Training team sport athletes can be a challenging task. The physical demands of these types of sports require the development of various physical qualities across the entire performance spectrum. Athletes need to possess a sufficient level of aerobic fitness to ensure they are conditioned enough to last the duration of a competition without undue fatigue. In addition, team sport athletes must be explosive and powerful so that they may excel during the brief bouts of high intensity, intermittent play so commonly seen in soccer, basketball, rugby and so on. Training to develop such contrasting physical qualities requires appropriate programming. Some coaches prefer to isolate certain physical qualities where only the selected quality will be emphasized for a given training block. For example, the development of aerobic fitness would not be emphasized at the same time as power. Other coaches prefer a more concurrent approach to training where more than one fitness quality is emphasized at the same time.
A new study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine investigates the efficacy of concurrent training in pre-pubescent male and female athletes. Marta and coworkers (2013) divided 125 healthy 10-11 year old athletes into 3 groups; a strength training only group; a strength training plus endurance training group and; a control group. The researchers wanted to see how the two training programs affected explosive strength and VO2 max after training twice per week for 8 consecutive weeks. Both groups similarly improved markers of explosive strength which included 1kg and 3kg ball throwing, standing long jump, and running speed. Neither training group, nor sex factors appeared to influence these results. Significant improvements in VO2 max occurred only in the concurrent training group as one would expect.
The results of this study indicate that improvements in explosive strength do not appear to be impeded by the inclusion of simultaneous endurance training and vice-versa, in pre-pubescent athletes. It is important to realize that such young athletes are going to have minimal levels of strength and aerobic fitness to begin with. These are ideal candidates for such methods of training as they are extremely adaptable. Coaches should use caution when applying the results of a study such as this to older, more advanced athletes whose window for adaptation is considerably smaller. However, for those involved in youth sports, it appears that you can use concurrent training methods with confidence to simultaneous improve conditioning and strength performance in pre-pubescent athletes.
Marta, C., Marinho, D. A., Barbosa, T. M., Izquierdo, M., & Marques, M. C. (2013). Effects of Concurrent Training on Explosive Strength and VO2max in Prepubescent Children. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(10): 888-896.