Inter-individual variability in responses to seven weeks of plyometric jump training in male youth soccer players

The purpose of this study was to compare the inter-individual variability in the effects of plyometric jump training (PJT) on measures of physical fitness (sprint time; change of direction speed; countermovement jump; 20- and 40-cm drop jump reactive strength index; multiple 5 bounds distance; maximal kicking distance; and 2.4-km time trial) in youth soccer players who completed a PJT programme versus players who completed soccer training only. In a single-blinded study, participants aged between 10 and 16 years were randomly divided into a PJT group (n=38) and a control group (n=38). The experimental group participated in a PJT programme twice weekly for 7 weeks, whereas the control group continued with their regular soccer training sessions. Between-group differences were examined using a Mann-Whitney U test. Non-responders (NR) where defined as individuals who failed to demonstrate any beneficial change that was greater than two times the typical error of measurement (TE) from zero. The results indicated that the mean group improvement for all physical fitness measures was greater (p<0.05) in the PJT group (∆ = 0.4% to 23.3%; ES = 0.04 to 0.58) than in the control group (∆ = 0.1% to 3.8%; ES = 0.02 to 0.35). In addition, a significantly greater (p<0.05) number of responders across all dependent variables was observed in the PJT group (from 4 up to 33 responders) than in the control group (from 0 up to 9 responders). In conclusion, compared to soccer training only, PJT induced greater physical fitness improvements in youth soccer players, with a greater number of responders for all the physical fitness tests related to jumping, speed, change of direction speed, endurance, and kicking technical ability.

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