Quantification of Seasonal-Long Physical Load in Soccer Players With Different Starting Status From the English Premier League: Implications for Maintaining Squad Physical Fitness

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To quantify the accumulative training and match load during an annual season in English Premier League soccer players classified as starters (n = 8, started ≥60% of games), fringe players (n = 7, started 30–60% of games) and nonstarters (n = 4, started <30% of games).

Methods

Players were monitored during all training sessions and games completed in the 2013–14 season with load quantified using global positioning system and Prozone technology, respectively.

Results:

When including both training and matches, total duration of activity (10,678 ± 916, 9955 ± 947, 10,136 ± 847 min; P = .50) and distance covered (816.2 ± 92.5, 733.8 ± 99.4, 691.2 ± 71.5 km; P = .16) were not different between starters, fringe players, and nonstarters, respectively. However, starters completed more (all P < .01) distance running at 14.4–19.8 km/h (91.8 ± 16.3 vs 58.0 ± 3.9 km; effect size [ES] = 2.5), high-speed running at 19.9–25.1 km/h (35.0 ± 8.2 vs 18.6 ± 4.3 km; ES = 2.3), and sprinting at >25.2 km/h (11.2 ± 4.2 vs 2.9 ± 1.2 km; ES = 2.3) than nonstarters. In addition, starters also completed more sprinting (P < .01, ES = 2.0) than fringe players, who accumulated 4.5 ± 1.8 km. Such differences in total high-intensity physical work done were reflective of differences in actual game time between playing groups as opposed to differences in high-intensity loading patterns during training sessions.

Conclusions

Unlike total seasonal volume of training (ie, total distance and duration), seasonal high-intensity loading patterns are dependent on players’ match starting status, thereby having potential implications for training program design.

Anderson, Orme, Milsom, Morgans, and Drust are with Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Close and Morton are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Di Michele is with the Dept of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Address author correspondence to James Morton at J.P.Morton@ljmu.ac.uk.