Effects of Aerobic and Speed Training Versus Active Control on Repeated Sprint Ability and Measures of Self-confidence and Anxiety in Highly Trained Male Soccer Players

Walid Selmi, Raouf Hammami, Sofien Kasmi, Sonia Sehli, Haithem Rebai, Michael Duncan, Mokhtar Chtara, Urs Granacher

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Background: While there is ample evidence on the effects of single-mode aerobic and speed training on physical fitness in soccer players, less is known on the combined effects of these exercise regimens on physical and psychological factors. Aim: This study aimed to compare the effects of aerobic and speed training with soccer-specific training versus soccer-specific training only on aerobic performance during the YOYO intermittent fitness test level 1 (final velocity, total distance [TD], maximal oxygen consumption [VO2max]), repeated sprint ability (best, total sprint time [RSABT, RSATT], sprint decrement [RSA dec]) performance and somatic anxiety (SA), cognitive anxiety (CA), and self-confidence (SC) adaptations in soccer players. Methods: Thirty-eight highly trained male athletes aged 18.9 ± 0.5 years were randomly assigned to an aerobic and speed training group (COMB-G; n = 20) or an active control group (CON-G; n = 18). Aerobic training comprised intermittent exercises at 110–120% of the final velocity achieved at the end of the YOYO IL1 test. Speed training involved maximal sprints over 15–20-m with 5–6 sets per session. Aerobic or speed training lasted 20 min per session and replaced parts of the soccer-specific training. CON-G performed the soccer-specific training including technical, tactical drills and small-sided games. Training volume was similar between groups. Pre, post intervention, all participants performed a repeated-sprint ability (RSA) test, the YO-YO IL1 test and the players completed a Competitive Scale Anxiety Inventory (CSAI-2). Results: A two (group: COMB-G, CON-G) by two (time: pre, post) mixed ANOVA (group-by-time) was computed. Significant group-by-time interactions were found for RSATT (F = 117.3; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 1.78), RSABT (F = 82.4; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 1.53), final velocity (F = 85.8; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 1.53), TD (F = 87.1; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 1.56), and VO2max (F = 18.0; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 0.72). In addition, significant group-by-time interactions were observed for SC (F = 90.2; p < 0.001; d = 1.60), SA (F = 60.5; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 1.70), and CA (F = 20.7; p < 0.001; Pη2 = 0.75). Post-hoc analyses indicated significant improvements for all dependent variables from pre- to post-training in favor of COMB-G. Conclusion: Aerobic and speed training in combination with soccer-specific training is a safe and effective training method as it exerts positive effects not only for physical fitness but also for self-confidence and the coping of anxiety in male soccer players.
Original languageEnglish
Article number63
Number of pages13
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2023

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Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. We acknowledge the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and Open Access Publishing Fund of the University of Freiburg.


  • Psychological status
  • Dose–response relationship
  • High intensity training


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