Changes in a Top-Level Soccer Referee’s Training, Match Activities, and Physiology Over an 8-Year Period: A Case Study

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Athlete case studies have often focused on the training outcome and not the training process. Consequently, there is a dearth of information detailing longitudinal training protocols, yet it is the combined assessment of both outcome and process that enhances the interpretation of physical test data. We were provided with a unique opportunity to assess the training load, physical match performance, and physiological fitness of an elite soccer referee from the referee’s final season before attaining full-time, professional status (2002) until the season when he refereed the 2010 UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals. An increased focus on on-field speed and gym-based strength training was observed toward the end of the study period and longitudinal match data showed a tendency for decreased total distances but an increased intensity of movements. Laboratory assessments demonstrated that VO2max remained stable (52.3 vs 50.8 mL-kg–1-min–1), whereas running speed at the lactate threshold (14.0 vs 12.0 km-h-1) and running economy (37.3 vs 43.4 mLkg–1min–1) both improved in 2010 compared with 2002.

Matthew Weston is with the Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences, School of Social Sciences & Law, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK. Warren Gregson is with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. Carlo Castagna is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Rome, Italy. Simon Breivik is with Professional Game Match Offcials Limited, FA Premier League, London, UK. Franco M. Impellizzeri is with CeRiSM—Research Centre “Sport, Mountain and Health” Rovereto, University of Verona, Italy. Ric J. Lovell is with the Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Hull, Kingston upon Hull, UK.