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Does the speed of eccentric contraction influence training outcomes for elite soccer players?

The following paper is from Nick Segers MSc project from St Marys University S&C course.


Background


Regular resistance training sessions during the in-season are challenging at the elite level due to frequent fixture congestion and minimal recovery time. Slow eccentric muscle actions may provide an additional metabolic stimulus that could be detrimental to short-term performance. compared to slower eccentric contractions, quicker submaximal contractions have been shown to elicit greater eccentric overload, even at lower eccentric loads. This ould be advantageous during periods of fixture congestion or for short periods of micro-dosing.


Therefore the aim of the study was to implement a short, in-season resistance training intervention and to examine the effect of fast speed vs slow speed eccentric muscle actions on lower body strength, vertical jump height, sprint speed and change of direction performance in elite soccer players during a competitive season.


What did they do?


22 elite-level professional soccer players from the top division of a European League

Fast-speed eccentric (1s ecc phase) vs slow-speed eccentric (4s ecc phase) contractions with maximal intent concentric contraction were compared during a five-week (2 x week) programme in season. The strength training program used can be seen in the figure below.


A 5-week program was conducted during an elite top-division European League soccer season. Performance measures including predicted 1-repetition-maximum back squat, countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, and change of direction were tested before and after the intervention period. Total match and training running distance and muscle soreness were also recorded during each week of the intervention.



Table 1. Resistance training programme


What did they find?


The main finding of the study where that there were no differences between groups for predicated 1RM. However, there was a moderate overall increase in 1RM (ES: 0.69). No difference was found between groups for 20 m sprint but there was a small overall increase across both groups pre- to post-intervention (ES: 0.34). CMJ showed significant group effects (P = 0.01), with a greater jump height for the 1S group post-intervention. There were also no differences between groups for change of direction performance.


Figure 1: Mean changes in predicted one-repetition-max (A), counter movement jump (B), 20 m sprint times (C), and change of direction (D). * Significant difference between groups post-intervention (P < 0.05).



Figure 2 shows muscle soreness, on-pitch total distance, and sprint distance across the four weeks for the 1s and 4s groups. No difference was found between groups for muscle soreness; however, there was a main effect (P < 0.001) across time. Muscle soreness was lower (P < 0.05) on weeks 2, 3, and 4 compared to week 1. The total distance across the week also had a significant effect across time (P < 0.001) but no difference between groups. Participants covered (P < 0.05) greater distance in weeks 2 and 4 compared to 1 and 3. No differences across weeks or between were found for sprint distance.


Figure 2: Changes in muscle soreness (A), total distance covered (B) and sprint distance (C) across the training intervention. * significant main effect difference from Week 1 (P < 0.05); # significant difference from Weeks 1, 3 and 4 (P < 0.05




Can we use this practically?


Shorter duration eccentric muscle actions are superior for increasing lower-body jumping movements in-season, among elite soccer players. The increased TUT of the eccentric muscle action may be detrimental to jumping performance and potentially not recommended for elite soccer players in-season.


PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS

(1). Eccentric contraction duration during resistance training programmes has no influence on changes in strength.

(2). Longer eccentric contractions attenuate CMJ height and should be avoided during a professional soccer season.

(3). Both sprint speed & change of direction is not limited by eccentric contraction duration during resistance training programmes

 

For a full text of the paper click on the following link: Nick Segers, Mark Waldron, Louis P. Howe, Stephen D. Patterson, Jason Moran, Ben Jones, Dawson J. Kidgell, and Jamie Tallent (2022). Fast-Speed Compared With Slow-Speed Eccentric Muscle Actions Are Detrimental to Jump Performance in Elite Soccer Players In-Season, IJSPP; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2021-0542


For an overview of what they did, you can watch the video abstract below on my Youtube Channel

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