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J Sports Sci. 2016 Dec;34(24):2215-2223. Epub 2016 May 4.

Match-to-match variability in high-speed running activity in a professional soccer team.

Author information

a Institute of Coaching and Performance , University of Central Lancashire , Preston , UK.
b Department of Research and Development , LOSC Lille Métropole Football Club , Lille , France.
c Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences , Liverpool John Moores University , Liverpool , UK.
d Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences, Research Department for Sports and Exercise Science , Edinburgh Napier University , Edinburgh , UK.
e University of Lille Nord de France , UDSL , Ronchin , France.


This study investigated variability in competitive high-speed running performance in an elite soccer team. A semi-automated tracking system quantified running performance in 12 players over a season (median 17 matches per player, 207 observations). Variability [coefficient of variation (CV)] was compared for total sprint distance (TSD, >25.2 km/h), high-speed running (HSR, 19.8-25.2 km/h), total high-speed running (THSR, ≥19.8 km/h); THSR when the team was in and out of ball possession, in individual ball possession, in the peak 5 min activity period; and distance run according to individual maximal aerobic speed (MAS). Variability for % declines in THSR and distance covered at ≥80% MAS across halves, at the end of play (final 15 min vs. mean for all 15 min periods) and transiently (5 min period following peak 5 min activity period), was analysed. Collectively, variability was higher for TSD versus HSR and THSR and lowest for distance run at ≥80% MAS (CVs: 37.1%, 18.1%, 19.8% and 11.8%). THSR CVs when the team was in/out of ball possession, in individual ball possession and during the peak 5 min period were 31.5%, 26.1%, 60.1% and 23.9%. Variability in THSR declines across halves, at the end of play and transiently, ranged from 37.1% to 142.6%, while lower CVs were observed in these metrics for running at ≥80% MAS (20.9-53.3%).These results cast doubt on the appropriateness of general measures of high-speed activity for determining variability in an elite soccer team, although individualisation of HSR thresholds according to fitness characteristics might provide more stable indicators of running performance and fatigue occurrence.


Football; locomotor activity; performance; time motion analysis; variation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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