In other studies, the enhancement in maximum kicking performance was accompanied by increases in the performance of muscular strength tests like sprint (41,50,52–55,64), CMJ (12,39–41,53–55), and other strength (Isometric) measurements (10,39–41,62).
It should be noted that a few studies have been conducted in professional soccer players. Trolle et al. (63) and Aagaard (1) did not find a significant improvement in maximal kicking velocity in professional soccer players after strength training with several intensities with (1) and without (63) regular soccer training. Although, both studies reported improvements in knee extension strength, those results were not accompanied by an increase in the maximal kicking velocity.
In this article, we review the existing data about strength and ball kicking velocity in soccer. We focus on the relationship between both parameters and also the effects of strength training on maximum ball velocity. The main outcomes of this review indicate that the relationship between strength and kicking velocity in soccer is inconsistent. In addition, strength training programs seem to enhance maximal ball kicking velocity although its effectiveness is questionable in elite soccer players.
In general, soccer players are stronger than nonsoccer players and differences in strength can be found among players from different divisions (11,49). However, it is not possible to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the maximal strength and kicking performance (65) according to studies using maximal isokinetic or full squat tests (5,11,15,19,38,44,46–47,51,60). Therefore, neither isokinetic torque nor maximal full squat seems to be a good predictor of ball velocity. It is likely that those tests do not reproduce the muscular demands involved in the soccer kick.
It is reasonable to assume that tests involving explosive muscular actions could be more suitable when exploring the relationship between strength training and ball kicking velocity, than the above-mentioned tests. Vertical jumps or sprints have been the most common tests used to explore the relationship between explosive strength and ball kicking velocity. However, the small number of studies and their contradictory findings (11,13,15,23,28–31,61) make it difficult to reach a definitive conclusion about this relationship. It is important to note that the performance of vertical jumps required familiarization sessions to obtain reliable data. Most of those studies did not report whether or not such familiarization sessions were conducted, thus, we cannot assess an association between vertical jumps and ball kicking velocities.
We suggest that soccer-specific strength tests, like a maximal kicking test, should be included in the selection of young soccer players and in the elite adult soccer player's training process to guide and control their progress, because this test closely reflects the role of muscles used in this action.
The effects of fatigue on soccer kick performance have only been studied by a few researchers. There is an agreement that after implementation of different fatigue protocols, there is a significant decrease in ball kicking velocity (6,33,34). This could be attributed to alterations of the force generation capacity and a poorer intersegmental coordination. However, no researchers have examined the effects of actual match fatigue in maximum kicking velocity. Therefore, we do not have available information about how muscle fatigue could be related to impairment in ball kicking velocity during a real match. This is because, in part, to explore that relationship during an actual match would be a challenge. The simulation of a real game with small pauses to perform explosive strength tests (i.e., vertical jumps and maximal kicking test) could be an interesting approach.
Previously, we have suggested that less than 5 trials seems to be adequate to avoid the fatigue effect and maintain high kinematics and kinetic responses, when measuring the maximum kicking velocity (34). Although this is interesting for evaluation purposes, it does not represent a real situation, where it is unlikely that a player can perform more than 4 maximal kicks in a 2 minute period as in Khorasani's study (34).
Based on the review of literature, it is difficult to reach a final conclusion about the efficacy of strength training programs in improving the ball kicking velocity. Several factors can account for the different results across studies such as: (a) the heterogeneous profile of the samples (from amateurs to elite soccer players); (b) a disparity of the features of the strength training programs (from isokinetic to plyometric exercises), and (c) the inclusion of regular soccer training sessions during the strength programs. Nevertheless, we can speculate in the following paragraphs the role of those factors in the efficacy of the strength training programs.
From the diversity of training programs reviewed in the current study, it seems that the most effective approaches to improve ball kicking velocity of the programs reviewed are those that combine explosive strength training with regular soccer training. The lack of improvement in training programs that include isokinetic strength exercises (1,63) could be expected to be according to the poor specificity between isokinetic and kicking performances (see previous discussion about this issue). However, the use of plyometric exercises in the form of vertical or horizontal jumps could lead to improvements in ball kicking velocity (23,53,54) even in combination with isometric strength exercises (23). In those studies, the increases in maximum kicking velocity were accompanied by an increase in the performance of countermovement jumps. Another important factor is whether or not the strength training program is combined with regular soccer training or technical kicking training. From all the studies that lead to improvements in ball kicking velocity, 94.1% of them (1,4,10,12,16,23,27,39–41,50,52–55,62) combined strength and regular soccer training. Therefore, this supports Aagaard's suggestion (1) that strength training should be integrated with other types of training, involving the actual movement pattern to increase the performance within more complex movement patterns.
The current review explores the existing data about the relationship between strength tests and ball kicking velocity and the efficacy of the strength training programs. The results of this review suggest that tests such as isokinetic, 1RM, or vertical jumps are not strongly related to maximal kicking velocity. Thus, their role in understanding the force requirements during soccer ball kicking is questionable. In addition, the development of a strength training program with the goal of improving the ball kicking velocity must include explosive strength exercises in combination with regular soccer training. We also recommend evaluation in the efficacy of those programs by a direct measurement of ball kicking movement (i.e., by radar) rather than other strength measurements.
1. Aagaard P, Simonsen E, Trolle M, Bangsbo J, Klausen K. Specificity of training velocity and training load on gains in isokinetic knee joint strength. Acta Physiol Scand 156: 123–129, 1996.
2. Ali A, Williams C, Hulse M, Strudwick A, Reddin J, Howarth L, Eldred J, Hirst M, McGregor S. Reliability and validity of two tests of soccer skill. J Sports Sci 25: 1461–1470, 2007.
3. Andersen T. Collisions in soccer kicking. Sports Eng 2: 21–125, 1999.
4. Andersen TB, Dörge HC. The influence of speed of approach and accuracy constraint on the maximal speed of the ball in soccer kicking. Scand J Med Sci Sports 21: 79–84, 2011.
5. Anthrakidis N, Skoufas D, Lazaridis S, Zaggelidis G. Relationship between muscular strength and kicking performance. Phys Train 10: 2, 2008.
6. Apriantono T, Nunome H, Ikegami Y, Sano S. The effect of muscle fatigue on instep kicking kinetics and kinematics in association football. J Sports Sci 24: 951–960, 2006.
7. Asami T, Nolte V. Analysis of powerful ball kicking. Biomechanics VIII-B 4: 965–970, 1983.
8. Bacvarevic BB, Pazin N, Bozic PR, Mirkov D, Kukolj M, Jaric S. Evaluation of a composite test of kicking performance. J Strength Cond Res 26: 1945–1952, 2012.
9. Ball K. Loading and performance of the support leg in kicking. J Sci Med Sport 16: 455–459, 2013.
10. Billot M, Martin A, Paizis C, Cometti C, Babault N. Effects of an electrostimulation training program on strength, jumping, and kicking capacities in soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 24: 1407–1413, 2010.
11. Cabri J, De Proft E, Dufour W, Clarys J. The relation between muscular strength and kick performance. In: Science and Football I. Proceedings of the First World Congress of Science and Football, Liverpool, 13–17th April 1987. London, United Kingdom: E & FN SPON, 1988. pp. 186–193.
12. Campo SS, Vaeyens R, Philippaerts RM, Redondo JC, de Benito AM, Cuadrado G. Effects of lower-limb plyometric training on body composition, explosive strength, and kicking speed in female soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 23: 1714–1722, 2009.
13. Cervera JM, Moreno L-MG, Santamaria CM, Ibañez AP, Guerola JS. Evaluation of specific physical condition in young soccer players. In Actas III Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Ciencias de Deporte, Valencia, 11–13th March 2004. Valencia: UNEX, 2004. pp. 224–264.
14. Chew-Bullock TSY, Anderson DI, Hamel KA, Gorelick ML, Wallace SA, Sidaway B. Kicking performance in relation to balance ability over the support leg. Hum Mov Sci 31: 1615–1623, 2012.
15. Cometti G, Maffiuletti N, Pousson M, Chatard J, Maffulli N. Isokinetic strength and anaerobic power of elite, subelite and amateur French soccer players. Int J Sports Med 22: 45–51, 2001.
16. de Villarreal ES, Suarez-Arrones L, Requena B, Haff GG, Ferrete C. Effects of plyometric and sprint training on physical and technical skill performance in adolescent soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 29: 1894–1903, 2015.
17. De Witt JK, Hinrichs RN. Mechanical factors associated with the development of high ball velocity during an instep soccer kick. Sports Biomech 11: 382–390, 2012.
18. DeProft E, Clarys J, Bollens E, Cabri J, Dufour W. Muscle activity in the soccer kick. In: Science and Football. Proceedings of the First World Congress of Science and Football, Liverpool, 13–17th April 1987. London, United Kingdom: E & FN SPON, 1988. pp. 434–474.
19. Dörge HC, Andersen TB, Sørensen H, Simonsen EB. Biomechanical differences in soccer kicking with the preferred and the non-preferred leg. J Sports Sci 20: 293–299, 2002.
20. Dörge HC, Andersen T, Sørensen H, Simonsen EB, Aagaard H, Dyhre-Poulsen P, Klausen K. EMG activity of the iliopsoas muscle and leg kinetics during the soccer place kick. Scand J Med Sci Sports 9: 195–200, 1999.
21. Ferraz R, Van Den Tillaar R, Marques MC. The effect of fatigue on kicking velocity in soccer players. J Hum Kinet 35: 97–107, 2012.
22. Finnoff J, Newcomer K, Laskowski E. A valid and reliable method for measuring the kicking accuracy of soccer players. J Sci Med Sport 5: 348–353, 2002.
23. García-Pinillos F, Martínez-Amat A, Hita-Contreras F, Martínez-López J, Latorre-Román A. Effects of a contrast training program without external load on vertical jump, kicking speed, sprint, and agility of young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 28: 2452–2460, 2014.
24. Gissis I, Papadopoulos C, Kalapotharakos VI, Sotiropoulos A, Komsis G, Manolopoulos E. Strength and speed characteristics of elite, subelite, and recreational young soccer players. Res Sports Med 14: 205–214, 2006.
25. González-Jurado J, Sotomayor E, Icassatti D. Biomechanical fundamentals of kicking in soccer: analysis of basic kinematic parameters. Educación física Chile: 29–34, 2007.
26. Ishii H, Yanagiya T, Naito H, Katamoto S, Maruyama T. Theoretical study of factors affecting ball velocity in instep soccer kicking. J Appl Biomech 28: 258–270, 2012.
27. Jelusic V, Jaric S, Kukolj M. Effects of the stretch-shortening strength training
on kicking performance in soccer players. J Hum Mov Stud 22: 231–238, 1992.
28. Juárez D, Navarro F. Análisis de la velocidad del balán en el golpeo en jugadores de fútbol sala en función del sistema de medición, la intención en la precisión del tiro, y su relación con otras acciones explosivas. Motricidad: European Journal of Human Movement 15: 149–157, 2006.
29. Juárez D, López de Subijana C, Navarro E. Analysis of kicking ball velocity in young soccer players, depending on the measurement system, intent on kick accuracy, and its relationship with other explosive actions. RICYDE Revista Internacional de Ciencias del Deporte 6: 29–41, 2010.
30. Juárez D, Valdivielso F, Rubio R, Ravé JM, Blázquez A, Fernández-Arroyo V. Relationship between maximal strength in squat exercise, jump, sprint and kicking ball velocity. RICYDE Revista Internacional de Ciencias del Deporte 4: 1–12, 2008.
31. Juárez D, Valdivielso F, Rubio R, Ravé JM, Blázquez A, Fernández-Arroyo V. Relación entre la fuerza máxima en squat y acciones de salto, sprint y golpeo de balón. RICYDE Revista Internacional de Ciencias del Deporte 4: 1–12, 2008.
32. Kellis E, Katis A. The relationship between isokinetic knee extension and flexion strength with soccer kick kinematics: An electromyographic evaluation. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 47: 385–394, 2007.
33. Kellis E, Katis A, Vrabas I. Effects of an intermittent exercise fatigue protocol on biomechanics of soccer kick performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports 16: 334–344, 2006.
34. Khorasani M, Osman A, Yusof A. Biomechanical responses of thigh and lower leg during 10 consecutive soccer instep kicks. J Strength Cond Res 25: 1177–1181, 2011.
35. Lees A, Davies T. The effects of fatigue on soccer kick biomechanics. J Sports Sci 8: 156–157, 1988.
36. Lees A, Rahnama N. Variability and typical error in the kinematics and kinetics of the maximal instep kick in soccer. Sports Biomech 12: 283–292, 2013.
37. Levanon J, Dapena J. Comparison of the kinematics of the full-instep and pass kicks in soccer. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30: 917–927, 1998.
38. Luhtanen P. Kinematics and kinetics of maximal instep kicking in junior soccer players. In: Science and Football I. Proceedings of the First World Congress of Science and Football, Liverpool, 13-17th April 1987. London, United Kingdom: E & FN SPON, 1988. pp. 441–448.
39. Manolopoulos E, Katis A, Manolopoulos K, Kalapotharakos V, Kellis E. Effects of a 10-week resistance exercise program on soccer kick biomechanics and muscle strength. J Strength Cond Res 27: 3391–3401, 2013.
40. Manolopoulos E, Papadopoulos C, Salonikidis K, Katartzi E, Poluha S. Strength training
effects on physical conditioning and instep kick kinematics in young amateur soccer players during preseason 1, 2. Percept Mot Skills 99: 701–710, 2004.
41. Manolopoulos E, Papadopoulos C, Kellis E. Effects of combined strength and kick coordination training on soccer kick biomechanics in amateur players. Scand J Med Sci Sports 16: 102–110, 2006.
42. Markovic G, Dizdar D, Jaric S. Evaluation of tests of maximum kicking performance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 46: 215–220, 2006.
43. Marques MC, Pereira A, Reis IG, Van den Tillaar R. Does an in-season 6-week combined sprint and jump training program improve strength-speed abilities and kicking performance in young soccer players? J Hum Kinet 39: 157, 2013.
44. Masuda K, Kikuhara N, Demura S, Katsuta S, Yamanaka K. Relationship between muscle strength in various isokinetic movements and kick performance among soccer players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 45: 44–52, 2005.
45. McLean B, Tumilty D. Left-right asymmetry in two types of soccer kick. Br J Sports Med 27: 260–262, 1993.
46. Mognoni P, Narici M, Sirtori M, Lorenzelli F. Isokinetic torques and kicking maximal ball velocity
in young soccer players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 34: 357–361, 1994.
47. Narici M, Sirtori M, Mognoni P. Maximal ball velocity
and peak torques of hip flexor and knee extensor muscles. In: Science and Football I, 1988. pp. 429–433.
48. Njororai WS. Analysis of goals scored in the 2010 world cup soccer tournament held in South Africa. J Phys Educ Sport 13: 6–13, 2013.
49. Öberg B, Möller M, Gillquist J, Ekstrand J. Isokinetic torque levels for knee extensors and knee flexors in soccer players. Int J Sports Med 7: 50–53, 1986.
50. Pereira N. Effects of 6 weeks of strength training
on the sprint performance, vertical jump and kicking in young footballers. Dissertação De Mestrado Em Ensino De Educação Física Dos Ensino Básico e Secundário - Universidade Da Beira Interior. Lisboa: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 2011.
51. Poulmedis P, Rondoyannis G, Mitsou A, Tsarouchas E. The influence of isokinetic muscle torque exerted in various speeds on soccer ball velocity. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 10: 93–96, 1988.
52. Prieske O, Muehlbauer T, Borde R, Gube M, Bruhn S, Behm G, Granacher U. Neuromuscular and athletic performance following core strength training
in elite youth soccer: Role of instability. Scand J Med Sci Sports 26: 48–56, 2015.
53. Ramírez-Campillo R, Gallardo F, Henriquez-Olguín C, Meylan C, Martínez C, Álvarez C, Izquierdo M. Effect of vertical, horizontal and combined plyometric training on explosive, balance and endurance performance of young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 29: 1784–1795, 2014.
54. Ramírez-Campillo R, Meylan C, Álvarez C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Martínez C, Cañas-Jamett R, Andrade DC, Izquierdo M. Effects of in-season low-volume high-intensity plyometric training on explosive actions and endurance of young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 28: 1335–1342, 2014.
55. Ramos P. Effects of 8 weeks of strength training
on the sprint performance, vertical jump and kicking in young elite soccer players. Dissertação De Mestrado Em Ensino De Educação Física Dos Ensino Básico e Secundário - Universidade Da Beira Interior. Lisboa: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 2011.
56. Rampinini E, Impellizzeri F, Castagna C, Azzalin A, Ferrari B, Wisløff U. Effect of match-related fatigue on short-passing ability in young soccer players. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40: 934–942, 2008.
57. Robertson D, Mosher R. Work and power of the leg muscles in soccer kicking. In: Biomechanics IX-B. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1985. pp. 533–538.
58. Rodano R, Tavana R. Three dimensional analysis of the instep kick in professional soccer players. Teilly T, Clarys J, Stibbe A, eds. In: Science and Football II. London: E. & F.N Spon, 1993. pp. 357–361.
59. Russell M, Benton D, Kingsley M. Reliability and construct validity of soccer skills tests that measure passing, shooting, and dribbling. J Sports Sci 28: 1399–1408, 2010.
60. Saliba L, Hrysomallis C. Isokinetic strength related to jumping but not kicking performance of Australian footballers. J Sci Med Sport 4: 336–347, 2001.
61. Sousa P, Garganta J, Garganta R. Estatuto posicional, força explosiva dos membros inferiores e velocidade imprimida à bola no remate em Futebol. Um estudo com jovens praticantes do escalão sub-17. Revista Portuguesa de Ciências do Desporto 3: 27–35, 2003.
62. Taïana F, Grehaigne J, Cometti G. The influence of maximal strength training
of lower limbs of soccer players on their physical and kick performances. Teilly T, Clarys J, Stibbe A, eds. In: Science and Soccer II London: E. & F.N Spon, 1993. pp. 98–103.
63. Trolle M, Aagaard P, Simonsen E, Bangsbo J, Klausen K. Effects of strength training
on kicking performance in soccer. Teilly T, Clarys J, Stibbe A, eds. In: Science and Football II. London: E. & F.N Spon, 1993. pp. 95–97.
64. Young W, Gulli R, Rath D, Russell A, O'Brien B, Harvey J. Acute effect of exercise on kicking accuracy in elite Australian football players. J Sci Med Sport 13: 85–89, 2010.
65. Young WB, Rath DA. Enhancing foot velocity in football kicking: The role of strength training
. J Strength Cond Res 25: 561–566, 2011.