Adding eccentric overload to a junior training program has proven performance benefits in all standard tests like strength, sprinting, jumping, shooting, change of direction, etc. Exxentric CEO, Fredrik Correa, explains the reasons why:
Over the past years, there have been numerous studies aimed at exploring the benefits of flywheel training for youth athletes. As opposed to conventional weight training, flywheel training is based on the inertia generated by a spinning flywheel, which creates safe eccentric overload and variable, isoinertial resistance that lends itself to injury prevention.
Although many junior and senior soccer teams are already implementing some sort of physical preparation training, the standards and efficacy of these protocols often leave a lot of room for improvement. For this reason, including a dedicated, flywheel-based strength and conditioning program in your team’s training is likely to lead to game-changing benefits in the performance of your players. Especially for local clubs who are often limited by access to equipment, training space, or the experience level of their players – a flywheel-based approach has key benefits including footprint, ease of use, and training flexibility.
What Is Eccentric Overload?
Eccentric overload refers to a form of training where you have a higher load in the eccentric phase (the lowering portion of the lift) than you can lift concentrically (upward motion). To achieve this effect with conventional weight training, you would need the weight to relatively increase on the downward portion of the same movement. This is obviously a tricky thing to accomplish and is the reason why eccentric overload is largely a “flywheel-specific” form of training – since it is so easily implemented with a flywheel device like the kBox.
Why Bother With Eccentric Overload?
First of all, the eccentric portion of the lift is crucial to achieving regular strength training effects like building strength and mass – with numerous studies showing it to be more stimulating to hypertrophy than the concentric phase. The eccentric phase is also really important when it comes to athletic performance because movements like sprinting, jumping, and cutting (changing direction) all involve eccentric phases that require the athlete to decelerate, absorb, and transfer energy into that action. With low eccentric strength, that force transfer is much lower and much more likely to cause injury.
Eccentric strength is also very specific and won’t increase with exclusively concentric training – “use it or lose it” as S&C coaches always say. While eccentric overload is crucial for all levels of athletes, it becomes especially significant in allowing well-trained athletes to continue improving. As an athlete continues to get stronger, regular strength training hits greater diminishing returns for athletic performance. This necessitates the implementation of eccentric overload in order to continue improving the sport-specific actions described above.
Eccentric Overload in Soccer
While obviously beneficial for all athletes, what are the reasons you should use eccentric overload training in soccer training, specifically? Here are a few important scientific papers that investigate the undeniable benefits of flywheel training for soccer training:
1. Flywheel Training Benefits in Junior Soccer Training (scientific evidence)
This study split 34 junior soccer players into groups performing a plyometric (normal strength program) or eccentric overload program for 6 weeks and compared improvements in jumping, sprinting, change of direction, and shooting ability. As a result, the flywheel group using isoinertial resistance and eccentric overload saw significant improvement in all the tested metrics when compared to the plyometric group.
2. Effects of Flywheel Training on Physical Capacities in Soccer Players (scientific evidence)
This Meta-Analysis compiled eleven studies to determine the effects of flywheel training on key performance metrics among soccer players. The training durations ranged from 6 weeks to 27 weeks, with volume ranging from 1 to 6 sets and 6 to 10 repetitions, and frequency from 1 to 2 times a week.
The results of this systematic review reported that a diverse range of flywheel training programs effectively improves all the key performance metrics including strength, power, jump, and changes of direction in male soccer players of varying age and training experience.
3. Strength Training Strategies for Injury Prevention in Soccer Players (scientific evidence)
The primary goal of this study was to determine whether strength training, in the form of traditional resistance, eccentric, or flywheel training, is a valid method of reducing injury risk in soccer players. While the evidence suggests that all forms of strength training are beneficial, the study recommends eccentric overload and flywheel training as particularly effective.
The study found that eccentric training offers unique physiological responses compared with other resistance exercise modalities. Moreover, flywheel training has specific training peculiarities and advantages that are related to the combination of both concentric and eccentric contraction, which may play an even more important role in injury prevention.
Other Key Advantages
On top of scientifically documented performance benefits, flywheel training with devices like the kBox, offers other key benefits for Youth Soccer Teams and Clubs.
Ease of Use and Implementation
- Variable resistance automatically adjusts to every user – simplifying loading, group training turn-around, and exercise transition.
- Isoinertial resistance, training accessories, and simplified loading all make learning new movement patterns simpler and safer than traditional methods.
Compact and Portable
- Flywheel training puts an entire training facility into a single, portable device.
- Train outdoors, on the road, or anywhere else!
- Flywheel training lets you load movements in all directions, giving you a whole new range of sport-specific exercises.
- Train lateral movement, rotation, single-leg power, and more!
Easy to Track and Implement Performance Data
- With the Exxentric App, you can easily measure, track, and compare training data for all your players
- Tracking progress, autoregulating intensity, or adjusting training cycles has never been simpler
My Personal Recommendation
Many studies use a single-exercise device to standardize results, which is largely unnecessary and needlessly expensive for the majority of teams or clubs. With a limited budget, I would focus on adding a kBox to my team’s training program. This would be my top set of 3 exercises:
- Squat – to improve jumping ability, linear acceleration, and speed.
- Lateral Squat – to improve change of direction speed and lateral power.
- RDL – to improve sprinting ability, strengthen posterior chain, and possibly reduce risk of injury.
Fredrik Correa, M.D., CEO