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Predictors of Linear and Multidirectional Acceleration in Elite Soccer Players

Northeast, Jonathan1,4; Russell, Mark2; Shearer, David3; Cook, Christian J.5,6; Kilduff, Liam P.4,5

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 514–522
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001897
Original Research
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Jonathan, N, Russell, M, Shearer, D, Cook, CJ, and Kilduff, LP. Predictors of linear and multidirectional acceleration in elite soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 33(2): 514–522, 2019—Linear and multidirectional acceleration underpins success in professional soccer match play. However, the physical qualities that determine these performance indicators are poorly understood in elite players. English Premier League players (n = 26) performed isometric midthigh pulls (IMTPs), bilateral and unilateral drop jumps (from 40 and 20 cm, respectively), bilateral and unilateral countermovement jumps (CMJs), and assessments of linear (5, 10, and 20 m) and multidirectional (left and right preplanned and reactive) acceleration. Regression analyses highlighted that 21% of variance in 5-m sprint time (1.02 ± 0.07 seconds) was explained by relative peak power output (PPO) in bilateral CMJ (54.5 ± 5.3 W·kg−1). A 5.4 W·kg−1 increase in CMJ predicted a 0.03-second decrease in 5-m sprint time (P = 0.02). For 10-m sprint time (1.72 ± 0.09 seconds), 44% of variance was explained by isometric relative peak force ([PF]; 30.4 ± 4.9 N·kg−1) and bilateral relative CMJ PPO (54.5 ± 5.3 W·kg−1). A 5.4 W·kg−1 increase in CMJ predicted reduced 10-m sprint times by 0.04 seconds (P = 0.01). For 20-m sprint time (2.94 ± 0.11 seconds), 55% of the total variance was explained by isometric relative PF (30.4 ± 4.9 N·kg−1) and relative CMJ PPO (54.5 ± 5.3 W·kg−1). Increases of 5.4 W·kg−1 in bilateral CMJ predicted an improvement of 20-m sprint time by 0.06 seconds (P = 0.002). Contributions were insignificant (P > 0.05) for preplanned and reactive multidirectional acceleration. Relativized indices, especially those related to force production during CMJ and IMTP tests, likely underpin linear but not multidirectional acceleration performance in professional soccer players. When linear acceleration is a training focus, practitioners should seek to monitor CMJ and IMTP test performance.

1Department of Sports Science, Swansea City AFC, Swansea, United Kingdom;

2School of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, United Kingdom;

3Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, United Kingdom;

4Applied Sports Technology Exercise and Medicine Research Center (A-STEM), Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom;

5Welsh Institute of Performance Sciences (WIPS), Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom; and

6School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Liam Kilduff, l.kilduff@swansea.ac.uk.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.