Time-motion analysis is a valuable data-collection technique used to quantify the match running performance of elite soccer players. However, interpreting the reductions in running performance in the 2nd half or temporarily after the most intense period of games is highly complex, as it could be attributed to physical or mental fatigue, pacing strategies, contextual factors, or a combination of mutually inclusive factors. Given that research in this domain typically uses a reductionist approach whereby match running performance is examined in isolation without integrating other factors, this ultimately leads to a 1-dimensional insight into match performance. Subsequently, a cohesive review of influencing factors does not yet exist. The aim of this commentary is to provide a detailed insight into the complexity of match running performance and its most influential factors.
Paul and Nassis are with the National Sports Medicine Program, Aspetar, Qatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Bradley is with the Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK.