The best soccer players are fast and getting faster

Here’s an interesting study that looks at the speed and jumping ability of Norwegian players. The thing that makes it so interesting is that it looked at almost 1,000 players over a 15 year period. That kind of data set is almost impossible to obtain. The study supports two of the most common things I mention on FFF:

  1. That players are getting faster
  2. That speed is a differentiating factor for performance


Int J Sports Physiol Perform.?2012 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Anaerobic?Performance Testing of Professional?Soccer?Players 1995-2010.

Haugen TA,?T?nnessen E,?Seiler S.


Norwegian Olympic Federation, Oslo, Norway.



The purpose of this investigation was to compare sprint and countermovement jump (CMJ) performance among competitive?soccerplayers as a function of performance level, field position and age. In addition, we wanted to quantify the evolution of these physical characteristics among professional players over a 15 year period.


939 athletes (22.1 ?4.3 yr), including national team players, tested 40m sprint with electronic timing and CMJ on a force platform at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1995 and 2010.


National team and 1st division players were faster (p<0.05) than 2nd division (1.0-1.4 %), 3rd-5th division (3.0-3.8 %), junior national team (1.7-2.2 %) and junior players (2.8-3.7 %). Forwards were faster than defenders (1.4 %), midfielders (2.5 %) and goalkeepers (3.2 %) over 0-20m (p<0.001). Midfielders jumped ~2.0 cm lower than the other playing positions (p<0.05). Sprinting velocity peaked in the age range 20-28 yr and declined significantly thereafter (p<0.05). Players from time epoch 2006-2010 had 1-2 % faster 0-20m and peak velocity than players from the 1995-1999 and 2000-2005 epochs, whereas no differences in CMJ performance were observed.


This study provides effect magnitude estimates for the influence of performance level, position and age on sprint and CMJ performance in?soccer. While CMJ performance has remained stable over the time, there has been a small but positive development in sprinting velocity among professional players.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.
Category : Research, Speed