General physical practice and multidimensional exercises are essential elements that allow young athletes to enhance their coordinative traits, balance, and strength and power levels, which are linked to the learning soccer-specific skills. Jumping rope is a widely-used and non-specific practical method for the development of athletic conditioning, balance and coordination in several disciplines. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a short-term training protocol including jumping rope (JR) exercises on motor abilities and body balance in young soccer players. Twenty-four preadolescent soccer players were recruited and placed in two different groups. In the Experimental group (EG), children performed JR training at the beginning of the training session. The control group (CG), executed soccer specific drills. Harre circuit test (HCT) and Lower Quarter Y balance test (YBT-LQ) were selected to evaluate participant's motor ability (e.g. ability to perform rapidly a course with different physical tasks such as somersault and passages above/below obstacles ) and to assess unilateral dynamic lower limb balance after 8 weeks of training. Statistical analysis consisted of paired t-test and mixed analysis of variance scores to determine any significant interactions. Children who performed jumping rope exercises showed a significant decrease of 9% (p < 0.01, ES = 0.50-0.80) in the performance time of HCT. With regard to the CG, no differences were highlighted (p > 0.05, ES = 0.05-0.2) from pre- to post-training. A training-by-group interaction was found for the composite score in both legs (p < 0.05, Part η(2) > 0.14). Our findings demonstrated that JR practice within regular soccer training enhanced general motor coordination and balance in preadolescent soccer players. Therefore, the inclusion of JR practice within regular soccer training session should encouraged to improve children's motor skills. Key pointsPerforming jumping rope exercises within a regular soccer program can be an additional method to improve balance and motor coordination.The performance improvement in the Harre Circuit Test associated with jump rope training can potentially be attributed to an enhancement of the inter-limb coordination and SSC ability.Results from the present study indicate that young soccer players should be encouraged to practice general physical activities together with sport-specific exercise during their training sessions.
Keywords: Muscle power; deliberate practice; motor skills; plyometric exercise; postural control.