Respiratory and Muscular Perceived Exertion During Official Games in Professional Soccer Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The aim of this study was to assess the respiratory and muscular session ratings of perceived exertion (PE) after official soccer matches over an extended period of time (ie, 2 competition seasons) in relation to playing time (>20, 20–45, 45–70, and >70 min) and to determine the between-matches variability of both scores in young professional soccer players.


Forty players belonging to the same reserve team of a Spanish La Liga club participated in this study. Respiratory and muscular PE were collected 10 min after every game. A total of 841 individual PE ratings were undertaken on outfield players.


The differences between match respiratory and muscular load differ depending on the playing time, the respiratory PE being greater for the players that competed less than 45 min (effect size = –0.45 ± 0.45 for the 20- to 45-min group) and the muscular PE greater for players that played more than 45 min (effect size = 0.23 ± 0.30, for the 45- to 70-min group). Match-to-match PE variability was considerable (CV = 14–54%) for all levels of participation, but it was lower the longer the players participated.


Playing time influenced the relative exertion that players’ respiratory and leg musculature were exposed to during a game, suggesting that differential PE scores might provide a more accurate evaluation of match-imposed internal load. However, the small-magnitude differences between respiratory and muscular session ratings of PE observed in the current study might question the practical relevance of assessing both scores.

Los Arcos is with the School of Teaching, and Yanci and Martínez-Santos, the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Science, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Méndez-Villanueva is with ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar.

Address author correspondence to Asier Los Arcos at