Change-of-direction performance in elite soccer players: Preliminary analysis according to their playing positions

Dorsaf Sariati, Raouf Hammami, Mokhtar Chtara, Alessandro Zagatto, Daniel Boullosa, Cain C.T. Clark, Anthony C. Hackney, Urs Granacher, Nizar Souissi, Hassane Zouhal

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Our objective was to examine the relationship between change of direction (CoD) performance, with (CoDb), and without the ball (CoDwb), and selected measures of physical fitness (jump performance, speed, balance) in elite soccer players, according to players’ positions. Forty elite male soccer players performed the change-of-direction and acceleration test (CODAT) with (CODATb), and without the ball (CODATwb), 5-and 20-m sprint tests, the 5-jump test (5JT), and the Y-balance test (YBT). Analyses of the whole sample showed significant correlations between all CODAT measures (CODATwb and CODATb, respectively) and sprint 5-m (r = 0.72, p < 0.001; r = 0.52, p < 0.01), sprint 20-m (r = 0.54, p < 0.03; r = 0.45, p < 0.05), jump (r = −0.62, p < 0.01; r = −0.64, p < 0.01) and balance (r = −0.50, p < 0.01; r = −0.83, p < 0.001) performances. Correlations were significantly different between player positions (defender, midfielder and striker). When examining the entire sample, the single best predictor of CODATwb was performance in the 5-m test with an explained variance of 52% (p < 0.001). For CODATb, the Y-balance performance explained 68% of the variance of performance (p < 0.001). In conclusion, soccer coaches and fitness trainers are advised to improve players’ CoD using neuromuscular training that mimic crucial match actions. Meanwhile, CoD testing and training should be designed in line with the demands of playing position.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8360
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • CoD
  • Dynamic performances
  • Football
  • Players’ position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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