Do Young Elite Football Athletes Have the Same Strength and Power Characteristics as Senior Athletes?
Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Glasgow Warriors, Glasgow, UK
Benfica Lab, Lisbon 1500-313, Portugal
Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1499-002, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Funct. Morphol. Kinesiol. 2017, 2(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk2040048
Received: 2 December 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 19 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Promotion in Children and Adolescents through Sport and Physical Activities)
An increasing number of young football athletes are competing in elite senior level competitions. However, comparison of strength, power, and speed characteristics between young elite football athletes and their senior counterparts, while controlling for anthropometric parameters, is yet to be investigated. Knee extension concentric peak torque, jump performance, and 20 m straight-line speed were compared between age groups of under 17 (U17: n = 24), under 19 (U19: n = 25), and senior (seniors: n = 19) elite, national and international level, male football athletes. Analysis of covariance was performed, with height and body mass used as covariates. No significant differences were found between age groups for knee extension concentric peak torque (p = 0.28–0.42), while an effect was observed when the covariates of height and body mass were applied (p < 0.001). Senior players had greater jump and speed performance, whereas an effect was observed only for the covariate of body mass in the 15 m and 20 m (p < 0.001) speed testing. No differences were observed between U17 and U19 groups for jump and speed performance (p = 0.26–0.46). The current study suggests that younger elite football athletes (<19 years) have lower jump and speed performance than their senior counterparts, but not for strength when height and body mass are considered as covariates. Emphasis should be on power development capacities at the late youth phase when preparing athletes for the senior competition level.