Quantification of Seasonal-Long Physical Load in Soccer Players With Different Starting Status From the English Premier League: Implications for Maintaining Squad Physical Fitness
ISSPF FACULTY MEMBER PUBLICATION
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To quantify the accumulative training and match load during an annual season in English Premier League soccer play-ers classified as starters (n = 8, started ≥60% of games), fringe players (n = 7, started 30–60% of games) and nonstarters (n = 4, started <30% of games).
Methods: Players were monitored during all training sessions and games completed in the 2013–14 season with load quantified using global positioning system and Prozone technology, respectively.
Results: When including both training and matches, total duration of activity (10,678 ± 916, 9955 ± 947, 10,136 ± 847 min; P = .50) and distance covered (816.2 ± 92.5, 733.8 ± 99.4, 691.2 ± 71.5 km; P = .16) were not different between starters, fringe players, and nonstarters, respectively. However, starters completed more (all P < .01) distance running at 14.4–19.8 km/h (91.8 ± 16.3 vs 58.0 ± 3.9 km; effect size (ES) = 2.5), high-speed running at 19.9–25.1 km/h (35.0 ± 8.2 vs 18.6 ± 4.3 km; ES = 2.3), and sprinting at >25.2 km/h (11.2 ± 4.2 vs 2.9 ± 1.2 km; ES = 2.3) than nonstarters. In addition, starters also completed more sprinting (P < .01, ES = 2.0) than fringe players, who accumulated 4.5 ± 1.8 km. Such differences in total high-intensity physical work done were reflective of differences in actual game time between playing groups as opposed to differences in high-intensity loading patterns during training sessions.
- Data from this study suggest that players classified as fringe players and non-starters should engage in additional high-intensity training practices and/or complete relevant time in non-competitive friendlies and U21 games in an attempt to recreate the high-intensity physical load typically observed in competitive first team games.
- This point is especially important given the relevance and importance of high-intensity activity in both building and maintaining aspects of soccer specific fitness.
- Unlike total seasonal volume of training (i.e., total distance and duration), seasonal high-intensity loading patterns are dependent on players’ match starting status, thereby having potential implications for training program design.