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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2003 Mar;43(1):14-20.

Test performance indicators from a single soccer specific fitness test differentiate between highly trained and recreationally active soccer players.

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Physical Education and Sport, School of Education, Reading University, Reading, UK.



The aim of this study was to investigate whether a single soccer specific fitness test (SSFT) could differentiate between highly trained and recreationally active soccer players in selected test performance indicators.



13 Academy Scholars (AS) from a professional soccer club and 10 Recreational Players (RP) agreed to participate in this study. Test 1--VO(2) max was estimated from a progressive shuttle run test to exhaustion. Test 2--The SSFT was controlled by an automated procedure and alternated between walking, sprinting, jogging and cruise running speeds. Three activity blocks (1A, 2A and 3A) were separated by 3 min rest periods in which blood lactate samples were drawn. The 3 blocks of activity (Part A) were followed by 10 min of exercise at speeds alternating between jogging and cruise running (Part B).


Estimated VO(2) max did not significantly differ between groups, although a trend for a higher aerobic capacity was evident in AS (p<0.09). Exercising heart rates did not differ between AS and RP, however, recovery heart rates taken from the 3 min rest periods were significantly lower in AS compared with RP following blocks 1A (124.65 b x min(-1) +/-7.73 and 133.98 b x min(-1) +/-6.63), (p<0.05) and 3A (129.91 b x min(-1) +/-10.21 and 138.85 b x min(-1) +/-8.70), (p<0.01). Blood lactate concentrations were significantly elevated in AS in comparison to RP following blocks 2A (6.91 mmol x l(-1) +/-2.67 and 4.74 mmol x l(-1) +/-1.28) and 3A (7.18 mmol x l(-1) +/-2.97 and 4.88 mmol x l(-1) +/-1.50), (p<0.05). AS sustained significantly faster average sprint times in block 3A compared with RP (3.18 sec +/-0.12 and 3.31 sec +/-0.12), (p<0.05).


The results of this study show that highly trained soccer players are able to sustain, and more quickly recover from, high intensity intermittent exercise.

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