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Variability of Objective and Subjective Intensities During Ball Drills in Youth Soccer Players

Los Arcos, Asier1; Martínez-Santos, Raúl2; Yanci, Javier2; Martín, Juan1; Castagna, Carlo3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 3 - p 752–757
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a47f0b
Original Research

Arcos, AL, Martínez-Santos, R, Yanci, J, Martín, J, and Castagna, C. Variability of objective and subjective intensities during ball drills in youth soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 28(3): 752–757, 2014—The aim of this study was to examine the intrasubject (intraclass coefficient correlation [ICC]) and intersubject variability (coefficient of variation [CV]) of soccer ball drills (BD) involving or not opposition in male youth soccer. For this purpose, a collective ball dribbling (DB) exercise and a 7-a-side ball game without coach encouragements were considered. Exercise intensity was assessed as heart rate (HR), training load (TL), and perceived exertion scales. Fourteen U-14 male soccer players (age, 14.79 ± 0.43 years and experience, 6.5 years) of a Spanish First Division club academy participated in the study. Ball drills were examined for variability over 5 successive training sessions in similar field conditions. Results showed that 7-a-side was significantly (p = 0.000) more demanding than DB. Indeed the TL, HRmax, HRmean, overall perceived exertion, and leg muscular perceived exertion (MPE) resulted 141, 8.7, 11, 56, and 72%, higher in 7-a-side than in DB, respectively. In the 7-a-side condition, good intersubject (CV < 10%) and low intrasubject (ICC < 0.7) variability were observed. In the DB condition, CVs were below 10% CV only for HR variables and the ICC values were higher than 0.7 only for MPE. Despite the moderate reproducibility of BD not considering opponents, this condition did not reveal to induce homogeneous physiological responses in young soccer players. Therefore, the use of this kind of drills may be questionable when considered as alternative of moderate intensity generic aerobic training. Despite the higher interaction between players variability in the opposition drills resulted lower, this suggests their use as a specific conditioning exercise.

1Club Atlético Osasuna, Pamplona, Spain;

2Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Science, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gastéiz, Spain; and

3Technical Department, Football Training and Biomechanics Laboratory, Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Florence, Italy

Address correspondence to Carlo Castagna,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.