, ±0.9% to 1.8, ±1.1%; small) except throws. Women improved more than men in all events (0.4, ±0.2% to 2.9, ±0.4%) except sprints. This study provides novel insight on performance development in athletic contestants that are useful for practitioners when setting goals and evaluating strategies for achieving success.

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Paul A. Solberg, Will G. Hopkins, Gøran Paulsen and Thomas A. Haugen

Purpose: To quantify age of peak performance and performance improvements in the years preceding peak age in elite weightlifting and powerlifting athletes using results from powerlifting World Championships in 2003–2017 and weightlifting World Championships and Olympic Games in 1998–2017. Methods: Individual performance trends were derived by fitting a quadratic curve separately to each athlete’s performance and age data. Effects were evaluated using magnitude-based inferences. Results: Peak age (mean [SD]) was 35 (7) y for powerlifters and 26 (3) y for weightlifters, a large most likely substantial difference of 9, ±1 y (mean, 90% confidence limit). Men showed possibly higher peak age than women in weightlifting (0.8, ±0.7 y; small) and a possibly lower peak age in powerlifting (1.3, ±1.8 y; trivial). Peak age of athletes who ever won a medal was very likely less than that of nonmedalists in weightlifting (1.3, ±0.6 y; small), while the difference in powerlifters was trivial but unclear. Five-year improvements prior to peak age were 12% (10%) for powerlifters and 9% (7%) for weightlifters, a small possibly substantial difference (2.9, ±2.1%). Women exhibited possibly greater improvements than men in powerlifting (2.7, ±3.8%; small) and very likely greater in weightlifting (3.5, ±1.6%; small). Medalists possibly improved less than nonmedalists among powerlifters (−1.7, ±2.3%; small), while the difference was likely trivial for weightlifters (2.3, ±1.8%). Conclusion: These novel insights on performance development will be useful for practitioners evaluating strategies for achieving success.

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Espen Tønnessen, Vegard Rasdal, Ida S. Svendsen, Thomas A. Haugen, Erlend Hem and Øyvind Sandbakk

Performing at an elite level in Nordic combined (NC) requires both the explosiveness required for ski jumping performance and the endurance capacity required for cross-country skiing.

Purpose:

To describe the characteristics of world-class NC athletes’ training and determine how endurance and non–endurance (ie, strength, power, and ski jumping) training is periodized.

Methods:

Annual training characteristics and the periodization of endurance and non–endurance training were determined by analyzing the training diaries of 6 world-class NC athletes.

Results:

Of 846 ± 72 annual training hours, 540 ± 37 h were endurance training, with 88.6% being low-, 5.9% moderate-, and 5.5% high-intensity training. While training frequency remained relatively constant, the total training volume was reduced from the general preparatory to the competition phase, primarily due to less low- and moderate-intensity training (P < .05). A total of 236 ± 55 h/y were spent as non–endurance training, including 211 ± 44 h of power and ski-jump-specific training (908 ± 165 ski jumps and ski-jump imitations). The proportion of non–endurance training increased significantly toward the competition phase (P < .05).

Conclusion:

World-class NC athletes reduce the volume of low- and moderate-intensity endurance training toward the competition phase, followed by an increase in the relative contribution of power and ski-jump training. These data provide novel insight on how successful athletes execute their training and may facilitate more-precise coaching of future athletes in this sport. In addition, this information is of high relevance for the training organization of other sports that require optimization of 2 fundamentally different physical capacities.

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Espen Tønnessen, Ida S. Svendsen, Bent R. Rønnestad, Jonny Hisdal, Thomas A. Haugen and Stephen Seiler

One year of training data from 8 elite orienteers were divided into a transition phase (TP), general preparatory phase (GPP), specific preparatory phase (SPP), and competition phase (CP). Average weekly training volume and frequency, hours at different intensities (zones 1–3), cross-training, running, orienteering, interval training, continuous training, and competition were calculated. Training volume was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (14.9 vs 9.7, 11.5, and 10.6 h/wk, P < .05). Training frequency was higher in GPP than TP (10 vs 7.5 sessions/wk, P < .05). Zone 1 training was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (11.3 vs 7.1, 8.3, and 7.7 h/wk, P < .05). Zone 3 training was higher in SPP and CP than in TP and GPP (0.9 and 1.1 vs 1.6 and 1.5 h/wk, P < .05). Cross-training was higher in GPP than SPP and CP (4.3 vs 0.8 h/wk, P < .05). Interval training was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (0.7 vs 0.3 h/wk, P < .05). High-intensity continuous training was higher in GPP than CP (0.9 vs 0.4 h/wk, P < .05), while competition was higher in SPP and CP than in TP and GPP (1.3 and 1.5 vs 0.6 and 0.3 h/wk, P < .01). In conclusion, these champion endurance athletes achieved a progressive reduction in total training volume from GPP to CP via a shortening of each individual session while the number of training sessions remained unchanged. This decrease in training volume was primarily due to a reduction in the number of hours of low-intensity, non-sport-specific cross-training.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Erlend Hem, Svein Leirstein and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

To quantify VO2max among female competitive soccer players as a function of performance level, field position, and age. In addition, the evolution of VO2max among world-class players over an 18-y period was quantified.

Methods:

Female players (N = 199, 22 ± 4 y, 63 ± 6 kg, height 169 ± 6 cm), including an Olympic winning squad, were tested for VO2max at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1989 and 2007.

Results:

National-team players had 5% higher VO2max than 1st-division players (P = .042, d = 0.4), 13% higher than 2nd-division players (P < .001, d = 1.2), and 9% higher than junior players (P = .005, d = 1.0). Midfielders had 8% higher VO2max than goalkeepers (P = .048, d = 1.1). No significant differences were observed across outfield players or different age categories. There was a trend toward lower relative VO2max across time epochs.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrated that VO2max varies across playing-standard level in women’s soccer. No significant differences in VO2max were observed across outfield positions and age categories. Over time, there has been a slight negative development in VO2max among elite Norwegian soccer players.