Vertical force production in soccer: mechanical aspects and applied training strategies

 In sports science

Loturco I, Bishop C, Freitas T, Pereira L, Jeffreys I. Vertical Force Production in Soccer: Mechanical Aspects and Applied Training Strategies. Strength & Cond J 2019.

  • DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000513


Introduction: The vertical force production (VFP) is especially important when it is considered that these actions typically occur during decisive game situations (i.e., a short sprint when scoring a goal). As a result, practitioners are constantly seeking more accurate and applied information regarding the actual role played by VFP in elite soccer, as well as the most effective strategies to enhance this ability throughout the competitive season.

Purpose: to discuss the importance of VFP in soccer and presents some considerations about the effects of different training elements (i.e., exercise type and loading intensity) on the physical performance of elite soccer players).

Method: 22 studies, which are discussed throughout the article and which allowed an analysis to determine the potential of different training strategies to increase vertical jumping ability, linear speed, and COD speed in elite soccer players


  • VFP and vertical jump performance: Soccer players able to apply greater amounts of force in and through vertically directed exercises (i.e., squat variations and loaded vertical jumps) are potentially able to perform better in different vertical jump tests, under loaded or unloaded conditions. For some authors, these strong relationships may be explained by the mechanical similarities and resemblances in movement patterns between squat- based movements and vertical jumps.
  • Sprinting speed and VFP: The limits in the maximum velocities reached by soccer players might be related to (among other things) their “lower capacity” to generate the vertical impulse required to produce adequate (i.e., longer) flight times across the entire acceleration phase. Although elite soccer players predominantly sprint over short distances and rarely run close to their top speeds, improvements in maximum running velocity (through the appropriate development of VFP) could considerably increase their “speed reserve”, reducing the relative chronic workload and, hence, the associated risk of injury.
  • Influences on CoD: If the propulsive phase of a COD maneuver starts from a more flexed position, the VFP is crucial to return the body to a more upright and sprint available posture. Given that for COD maneuvers with similar movement patterns (i.e., more flexed angles) greater vertical ground reaction forces are related to faster completion times, practitioners might consider training strategies focused on enhancing the VFP of social players to also elicit positive adaptations in COD kinetic and kinematic variables.

Take homes messages

– VFP allow soccer players improve the jump performance, achieve greater COD speeds, and better tolerate the chronic match and training workload by increasing their speed reserve.

– An adequate management of types of exercises and loading intensity will allow better VFP development (no more, no less, the optimal stimulus).

– Managing the variable “force vector” by practitioners is a key point. Horizontal force (HFP) exercises (i.e., very heavy sled) should be combined with exercises to improve VFP. Both vectors are crucial during sprint, either for the acceleration phase (HFP) or maximum speed (VFP).


Radzimiński L, Szwarc A, Padron-Cabo A, Astrzębski Z. Correlations between body composition, aerobic capacity, speed level and distance covered during the official matches in professional soccer players, 2019.

  • DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.19.09979-1


Introduction: Linear sprint, curve sprint and COD are crucial actions during soccer matches. Bearing in mind the aforementioned considerations and the fact that high-intensity running (HIR) and sprint performance are crucial in teams’ success, more research is needed to predict the performance in function of body composition and physical fitness.

Purpose: The aims of our study were to: (1) investigate prospective relations between the players’ speed potential, aerobic capacity, body composition and distance covered in different speed zones during the official soccer matches and (2) compare the match performance variables according to playing position.

Method: 23 professional soccer players (age: 27.9 ± 4.58 y) participated in the study. During 13 weeks of competitive season players participated in 16 official matches, and performed body composition analyses (i.e., fat mass (FM)), sprint test, multi-stage shuttle run test (MST), and incremental running test (IRT).


  • Time-motion analysis demonstrated significant differences between positions in total distance, high-speed running, sprinting and player load. The longest total distance (11114 ± 581m) and sprinting distance (267 ± 134m) was covered by wide midfielders. Strikers were running the most in HSR (1965 ± 141m).
  • The significant correlations between distance covered in sprinting with FM (figure 1, r = -0.57, p < 0.0001), Vmax (r = 0.44, p < 0.001), MST distance (r = 0.45, p < 0.001), V/LT (r = 0.19, p = 0.034), and 30m sprint time (r = – 0.25, p = 0.004) were found.


– The distance covered to sprint is key, a simple variable to control as low fat content contributes to perform higher speed running during the matches, an action that partly determines the performance game.

– There is no ideal FM ratio for soccer, but in the vast majority of elite players, lower body fat content is decisive for maximum performance.

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