During the competitive soccer season, women’s intercollegiate matches are typically played on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The efficacy of a 42-h recovery period is not well understood. This investigation was conducted to determine performance differences between Friday and Sunday matches during a competitive season.
Ten NCAA Division I female soccer players (20.5 ± 1.0 y, 166.6 ± 5.1 cm, 61.1 ± 5.8 kg) were monitored with 10-Hz GPS devices across 8 weekends with matches played on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The players were outside backs, midfielders, and forwards. All players had to participate in a minimum of 45 min/match to be included in the study. Average minutes played, total distance covered, total distance of high-intensity running (HIR) (defined as running at a velocity equal to or exceeding 3.61 m/s for longer than 1 s), the number of HIR efforts, and the number of sprints were calculated for each match. Data for Friday vs Sunday matches were averaged and then compared using dependent t tests.
No differences were seen in minutes played, distance rate, or number of sprints between Friday and Sunday matches. A significant (P = .017) decrease in rate of HIR between Friday (25.37 ± 7.22 m/min) and Sunday matches (22.90 ± 5.70 m/min) was seen. In addition, there was a trend toward a difference (P = .073) in the number of efforts of HIR between Friday (138.41 ± 36.43) and Sunday (126.92 ± 31.31).
NCAA Division I female soccer players cover less distance of HIR in games played less than 48 h after another game. This could be due to various factors such as dehydration, glycogen depletion, or muscle damage.
McCormack is with the Dept of Health and Human Sciences, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA. Hoffman, Pruna, Scanlon, Bohner, Townsend, Jajtner, Stout, Fragala, and Fukuda are with the Inst of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.