The effects of an enrichment training program for youth football attackers


The aim of this study was to identify the effects of a complementary training program based on differential learning approach in the physical, technical, creative and positioning performance of youth football attackers. Fifteen players were allocated into the control (U15C = 9, age: 13.9±0.5 years; U17C = 6, age: 16.1±0.7 years) and the experimental (U15E = 9, age: 14.2±0.8 years; U17E = 6, age: 15.8±0.5 years) groups. The experimental groups participated in 10-weeks of a complementary training program based on differential learning approach to improve physical literacy and players’ tactical behaviour. Variables studied encompassed: motor (vertical jump, speed and repeated change-of direction), technical (pass, dribble and shot), creative (fluency, attempts, versatility) and positioning-related variables (stretch index, spatial exploration index and regularity of the lateral and longitudinal movements). Results revealed that U15E improved both the jump and repeated change-of-direction performance, while the U17E have only improved the jump performance. The U15E showed improvements in all technical variables (small to large effects), and in the fluency and versatility (moderate effects), while the U17 have only improved the successful shots (large effects). From a positional perspective, there was a moderate increase in the stretch index, and decreased longitudinal and lateral regularity (small to moderate effects) in the U15E compared to the U15C. In turn, the U17E revealed a moderate increase of the spatial exploration index and a small decrease in the stretch index. Overall, the results suggest that the complementary training program was effective for the development of the overall performance of the U15E attackers, while more time and/or variability may be needed for older age groups. Nevertheless, the overall higher values found in experimental groups, may suggest that this type of complementary training program improves performance.