With nearly one million registered players in Australia and many more in other countries, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. It’s played by millions and enjoyed by many more. Although there are still many unknown requirements for successful soccer performance both physiologically and biomechanically, what is known is the need for power (speed strength) in the sport. Explosive moments dictate the most crucial aspects of the game; these actions can be the difference between winning and losing.
The specificity of training model suggests that training movements that mimic the athletes competitive; movements, joint angles and body positions will elicit the highest degree of performance adaptations/improvements. For successful performance in soccer, athletes require high levels of explosiveness/power for activities such as: sprinting, kicking, tackling, change of direction and jumping. The success of many of these key explosive activities are dependent upon strength, power, rate of force development and the ability to engage the stretch shortening cycle. These key moments in a game can be the difference between winning and losing therefore it is imperative that athletes be as well prepared as possible for competition.
Numerous research studies suggest that weightlifting is a vital tool; it can be used to develop high levels of explosiveness and power in an array of athletes of many sporting disciplines. A field-based plyometric training model can be used to develop power although, a study by Tricoli et al. in 2005 compared the effects of a vertical jump training protocol (plyometric) vs. a weightlifting protocol for producing power and found that both training modalities were effective. Although not soccer specific the weightlifting protocol produced superior results in counter movement jumps and squat jumps respectively. A study by Carlock et al. in 2004 which examined the correlation between vertical jump peak power and weightlifting ability found there to be a strong link, this finding adds to previous evidence suggested that weightlifting is an effective tool for producing power. In addition a study by Channell et al. in 2008 examined traditional resistance training (squat, deadlift, bench press etc.) vs. weightlifting for vertical jump improvements in high school boys found there to be substantial increases in the weightlifting control over the traditional resistance training group, data showed improvement in both. Further more a study by Hoffman et al. in 2004 compared weightlifting vs. power lifting training programs in soccer players for vertical jump performance and also found significant advantage in the weightlifting programs results.
Summarizing the outlined studies shows that a weightlifting training protocol is a highly effective tool that can be implemented with a number of athletes including soccer players. The evidence clearly outlines its benefits for producing power and the superior results the athletes can expect when properly employing a periodised training protocol.
Evidence suggests weightlifting to be the most effective method for producing power, what are your thoughts? Discuss! What are the limitations?
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