Soccer: The Role of Fitness in Becoming a Professional Soccer Player

Soccer: The Role of Fitness in Becoming a Professional Soccer Player

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

The results of recent research should motivate young soccer players into devoting more effort into the fitness component of your practices.

The study revealed that one of the differences between youth players who eventually become professionals and those who don't, is their development of endurance from the ages of 14 to 18.

The Study
The research tracked 130 talented soccer players from ages 14-18 on the improvement of their ability to perform shuttle runs and their ultimate goal of playing professional soccer. The shuttle runs are a widely regarded test of intermittent endurance.

Of the 130 subjects, 53 went on to play in the pro ranks, while 77 did not.

It was found that those who became professionals became more proficient in performing shuttle runs. On average, they started from a baseline of 68 repetitions and improved to 109 runs. The non-pros, however, improved from a starting point of 73, to a maximum of 93 runs.

To summarize, the players who became professionals developed an intermittent endurance capacity that was about 17% higher than those who did not make the pros.

The researchers believe that this additional endurance capacity is one of the factors that distinguished those who made the pros versus those who did not.

Fortunately, according to the authors, this is a capacity that can be improved through hard work while playing soccer and with specific fitness training.

Reference: C.R. Roescher, M.T. Elferink-Gemser, B.C.H. Huijgen, C Visscher, (U. of Groningen, the Netherlands), Soccer Endurance Development in Professionals, International Journal of Sports Medicine, March, 2010.

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© 2010, Physical Education,

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