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.