The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of a short-term in-season plyometric training program on power, agility and knee extensor strength. Male soccer players from a third league team were assigned into an experimental and a control group. The experimental group, beside its regular soccer training sessions, performed a periodized plyometric training program for six weeks. The program included two training sessions per week, and maximal intensity unilateral and bilateral plyometric exercises (total of 40 - 100 foot contacts/session) were executed. Controls participated only in the same soccer training routine, and did not perform plyometrics. Depth vertical jump height, agility (Illinois Agility Test, T Agility Test) and maximal voluntary isometric torque in knee extensors using Multicont II dynamometer were evaluated before and after the experiment. In the experimental group small but significant improvements were found in both agility tests, while depth jump height and isometric torque increments were greater. The control group did not improve in any of the measures. Results of the study indicate that plyometric training consisting of high impact unilateral and bilateral exercises induced remarkable improvements in lower extremity power and maximal knee extensor strength, and smaller improvements in soccer-specific agility. Therefore, it is concluded that short-term plyometric training should be incorporated in the in-season preparation of lower level players to improve specific performance in soccer.
Keywords: depth jump; dynamometer; knee extensors; plyometrics; unilateral.