Latest research in football - week 46 - 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 Applying the acute:chronic workload ratio in elite football: worth the effort?
Reference: Br J Sports Med. 2016 Nov 16. pii: bjsports-2016-097017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097017. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Buchheit M
Summary: The use of the acute:chronic workload ratio (A/C) has received a growing interest in the past 2 years to monitor injury risk in a variety of team sports.1 ,2 This ratio is generally computed over 28 days (ie, load accumulated during the current week/load accumulated weekly over the past 28 days), using both internal (session-rate of perceive exertion (Session-RPE)×duration) and external (tracking variables, often Global Positioning System (GPS)-related, such as high-speed running and acceleration variables) measures of competitive and training load. While the potential benefit of such a metric is straight forward for practitioners, there remain several limitations to (1) the assessment of relative external load and in turn, injury risk in players differing in locomotor profiles and (2) the effective monitoring of overall load across all training and matches throughout the year. In turn, these limitations likely compromise the usefulness of the A/C ratio in elite football (soccer).

#2 Treatment of muscle injuries in football
Reference: J Sports Sci. 2016 Nov 16:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Ueblacker P, Haensel L, Mueller-Wohlfahrt HW
Summary: Muscle injuries are frequent and represent one of the most substantial medical problems in professional football. They can have both traumatic and overuse causes with direct practical consequence due to differences in terms of the post-primary care regimen and prognosis. An accurate diagnosis is the first step towards a specific treatment and usually allows to predict return to play (RTP). Current treatment principles have no firm scientific basis; they are practiced largely as empirical medicine due to a lack of prospective randomised studies. Immediate treatment usually follows the PRICE-principle (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). Depending on the type of the muscle injury, specific physical and physiotherapeutical procedures as well as rehabilitative exercises and gradual training therapy are used to recondition the injured structure, to restore coordination and proprioception, and to normalise movement patterns. Injection therapy with various substances is frequently used, with positive results empirically, but evidence in form of prospective randomised studies is lacking. A precise rehabilitation plan should be developed for every muscle injury, including recommendations for sport-specific training with increasing intensity. Since there are no guidelines regarding safe RTP, regular follow-up examinations on the current muscle status are crucial to evaluate the progress made in terms of healing and to determine when the injured muscle can be exposed to the next step of load. This narrative review describes the various factors that a medical team should consider during assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of a muscle injury with particular focus on professional football.

#3 Ghost or Real Musculoskeletal Asymmetries in Football Players?
Reference: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Dec;48(12):2580.
Authors: Sanchis-Moysi J, Calbet JA

#4 Hip Strength as an Intrinsic Risk Factor for Lateral Ankle Sprains in Youth Soccer Players: A 3-Season Prospective Study
Reference: Am J Sports Med. 2016 Nov 16. pii: 0363546516672650. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: De Ridder R, Witvrouw E, Dolphens M, Roosen P, Van Ginckel A
Summary: Numerous epidemiological studies have emphasized the burden of lateral ankle sprains in youth soccer players. However, no prospective study has identified intrinsic physical and modifiable risk factors for these injuries in this particular population. Although injury prevention programs in soccer incorporate proximal hip and core stability exercises, it is striking that the relationship between impaired proximal hip function and ankle sprains has not yet been prospectively investigated in youth soccer players. This prospective study aimed to examine whether hip muscle strength is a risk factor for sustaining a lateral ankle sprain in youth soccer players. We hypothesized that decreased hip muscle strength would predispose youth soccer players to an increased risk of lateral ankle sprains. This study included a total of 133 male youth soccer players (age divisions U11-U17) for analysis. At the beginning of the season, anthropometric characteristics were collected and hip muscle strength was assessed using a handheld dynamometer. Injury registration was performed by the team medical staff during 3 consecutive seasons. A principal-component, multivariate Cox regression analysis was performed to identify potential risk factors for sustaining a lateral ankle sprain. Twelve participants (18% of all reported injuries) sustained a lateral ankle sprain (0.36 per 1000 athletic-exposure hours). After adjustment for body size dependencies and other hip muscle forces, an increase in hip muscle extension force was associated with a significant decrease in the hazard of the injury (hazard ratio, 0.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.9; P = .028). No other study variable could be identified as a risk factor for lateral ankle sprains. Reduced hip extension muscle strength is an independent risk factor for lateral ankle sprains in male youth soccer players. Other hip muscle strength outcomes were not identified as risk factors. Replication in larger samples with more injured cases is warranted to further ascertain the importance of this risk factor.

#5 The Challenge of Evaluating the Intensity of Short Actions in Soccer: A New Methodological Approach Using Percentage Acceleration
Reference: PLoS One. 2016 Nov 15;11(11):e0166534. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166534. eCollection 2016.
Authors: Sonderegger K, Tschopp M, Taube W
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Summary: There are several approaches to quantifying physical load in team sports using positional data. Distances in different speed zones are most commonly used. Recent studies have used acceleration data in addition in order to take short intense actions into account. However, the fact that acceleration decreases with increasing initial running speed is ignored and therefore introduces a bias. The aim of our study was to develop a new methodological approach that removes this bias. For this purpose, percentage acceleration was calculated as the ratio of the maximal acceleration of the action (amax,action) and the maximal voluntary acceleration (amax) that can be achieved for a particular initial running speed (percentage acceleration [%] = amax,action / amax * 100). To define amax, seventy-two highly trained junior male soccer players (17.1 ± 0.6 years) completed maximal sprints from standing and three different constant initial running speeds (vinit; trotting: ~6.0 km·h-1; jogging: ~10.8 km·h-1; running: ~15.0 km·h-1). The amax was 6.01 ± 0.55 from a standing start, 4.33 ± 0.40 from trotting, 3.20 ± 0.49 from jogging and 2.29 ± 0.34 m·s-2 from running. The amax correlated significantly with vinit (r = -0.98) and the linear regression equation of highly-trained junior soccer players was: amax = -0.23 * vinit + 5.99. Using linear regression analysis, we propose to classify high-intensity actions as accelerations >75% of the amax, corresponding to acceleration values for our population of >4.51 initiated from standing, >3.25 from trotting, >2.40 from jogging, and >1.72 m·s-2 from running. The use of percentage acceleration avoids the bias of underestimating actions with high and overestimating actions with low initial running speed. Furthermore, percentage acceleration allows determining individual intensity thresholds that are specific for one population or one single player.

#6 Do cognitive training strategies improve motor and positive psychological skills development in soccer players? Insights from a systematic review
Reference: J Sports Sci. 2016 Nov 15:1-12. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Slimani M, Bragazzi NL, Tod D, Dellal A, Hue O, Cheour F, Taylor L, Chamari K
Summary: Soccer players are required to have well-developed physical, technical and cognitive abilities. The present systematic review, adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines, examined the effects of cognitive training strategies on motor and positive psychological skills development in soccer performance and identified the potential moderators of the "cognitive training-soccer performance" relationship. Thirteen databases were systematically searched using keywords related to psychological or cognitive training in soccer players. The review is based on 18 studies, employing 584 soccer players aged 7-39 years. Cognitive strategies, particularly imagery, appear to improve sports performance in soccer players. Regarding imagery, the combination of two different types of cognitive imagery training (i.e., cognitive general and cognitive specific) has a positive influence on soccer performance during training, whereas motivational imagery (i.e., motivational general-arousal, motivational general-mastery and motivational specific) enhance competition performance. Younger soccer players employ cognitive general and cognitive specific imagery techniques to a greater extent than older soccer players. Combined cognitive training strategies were more beneficial than a single cognitive strategy relative to motor skills enhancement in elite (particularly midfielders) and amateur (i.e., when practising complex and specific soccer skills in precompetitive period) soccer players. In conclusion, it appears that there are differences in cognitive/psychological training interventions, and their efficacy, according to whether they are directed towards training or competition, and the age, standard and playing position of the players.

#7 Sequencing effects of balance and plyometric training on physical performance in youth soccer athletes
Reference: J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3278–3289, 2016

Authors: Hammami R, Granacher U, Makhlouf I, Behm DG, Chaouachi A
Summary: Balance training may have a preconditioning effect on subsequent power training with youth. There are no studies examining whether the sequencing of balance and plyometric training has additional training benefits. The objective was to examine the effect of sequencing balance and plyometric training on the performance of 12- to 13-year-old athletes. Twenty-four young elite soccer players trained twice per week for 8 weeks either with an initial 4 weeks of balance training followed by 4 weeks of plyometric training (BPT) or 4 weeks of plyometric training proceeded by 4 weeks of balance training (PBT). Testing was conducted pre- and posttraining and included medicine ball throw; horizontal and vertical jumps; reactive strength; leg stiffness; agility; 10-, 20-, and 30-m sprints; Standing Stork balance test; and Y-Balance test. Results indicated that BPT provided significantly greater improvements with reactive strength index, absolute and relative leg stiffness, triple hop test, and a trend for the Y-Balance test (p = 0.054) compared with PBT. Although all other measures had similar changes for both groups, the average relative improvement for the BPT was 22.4% (d = 1.5) vs. 15.0% (d = 1.1) for the PBT. BPT effect sizes were greater with 8 of 13 measures. In conclusion, although either sequence of BPT or PBT improved jumping, hopping, sprint acceleration, and Standing Stork and Y-Balance, BPT initiated greater training improvements in reactive strength index, absolute and relative leg stiffness, triple hop test, and the Y-Balance test. BPT may provide either similar or superior performance enhancements compared with PBT.

#8 Effects of high-velocity resistance training on athletic performance in prepuberal male soccer athletes
Reference: J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3290–3297, 2016
Authors: Negra Y, Chaabene H, Hammami M, Hachana Y, Granacher U
Summary: The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a 12-week in-season low-to-moderate load high-velocity resistance training (HVRT) in addition to soccer training as compared with soccer training only on proxies of athletic performance in prepubertal soccer players. Twenty-four male soccer players performed 2 different protocols: (a) regular soccer training with 5 sessions per week (n = 11; age = 12.7 ± 0.3 years) and (b) regular soccer training with 3 sessions per week and HVRT with 2 sessions per week (n = 13; age = 12.8 ± 0.2 years). The outcome measures included tests for the assessment of muscle strength (e.g., 1 repetition maximum [1RM] half-squat tests), jump ability (e.g., countermovement jump, squat jump [SJ], standing long jump [SLJ], and multiple 5-bound tests [MB5s]), linear speed (e.g., 5-, 10-, 20-, and 30-m sprint tests), and change of direction (e.g., T-test and Illinois change of direction test). Results revealed significant group × test interactions for the SJ test (p ≤ 0.05, d = 0.59) and the SLJ test (p < 0.01, d = 0.83). Post hoc tests illustrated significant pre-post changes in the HVRT group (SJ: [INCREMENT]22%, p < 0.001, d = 1.26; SLJ: [INCREMENT]15%, p < 0.001, d = 1.30) but not in the control group. In addition, tendencies toward significant interaction effects were found for the 1RM half-squat (p = 0.08, d = 0.54) and the 10-m sprint test (p = 0.06, d = 0.57). Significant pre-post changes were found for both parameters in the HVRT group only (1RM: [INCREMENT]25%, p < 0.001, d = 1.23; 10-m sprint: [INCREMENT]7%, p < 0.0001, d = 1.47). In summary, in-season low-to-moderate load HVRT conducted in combination with regular soccer training is a safe and feasible intervention that has positive effects on maximal strength, vertical and horizontal jump and sprint performance as compared with soccer training only.

#9 Technical actions, heart rate, and locomotor activity in 7v7 and 8v8 games for female youth soccer players
Reference: J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3298–3303, 2016
Authors: Ørntoft C, Larsen MN, Andersen TB, Rasmussen LS, Póvoas SCA, Randers MB, Krustrup P
Summary: The purpose of this study was to evaluate technical performance, heart rate (HR), and activity profile in 7v7 and 8v8 soccer games for 9- to 10-year-old girls (U11). A total of 24 female youth players participated in the study, all playing 20-minute 7v7 and 8v8 games with 160 and 223 m2 per player, respectively. Technical actions, HR, and activity profile were measured during the games using video filming, HR monitors, and 5-Hz Global positioning system (GPS) units. The number of technical actions was higher in 7v7 than in 8v8 games (34 ± 19 vs. 28 ± 14; p = 0.03; d = 0.37), as was the number of successful actions (25 ± 16 vs. 20 ± 12; p = 0.01; d = 0.35), with no difference in success rate for technical actions (70 ± 13 vs. 69 ± 14%; p = 0.63; d = 0.07). No differences were found between 7v7 and 8v8 in total distance covered (1,574 ± 251 and 1,622 ± 281 m; p = 0.66; d = 0.18), peak speed (19.5 ± 2.6 and 20.7 ± 1.5 km·h−1; p = 0.16; d = 0.56), mean HR values (85 ± 5 and 86 ± 6%HRpeak; p = 0.85; d = 0.18), and time of >90% HRpeak (37 ± 16 and 35 ± 14% of playing time; p = 0.70; d = 0.13). Distance covered at the highest running speeds of >16 km·h−1 was lower in 7v7 than in 8v8 games (34 ± 24 vs. 63 ± 34 m; p = 0.018; d = 0.98), as was the number of entries into this speed zone (8 ± 5 vs. 13 ± 7; p = 0.006; d = 0.82). In conclusion, more technical actions and successful actions were observed in 7v7 than in 8v8 games, but players covered more ground with high-speed running in 8v8 games. This study also revealed that HR values were high in both game formats for U11 adolescent female players, with no difference between formats.

#10 Consistency of field-based measures of neuromuscular control using force-plate diagnostics in elite male youth soccer players
Reference: J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3304–3311, 2016
Authors: Read P, Oliver JL, Croix MD, Myer GD, Lloyd, RS
Summary: Deficits in neuromuscular control during movement patterns such as landing are suggested pathomechanics that underlie sport-related injury. A common mode of assessment is measurement of landing forces during jumping tasks; however, these measures have been used less frequently in male youth soccer players, and reliability data are sparse. The aim of this study was to examine the reliability of a field-based neuromuscular control screening battery using force-plate diagnostics in this cohort. Twenty-six pre–peak height velocity (PHV) and 25 post-PHV elite male youth soccer players completed a drop vertical jump (DVJ), single-leg 75% horizontal hop and stick (75%HOP), and single-leg countermovement jump (SLCMJ). Measures of peak landing vertical ground reaction force (pVGRF), time to stabilization, time to pVGRF, and pVGRF asymmetry were recorded. A test-retest design was used, and reliability statistics included change in mean, intraclass correlation coefficient, and coefficient of variation (CV). No significant differences in mean score were reported for any of the assessed variables between test sessions. In both groups, pVGRF and asymmetry during the 75%HOP and SLCMJ demonstrated largely acceptable reliability (CV ≤ 10%). Greater variability was evident in DVJ pVGRF and all other assessed variables, across the 3 protocols (CV range = 13.8–49.7%). Intraclass correlation coefficient values ranged from small to large and were generally higher in the post-PHV players. The results of this study suggest that pVGRF and asymmetry can be reliably assessed using a 75%HOP and SLCMJ in this cohort. These measures could be used to support a screening battery for elite male youth soccer players and for test-retest comparison.

#11 Effects of an in-season plyometric training program on repeated change of direction and sprint performance in the junior soccer player
Reference: J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3312–3320, 2016
Authors: Hammami M, Negra Y, Aouadi R, Shephard RJ, Chelly MS
Summary: We aimed to determine the gains in explosive movements of male junior soccer players induced by incorporating an 8-week plyometric training program (PTP) into a standard soccer conditioning regimen 5 months after the beginning of the competitive season. Our hypothesis was that PTP would enhance explosive movements, and thus sprint running, repeated shuttle sprint ability (RSSA), agility and the ability to make repeated changes of direction (RCOD). A group of junior soccer players were randomly divided into 2 groups: an experimental group (E, n = 15, age 15.7 ± 0.2 years) and a control group (C, n = 13, age 15.8 ± 0.2 years). The participants in E and C performed training exercises and matches together, but for an 8-week period in the latter part of the season, the experimental group replaced a part of the normal regimen (the tactical session) by a biweekly course of PTP (hurdle and drop jumps). Two familiarization sessions were held 2 weeks before definitive testing. The ability of the players was assessed by 3 agility tests (a sprint test with 180° turns, a 9-3-6-3-9 m sprint with backward and forward running, and a four 5-m sprint test with turns); 2 repeated sprint tests (RSSA and RCOD); and running times over 5-, 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-m distances. Participants in E showed gains relative to C in sprint times (p ≤ 0.05 for 5, 10, and 20 m), and 2 of 3 the RCOD parameters (RCOD best, p ≤ 0.001; RCOD total, p ≤ 0.05). However, with the pattern of plyometric training that we adopted, and perhaps because participants were in good initial physical condition, the agility and RSSA test scores remained unchanged. Nevertheless, we conclude that our PTP can be commended to junior soccer players as a means of improving important components of their physical performance.

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