Sommerville, Andrew Donald
Seasonal variation in fitness levels of professional youth footballers over a competitive season.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The use of applied sports science in soccer is growing rapidly. Fitness testing
and monitoring of training intensities are now becoming common place in the
modern game. Anecdotally it appears that fitness may decrease over the
season after initially being high following pre-season. While field tests also
suggest this, more precise measures made in controlled lab settings are
scarce. Therefore, the current study considered the seasonal variation in
fitness parameters of footballers over the course of a professional season.
Nineteen professional youth players from Celtic Football Club (age = 18.2 +
0.3 years; height = 175.4 + 6.2 cm; weight = 66.8 + 2.56 kg) completed
lab-based tests of aerobic capacity, muscle strength and power at three times
throughout the season. Aerobic measures of VO2max were among the highest
values for soccer players reported in published literature (at the end of pre-
season). Body weight changes occurred in the younger players over the
season, and appear to be largely dependant on maturation status. Maximal
strength parameters increased across the season and this was reflected in
maximal jump heights. However, in the older players increased strength did
not improve sprint performance over 5m and 10m. In younger players
increasing maximal strength did correlate with improvement in sprint
The results suggest that fitness levels can be maintained across the season in
older age groups or more mature players. Changes seen in younger players
are primarily a result of maturation and resultant changes in body morphology.
Furthermore, lab-based tests appear to provide a more detailed profile of a
players’ physical status than field-based tests.
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