Latest research in football - week 43 - 2016

As previous literature updates, I have performed a PubCrawler search looking for football articles in NCBI Medline (PubMed) and GenBank databases.

Following studies were retrieved for this week:


#1 The effect of high-speed strength training on physical performance in young soccer players of different ages
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Rodriguez-Rosell D, Franco-Márquez F, Mora-Custodio R, González-Badillo JJ
Summary: The aim of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of low-load, low-volume weight training combined with plyometrics on strength, sprint and jump performance in soccer players of different ages. Eighty-six soccer players from the same academy were categorized into 3 groups by age (under 13 year, U13, n = 30; under 15, U15, n = 28; under 17, U17, n = 28) and then randomly assigned into two subgroups: a strength training group (STG) and a control group (CG). The strength training program was performed twice a week for 6 weeks and consisted of full squats (load: 45-60% 1RM; volume: 3 set of 8-4 repetitions), jumps and straight line sprint exercises. After training intervention, the STGs showed significant improvements in maximal strength (7.5-54.5%; p < 0.001), jump height (5.7-12.5%; p < 0.01 - 0.001) and sprint time (-3.7 to -1.2%; p < 0.05 - 0.001), whereas no significant gains were found for any variable in the CGs. Comparison between experimental groups resulted in a greater magnitude of change for U13 compared to U15 (ES: 0.10-0.53) and U17 (ES: 0.14-1.41) soccer players in most variables, whereas U15 showed higher improvements in jump and strength parameters than U17 (ES: 0.25-0.90) soccer players. Thus, although our results indicates that a combined weight training and plyometrics program may be effective in eliciting gains in strength, jump and sprint in soccer players of different ages, the training program used appears to be generally less effective as the age of the soccer players increased. Therefore, it appears that training characteristics (mainly volume, intensity and type of exercise) should be modified in relation to maturity status and initial strength level.

#2 Effects of pitch area-restrictions on tactical behavior, physical and physiological performances in soccer large-sided games
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Gonçalves B, Esteves P, Folgado H, Ric A, Torrents C, Sampaio J
Summary: The aim of this study was to identify how pitch area-restrictions affects the tactical behavior, physical and physiological performances of players during soccer large-sided games. A 10 vs. 9 large-sided game was performed under three experimental conditions: (i) restricted-spacing, the pitch was divided into specific areas where players were assigned and they should not leave it; (ii) contiguous-spacing, the pitch was divided into specific areas where the players were only allowed to move to a neighboring one; (iii) free-spacing, the players had no restrictions in space occupation. The positional data were used to compute players' spatial exploration index and also the distance, coefficient of variation, approximate entropy and frequency of near-in-phase displacements synchronization of players' dyads formed by the outfield teammates. Players' physical and physiological performances were assessed by the distance covered at different speed categories, game pace and heart rate. Most likely higher values were found in players' spatial exploration index under free-spacing conditions. The synchronization between dyads' displacements showed higher values for contiguous-spacing and free-spacing conditions. In contrast, for the jogging and running intensity zones, restricted-spacing demanded a moderate effect and most likely decrease compared to other scenarios (∼20-50% to jogging and ∼60-90% to running). Overall, the effects of limiting players' spatial exploration greatly impaired the co-adaptation between teammates' positioning while decreasing the physical and physiological performances. These results allow for a better understanding of players' decision-making process according to specific task rules and can be relevant to enrich practice task design, such that coaches acknowledge the differential effect by using specific pitch-position areas restrictions.

#3 Assessment of Technical Skills in Young Soccer Goalkeepers: Reliability and Validity of Two Goalkeeper-Specific Tests
Reference: J Sports Sci Med. 2016 Aug 5;15(3):516-523. eCollection 2016.
Authors: Rebelo-Gonçalves R, Figueiredo AJ, Coelho-E-Silva MJ, Tessitore A
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Summary: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reproducibility and validity of two new tests designed to examine goalkeeper-specific technique. Twenty-six goalkeepers (14.49 ± 2.52 years old) completed two trial sessions, each separated by one week, to evaluate the reproducibility of the Sprint-Keeper Test (S-Keeper) and the Lateral Shuffle-Keeper Test (LS-Keeper). Construct validity was assessed among forty goalkeepers (14.49 ± 1.71 years old) by competitive level (elite versus non-elite), after controlling for chronological age. All participants were examined in vertical jump (CMJ and CMJ-free arms), acceleration (5-m and 10-m sprint) and goalkeeper-specific technique. The S-Keeper requires the goalkeeper to accelerate during 3 m and dive over a stationary ball after performing a change of direction in a total distance of 10 m. The LS-Keeper involves three changes of direction and a diving save over a stationary ball, in a total distance of 12.55 m. Performance was respectively measured as total time for the right and left sides in each protocol. Bivariate correlations between repeated measures were high and significant (r = 0.835 - 0.912). Test-retest results for the S-Keeper and LS-Keeper showed good reliability (reliability coefficients > 0.88, intra-class correlation coefficient > 0.908 and coefficients of variation < 4.37%), even though participants tended to improve performance when diving to their right side (p < 0.05). Both tests were able to detect significant differences between elite and non-elite goalkeepers, particularly to the left side (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that the S-Keeper and LS-Keeper are reliable and valid tests for assessing goalkeeper-specific technique. Both protocols can be used as a practical tool to provide relevant information about the influence of several components of performance in the overall execution of a diving save, particularly movement patterns, take-off movements and possible asymmetries.

#4 Muscle Contraction Velocity: A Suitable Approach to Analyze the Functional Adaptations in Elite Soccer Players
Reference: J Sports Sci Med. 2016 Aug 5;15(3):483-491. eCollection 2016.
Authors: Loturco I, Pereira LA, Kobal R, Kitamura K, Ramírez-Campillo R, Zanetti V, Abad CC, Nakamura FY
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Summary: Tensiomyography (TMG) has been used as a simple and non-invasive tool to assess the mechanical properties of skeletal muscles. The TMG-derived velocity of contraction (Vc), which can be calculated from the ratio between maximal radial displacement and the sum of contraction time and delay time, has been proposed for evaluating athletes. However, its sensitivity to training effects and possible relation with changes in soccer players' neuromuscular performance have not yet been addressed. To test this possibility, twenty-two male Brazilian elite soccer players were assessed using TMG-derived Vc, unloaded squat jump, countermovement jump and drop jump at 45 cm, loaded jump squat and linear (20 m) and change of direction (COD) sprint tests, prior to and after an 8-week period, between two consecutive official tournaments, during which the concurrency between endurance and strength-power training commonly impairs neuromuscular capacities. Magnitude-based inference was used to detect meaningful training effects. From pre- to post-tests, it was observed likely to almost certainly improvements in all modes of jumping tests. In addition, we could verify decrements in the 20-m and COD sprint performances, which were rated as very likely and almost certainly, respectively. Finally, both rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles presented a likely reduction in Vc. Therefore, chronic decreases in sprinting speed are possibly accompanied by a reduced TMG-derived Vc. From a practical standpoint, the TMG-derived Vc can be used to monitor negative specific-soccer training effects related to potential impairments in maximum speed.

#5 Perceptual-cognitive skill and the in-situ performance of soccer players
Reference: Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2016 Nov 1:1-44. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: van Maarseveen MJ, Oudejans RR, Mann DL, Savelsbergh GJ
Summary: Many studies have shown that experts possess better perceptual-cognitive skills than novices (e.g., in anticipation, decision making, pattern recall), but it remains unclear whether a relationship exists between performance on those tests of perceptual-cognitive skill and actual on-field performance. In this study, we assessed the in-situ performance of skilled soccer players and related the outcomes to measures of anticipation, decision-making, and pattern recall. In addition, we examined gaze behaviour when performing the perceptual-cognitive tests to better understand whether the underlying processes were related when performing those perceptual-cognitive tasks. The results revealed that on-field performance could not be predicted on the basis of performance on the perceptual-cognitive tests. Moreover, there were no strong correlations between the level of performance on the different tests. The analysis of gaze behaviour revealed differences in search rate, fixation duration, fixation order, gaze entropy, and percentage viewing time when performing the test of pattern recall, suggesting that it is driven by different processes to that used for anticipation and decision making. Altogether, the results suggest that the perceptual-cognitive tests may not be as strong determinants of actual performance as may have previously been assumed.

#6 Biomechanical Effects of an Injury Prevention Program in Preadolescent Female Soccer Athletes
Reference: Am J Sports Med. 2016 Oct 28. pii: 0363546516669326. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Thompson JA, Tran AA, Gatewood CT, Shultz R, Silder A, Delp SL, Dragoo JL
Summary: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common, and children as young as 10 years of age exhibit movement patterns associated with an ACL injury risk. Prevention programs have been shown to reduce injury rates, but the mechanisms behind these programs are largely unknown. Few studies have investigated biomechanical changes after injury prevention programs in children. The purpose was to investigate the effects of the F-MARC 11+ injury prevention warm-up program on changes to biomechanical risk factors for an ACL injury in preadolescent female soccer players. We hypothesized that the primary ACL injury risk factor of peak knee valgus moment would improve after training. In addition, we explored other kinematic and kinetic variables associated with ACL injuries. A total of 51 female athletes aged 10 to 12 years were recruited from soccer clubs and were placed into an intervention group (n = 28; mean [±SD] age, 11.8 ± 0.8 years) and a control group (n = 23; mean age, 11.2 ± 0.6 years). The intervention group participated in 15 in-season sessions of the F-MARC 11+ program (2 times/wk). Pre- and postseason motion capture data were collected during preplanned cutting, unanticipated cutting, double-leg jump, and single-leg jump tasks. Lower extremity joint angles and moments were estimated using OpenSim, a biomechanical modeling system. Athletes in the intervention group reduced their peak knee valgus moment compared with the control group during the double-leg jump (mean [±standard error of the mean] pre- to posttest change, -0.57 ± 0.27 %BW×HT vs 0.25 ± 0.25 %BW×HT, respectively; P = .034). No significant differences in the change in peak knee valgus moment were found between the groups for any other activity; however, the intervention group displayed a significant pre- to posttest increase in peak knee valgus moment during unanticipated cutting (P = .044). Additional analyses revealed an improvement in peak ankle eversion moment after training during preplanned cutting (P = .015), unanticipated cutting (P = .004), and the double-leg jump (P = .016) compared with the control group. Other secondary risk factors did not significantly improve after training, although the peak knee valgus angle improved in the control group compared with the intervention group during unanticipated cutting (P = .018). The F-MARC 11+ program may be effective in improving some risk factors for an ACL injury during a double-leg jump in preadolescent athletes, most notably by reducing peak knee valgus moment. This study provides motivation for enhancing injury prevention programs to produce improvement in other ACL risk factors, particularly during cutting and single-leg tasks.

#7 Evidence for Acute Electrophysiological and Cognitive Changes Following Routine Soccer Heading
Reference: EBioMedicine. 2016 Oct 23. pii: S2352-3964(16)30490-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.029. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Di Virgilio TG, Hunter A, Wilson L, Stewart W, Goodall S, Howatson G, Donaldson DI, Ietswaart M
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Summary: There is growing concern around the effects of concussion and sub-concussive impacts in sport. Routine game-play in soccer involves intentional and repeated head impacts through ball heading. Although heading is frequently cited as a risk to brain health, little data exist regarding the consequences of this activity. This study aims to assess the immediate outcomes of routine football heading using direct and sensitive measures of brain function. Nineteen amateur football players (5 females; age 22±3y) headed machine-projected soccer balls at standardized speeds, modelling routine soccer practice. The primary outcome measure of corticomotor inhibition measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation, was assessed prior to heading and repeated immediately, 24h, 48h and 2weeks post-heading. Secondary outcome measures were cortical excitability, postural control, and cognitive function. Immediately following heading an increase in corticomotor inhibition was detected; further to these electrophysiological alterations, measurable reduction memory function were also found. These acute changes appear transient, with values normalizing 24h post-heading. Sub-concussive head impacts routine in soccer heading are associated with immediate, measurable electrophysiological and cognitive impairments. Although these changes in brain function were transient, these effects may signal direct consequences of routine soccer heading on (long-term) brain health which requires further study.

#8 Validation and calibration of HeadCount, a self-report measure for quantifying heading exposure in soccer players
Reference: Res Sports Med. 2016 Oct-Dec;24(4):416-425. Epub 2016 Sep 22.
Authors: Catenaccio E, Caccese J, Wakschlag N, Fleysher R, Kim N, Kim M, Buckley TA, Stewart WF, Lipton RB, Kaminski T, Lipton ML
Summary: The long-term effects of repetitive head impacts due to heading are an area of increasing concern, and exposure must be accurately measured; however, the validity of self-report of cumulative soccer heading is not known. In order to validate HeadCount, a 2-week recall questionnaire, the number of player-reported headers was compared to the number of headers observed by trained raters for a men's and a women's collegiate soccer teams during an entire season of competitive play using Spearman's correlations and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), and calibrated using a generalized estimating equation. The average Spearman's rho was 0.85 for men and 0.79 for women. The average ICC was 0.75 in men and 0.38 in women. The calibration analysis demonstrated that men tend to report heading accurately while women tend to overestimate. HeadCount is a valid instrument for tracking heading behaviour, but may have to be calibrated in women.

#9 Does kinesiology taping of the ankles affect proprioceptive control in professional football (soccer) players?
Reference: Phys Ther Sport. 2016 Sep 3. pii: S1466-853X(16)30095-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.09.001. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Bailey D, Firth P
Summary: The purpose of the study was to determine whether the bilateral application of kinesiology tape (KT) to professional footballers' ankles can improve their lower limb proprioception. Participants were randomly assigned to complete a proprioception test in either a taped or not taped condition first. Following a wash out period, participants were then re-tested in the alternate condition. Twenty male professional football players over the age of 18, currently match fit with no injuries. Proprioception was assessed by participants undertaking the moving target program on the balance module attached to a Kin-Com 125AP isokinetic dynamometer. A paired sample two tailed t-test was used to assess whether there was a significant difference between the participants test scores in the not taped and taped conditions. The bilateral application of KT to professional footballers' ankles did not bring about a significant change in participants' scores when tested with a fine movement and balance control test. Percentage accuracy score mean difference 4.2 (p = 0.285). The results of this study do not support the use of KT when applied to the ankles of healthy footballers as a method of improving proprioception.

#10 The Neurophysiological Response Following Sub-Concussive Soccer Heading
Reference: EBioMedicine. 2016 Nov 2. pii: S2352-3964(16)30504-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.043. [Epub ahead of print]
Author: Pearce AJ
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