The Quantification of Physical Performance and Internal Training Load in Youth Male Soccer Players During Preseason

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Diogo V. Martinho University of Coimbra, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal
Laboratory of Robotics and Engineering Systems, Interactive Technologies Institute, Funchal, Portugal

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André Rebelo CIDEFES, Centro de Investigação em Desporto, Educação Física e Exercício e Saude, Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal
COD, Center of Sports Optimization, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal

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Adam Field Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom

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Alex S. Ribeiro University of Coimbra, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal

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Filipa Pereira University of Coimbra, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal

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Bruno Bizarro University of Coimbra, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal

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João Ribeiro Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, University Institute of Maia, Porto, Portugal
Department of Performance Optimization, GOD, Sporting Clube de Braga SAD, Braga, Portugal

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Silvano M. Len Universidad de Ciencias de la Cultura Física y el Deporte “Manuel Fajardo,”Havana, Cuba

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Élvio R. Gouveia Laboratory of Robotics and Engineering Systems, Interactive Technologies Institute, Funchal, Portugal
Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal

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Hugo Sarmento University of Coimbra, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal

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Purpose: The monitoring of training loads and quantification of physical performance are common practices in youth soccer academies to support coaches in prescribing and programming training for individuals. The interaction between training load and physical performance is unknown during a preseason period in youth soccer players. The current study assessed changes in training load and physical assessments across a 4-week preseason period. The relationship between physical performance and match playing time in youth male soccer players was also investigated. Methods: The training loads of 25 professional youth academy male soccer players were monitored throughout a 4-week preseason period. Assessments of power, agility, speed, and aerobic capacity were undertaken in the first training session. Session ratings of perceived exertion (sRPE) and well-being questionnaires were collected during all training sessions and preseason matches. Playing time during subsequent competitive matches was recorded. Results: T test and 30-m-sprint assessments, conducted on the first day of preseason, were predictors of sRPE throughout preseason (t test χ2/df = 2.895, poor adjustment; 30-m sprint χ2/df = 1.608, good adjustment). YoYo Test performance was related with changes in perceived fatigue (χ2/df = 0.534, very good adjustment). Faster players reported higher values of sRPE, and players with higher aerobic capacity reported higher levels of fatigue across preseason. Well-being, perceived fatigue and soreness, and sRPE decreased across preseason. Greater match durations were related to higher levels of fatigue during preseason (P < .05). Conclusion: The current study highlights the relationship between training load, physical assessments, and playing time. Coaches and practitioners can use physical test data at the start of preseason as an indication of players that report higher sRPE, perceived fatigue, and reduced well-being across preseason, supporting decisions around individualized training prescriptions.

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