Physical Demands and Internal Response in Football Sessions According to Tactical Periodization

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: The objectives of the present study were (1) to analyze the internal and external load profile of training and competition carried out by semiprofessional football players during a 27-week period and (2) to examine the possible link between this type of periodization and players’ fitness status and their readiness to compete. Methods: Training and match data were obtained from 26 semiprofessional football players belonging to the reserve squad of a Spanish La Liga club during the 2018/19 season. For the purpose of this study, the distribution of external and internal load during a typical training microcycle, with 6 or 7 days between matches, was analyzed. Five types of sessions were considered: strength, duration, velocity, preofficial match, and official match. Results: The results showed a different internal and external load profile for each type of session, with the load being consistently higher during matches when compared with training sessions (28.9%–94% higher), showing significant differences in all the variables. There was a clear tapering strategy in the last days of the week to arrive with enough freshness to compete, shown by the decrease of the values in the 2 days before the match (15%–83% reduction, depending on the variable). Furthermore, the horizontal alternation of the load allowed the players to maintain their fitness level during the 27-week period. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that this weekly periodization approach could help achieve a double conditional target, allowing a short tapering strategy to face the match with enough freshness and serving as a strategy for maintaining or optimizing players’ physical performance during the season.

Guridi Lopategui and Echeazarra Escudero are with the Real Sociedad de Fútbol SAD, Donostia-San Sebastian (Gipuzkoa), País Vasco, Spain. Castellano Paulis and Echeazarra Escudero are with the Universidad del País Vasco, Vitoria Gasteiz, País Vasco, Spain.

Guridi Lopategui (ibai.guridi@realsociedad.eus) is corresponding author.
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