Power, Endurance, and Body Composition Changes Over a Collegiate Career in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Women Soccer Athletes

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The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research


The purpose of this study was to determine longitudinal changes in fitness and body composition throughout athletes' 4-year collegiate soccer careers. Performance testing occurred before preseason during freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year in 17 female Division I soccer players. Body composition was assessed through air-displacement plethysmography to determine percent body fat (%BF), fat-free mass (FFM), and body mass (BM). Maximal countermovement vertical jump height was assessed through contact mat using arm swing (CMJAS) and hands-on-hips (CMJHOH) methods to calculate power (CMJwatts/HOHwatts). Aerobic capacity (V̇o2max) and ventilatory threshold (VT) were assessed by indirect calorimetry during a maximal graded exercise test on a treadmill. Linear mixed models were used to assess changes across academic years (p < 0.05). No changes occurred in %BF, BM, V̇o2max, VT, CMJAS, or CMJwatts. A time main effect was seen for FFM (p = 0.01) with increases from freshman to senior (p = 0.02). Time main effects were observed for CMJHOH (p < 0.001) and CMJHOHwatts (p < 0.001) with increases from freshman to junior (CMJHOH,p = 0.001; CMJHOHwatts, p = 0.02) and senior (CMJHOH, p < 0.001; CMJHOHwatts, p = 0.003) as well as sophomore to senior (CMJHOH, p < 0.001; CMJHOHwatts, p = 0.02). Countermovement vertical jump with hands on hips also increased from sophomore to junior (p = 0.005). The lower FFM and power capabilities as freshmen compared with upperclassman indicate a potential limited readiness. Coaches and training staff should account for these developmental differences when entering the preseason. Adequate conditioning programs before starting a collegiate program may help build a fitness foundation and prepare freshmen athletes to compete at the same level as their upperclassmen counterparts.



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