Analysis of repeated high-intensity running performance in professional soccer

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Carling, C. ; Le Gall, F., ; Dupont, G. (2012)

The aims of this study conducted in a professional soccer team were two-fold: to characterise repeated high-intensity movement activity profiles in official match-play; b) to inform and verify the construct validity of tests commonly used to determine repeated-sprint ability in soccer by investigating the relationship between the results from a test of repeated-sprint ability and repeated high-intensity performance in competition. High-intensity running performance (movement at velocities >19.8 km/h for a minimum of 1-s duration) in 20 players was measured using computerised time motion analysis. Performance in 80 French League 1 matches was analysed. In addition, 12 out of the 20 players performed a repeated-sprint test on a non-motorized treadmill consisting of 6 consecutive 6s sprints separated by 20s passive recovery intervals. In all players, the majority of consecutive high-intensity actions in competition were performed after recovery durations ≥61s, recovery activity separating these efforts was generally active in nature with the major part of this spent walking, and players performed 1.1±1.1 repeated high-intensity bouts (a minimum of 3 consecutive high-intensity with a mean recovery time ≤20s separating efforts) per game. Players reporting lowest performance decrements in the repeated-sprint ability test performed more high-intensity actions interspersed by short recovery times (≤20s, p<0.01 and ≤30s, p<0.05) compared to those with higher decrements. Across positional roles, central-midfielders performed a greater number of high-intensity actions separated by short recovery times (≤20s) and spent a larger proportion of time running at higher intensities during recovery periods while fullbacks performed the most repeated high-intensity bouts (statistical differences across positional roles from p<0.05 to p<0.001). These findings have implications for repeated high-intensity testing and physical conditioning regimens.
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