Straight-Line and Change-of-Direction Intermittent Running in Professional Soccer Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To investigate the difference between straight-line (STL) and change-of-direction (COD) intermittent-running exercises in soccer players. Methods: Seventeen male professional soccer players performed the agility T test and 6 intermittent-running exercises: 10 s at 130% of maximal aerobic speed (MAS) alternated with 10 s of rest (10-10), 15 s at 120% of MAS alternated with 15 s of rest (15-15), and 30 s at 110% of MAS alternated with 30 s of rest (30-30) both in STL and with COD. All exercises were monitored using a global positioning system. Heart rate was measured during exercises, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was collected postexercise. The difference (Δ) between covered distance in STL and COD exercises at a similar load was calculated, and relationships between T test and Δ distance were analyzed. Results: COD intermittent exercises showed a significantly decreased distance covered and an increase in the number of accelerations, peak heart rate, and RPE compared with STL intermittent exercises at a similar load. High relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 10-10 (r = .72, P < .01) and 15-15 (r = .77, P < .01), whereas no significant relationships were observed between T-test performance and Δ distance in 30-30 (r = −.37, P = .2). Conclusion: Intermittent COD exercises were associated with higher acceleration, peak heart rate, and RPE than STL during 10-10 and 15-15 exercises. The ability to rapidly change direction is crucial to perform intense sport-specific running in professional soccer players.

Fessi, Farhat, and Moalla are with the High Inst of Sport and Physical Education, Sfax University, Sfax, Tunisia. Dellal is with the Interuniversity Laboratory of Human Movement Biology, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France. Malone is with the Faculty of Science, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Moalla (wassim.moalla@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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