The impact of a periodised strength and conditioning programme on performance in elite under 18 academy football players

  • J. R. Keenan

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    Strength and Conditioning is rapidly growing and considered an essential part of athletic preparation, with the principal aims of improving performance and reducing injury risk in athletic performers. The current study aimed to measure the effect of a periodised 26 week in-season gym based Strength and Conditioning programme on performance improvement and injury risk in elite senior academy (Under 17 and Under 18) football players. 6 elite male football academy players (age 17.4±0.1 years; height 175.3±6.6 cm; body mass 66.2±5.0 kg) participated in the 26 week in-season gym based programme. Athletes were tested pre, week 11 and post for anthropometric measures and strength (predicted 1RM) for back squat, bench press and prone row. Performance measures of countermovement jump, 5, 15 and 30m sprints and T-Test agility scores were recorded pre and post. Measures of performance transfer from gym based improvements to the performance measures were calculated to assess the link between gym based training and sports performance. Functional Movement Screen scores were assessed pre and post, and injuries were recorded throughout the intervention period along with individual athlete exposure to training and matches. Meaningful change was observed for mass and LBM coupled with reduction in body fat %. Small effect sizes were observed in relation to height at all time points (d≤0.1). Large effect sizes were calculated from pre to post in squat (74.9%, d=1.84), bench press (82%, d=1.78 and prone row (80%, d=1.86). CMJ performance improved 14% pre to post (d=1.10). Moderate effect sizes were noted in relation to improvement in sprint times pre to post over 5m (d=0.61), 15m (d=0.60) and 30m (d=0.52). The ratio of performance transfer from the improvements in squat performance to performances measures was 0.19 (CMJ), 0.09 (PP), 0.24 (AP), 0.05 (5m sprint), 0.03 (15m sprint) and 0.01 (30m sprint). Mean total scores in the Functional Movement Screen increased from pre (13.8 ± 1.2) to post (17.5 ± 0.9, P<0.05, 17.6% increase) and a 30% reduction in asymmetries within the squad were reported. Injury rate was calculated at 0.94 per 1000 hours of training exposure, estimated at 6.1 per 1000 hours of match play exposure and 1.6 per 1000 hours of total exposure. The current investigation demonstrated that the application of Strength and Conditioning training to elite academy football players produced improvements in Functional Movement Screen scores and reported low levels of injury incidence and severity and therefore may be protective against injury risk. Large gains in gym based performance were recorded across the playing group, transfer however was only observed in improvements in countermovement jump performance. The poor transfer rate to sprint based performance, may suggest transfer of strength increases to complex movement patterns may require additional mechanisms.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University


    • strength and conditioning
    • young people
    • elite sport training
    • football
    • athletic performance

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