Training Practices of Football Players During the Early COVID-19 Lockdown Worldwide

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Jad Adrian WashifSports Performance Division, Institut Sukan Negara Malaysia (National Sports Institute of Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Iñigo MujikaDepartment of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Basque Country
Exercise Science Laboratory, School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Finis Terrae, Santiago, Chile

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Matthew D. DeLangRight to Dream Academy, Old Akrade, Ghana

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João BritoPortugal Football School, Portuguese Football Federation, Oeiras, Portugal

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Alexandre DellalLaboratoire Interuniversitaire de Biologie de la Motricité (LIBM EA), Claude Bernard University (Lyon 1), Lyon, France
Sport Science and Research Department, Centre Orthopédique Santy, FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Lyon, France

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Thomas HaugenSchool of Health Sciences, Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway

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Bahar HassanmirzaeiSports Medicine Research Center, Neuroscience Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Iran Football Medical Assessments and Rehabilitation Center (IFMARC), FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Tehran, Iran

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Del P. WongSchool of Nursing and Health Studies, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Hong Kong

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Abdulaziz FarooqAspetar, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Doha, Qatar

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Gürhan DönmezDepartment of Sports Medicine, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey

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Kwang Joon KimDepartment of Internal Medicine,Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea

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Juan David Peña DuqueAl Hilal Football Club, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Lewis MacMillanSport Science Department, Fulham Football Club, London, United Kingdom

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Ryo MatsunagaAntlers Sports Clinic, Kashima, Japan
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tokyo Medical University, Ibaraki, Japan

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Alireza RabbaniDepartment of Exercise Physiology, College of Sport Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

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Mohamed RomdhaniMovement–Interactions–Performance (MIP), UR4334, Le Mans Université, Le Mans, France

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Montassar TabbenAspetar, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Doha, Qatar

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Yacine ZerguiniFIFA Medical Center of Excellence Algiers, Algiers, Algeria
Medical Committee, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), Abuja, Nigeria

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Piotr ZmijewskiJozef Pilsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

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David B. PyneResearch Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

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Karim ChamariAspetar, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Doha, Qatar

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The COVID-19 lockdown challenged the training options of athletes worldwide, including players from the most popular sport globally, football/soccer. Purpose: The authors explored the training practices of football players worldwide during the COVID-19 lockdown. Methods: Football players (N = 2482, 30% professional, 22% semipro, and 48% amateur) completed an online survey (May–July 2020) on their training practices before versus during lockdown (March–June 2020). Questions were related to training frequency and session duration, as well as training knowledge and attitudes. Results: Before lockdown, more professional (87%) than semipro (67%) and amateur (65%) players trained ≥5 sessions/wk, but this proportion decreased during the lockdown to 55%, 35%, and 42%, respectively. Players (80%–87%) trained ≥60 minutes before lockdown, but this proportion decreased to 45% in professionals, 43% in amateurs, and 36% in semipros during lockdown. At home, more than two-thirds of players had training space (73%) and equipment (66%) for cardiorespiratory training, while availability of equipment for technical and strength training was <50% during lockdown. Interactions between coach/trainer and player were more frequent (ie, daily) among professional (27%) than amateur (11%) and semipro (17%) players. Training load monitoring, albeit limited, was mostly performed by fitness coaches, more so with professionals (35%) than amateurs (13%) and semipros (17%). The players’ training knowledge and attitudes/beliefs toward training were relatively modest (50%–59%). Conclusion: COVID-19 lockdown negatively affected training practices of football players worldwide, especially amateurs and semipros, for example, in training frequency, duration, intensity, technical, recovery, and other fitness training and coaching-related aspects. During lockdown-like situations, players should be monitored closely and provided appropriate support to facilitate their training.

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