Effect of long-term soccer training on changes in cardiac function during exercise in elite youth soccer players

Viswanath Balagopalan Unnithan*, Thomas Rowland, Keith George, Andisheh Bakhshi, Alexander Beaumont, Nicholas Sculthorpe, Rachel Nia Lord, David Lee Oxborough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


It is unclear what the effect of long-term, high-volume soccer training has on left ventricular (LV) function during exercise in youth soccer players. This study evaluated changes in LV function during submaximal exercise in a group of highly trained male soccer players (SP) as they transitioned over a three-year period from pre-adolescent to adolescent athletes. Data were compared to age- and sex-matched recreationally active controls (CON) over the same time period. Twenty-two SP from two professional English Premier League youth soccer academies (age: 12.0 ± 0.3 years at start of the study) and 15 CON (age: 11.7 ± 0.3 years) were recruited. Two-dimensional echocardiography was used to quantify LV function during exercise at the same submaximal metabolic load (approx. 45%VO2peak) across the 3 years. After controlling for growth and maturation, there were training-induced changes and superiority (p < 0.001) in cardiac index (QIndex) from year 1 in the SP compared to CON. SP (year 1: 6.13 ± 0.76; year 2: 6.94 ± 1.31; and year 3: 7.20 ± 1.81 L/min/m2) compared to CON (year 1: 5.15 ± 1.12; year 2: 4.67 ± 1.04; and year 3: 5.49 ± 1.06 L/min/m2). Similar training-induced increases were noted for mitral inflow velocity (E): SP (year 1: 129 ± 12; year 2: 143 ± 16; and year 3: 135 ± 18 cm/s) compared to CON (year 1: 113 ± 10; year 2: 111 ± 12; and year 3: 121 ± 9 cm/s). This study indicated that there was evidence of yearly, training-induced increases in left ventricular function during submaximal exercise independent from the influence of growth and maturation in elite youth SP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-902
Number of pages11
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue number5
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022


  • submaximal exercise
  • left ventricular function
  • youth soccer training


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