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J Sports Sci. 2003 Jul;21(7):519-28.

Match performance of high-standard soccer players with special reference to development of fatigue.

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Institute of Exercise and Sport Sciences, August Krogh Institute, Department of Human Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 13, DK-2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark.


The aim of this study was to assess physical fitness, match performance and development of fatigue during competitive matches at two high standards of professional soccer. Computerized time-motion analyses were performed 2-7 times during the competitive season on 18 top-class and 24 moderate professional soccer players. In addition, the players performed the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test. The top-class players performed 28 and 58% more (P < 0.05) high-intensity running and sprinting, respectively, than the moderate players (2.43 +/- 0.14 vs 1.90 +/- 0.12 km and 0.65 +/- 0.06 vs 0.41 +/- 0.03 km, respectively). The top-class players were better (11%; P < 0.05) on the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test than the moderate players (2.26 +/- 0.08 vs 2.04 +/- 0.06 km, respectively). The amount of high-intensity running, independent of competitive standard and playing position, was lower (35-45%; P < 0.05) in the last than in the first 15 min of the game. After the 5-min period during which the amount of high-intensity running peaked, performance was reduced (P < 0.05) by 12% in the following 5 min compared with the game average. Substitute players (n = 13) covered 25% more (P < 0.05) ground during the final 15 min of high-intensity running than the other players. The coefficient of variation in high-intensity running was 9.2% between successive matches, whereas it was 24.8% between different stages of the season. Total distance covered and the distance covered in high-intensity running were higher (P < 0.05) for midfield players, full-backs and attackers than for defenders. Attackers and full-backs covered a greater (P < 0.05) distance in sprinting than midfield players and defenders. The midfield players and full-backs covered a greater (P < 0.05) distance than attackers and defenders in the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test (2.23 +/- 0.10 and 2.21 +/- 0.04 vs 1.99 +/- 0.11 and 1.91 +/- 0.12 km, respectively). The results show that: (1) top-class soccer players performed more high-intensity running during a game and were better at the Yo-Yo test than moderate professional players; (2) fatigue occurred towards the end of matches as well as temporarily during the game, independently of competitive standard and of team position; (3) defenders covered a shorter distance in high-intensity running than players in other playing positions; (4) defenders and attackers had a poorer Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test performance than midfielders and full-backs; and (5) large seasonal changes were observed in physical performance during matches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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