An Individual Approach to Monitoring Locomotive Training Load in English Premier League Academy Soccer Players

Abbott, W., Brickley, G., Smeeton, N.J.

To address the individual intensity of locomotion tasks, individualized speed thresholds have been proposed as an alternative to global speed thresholds. However, methodologies for determining individual speed thresholds have typically been laborious and expensive, making them impractical for applied practitioners working with large squads.

The current investigation utilized easy-to-administer field tests to individualize speed thresholds. The aim was to investigate differences between high-speed locomotion measured using global and individual speed thresholds.

Nineteen male professional soccer players completed maximum sprint and maximum aerobic speed protocols and were divided into groups based on their maximum aerobic speed performance (high, medium, and low). Locomotion data were collected using portable Global Positioning System units and analyzed using global and individual analysis methods to determine distances traveled performing high-speed running, very high-speed running, and sprinting.

In low-performing athletes, the individual analysis method produced significantly higher percentages of high-speed running, very high-speed running, and sprinting compared to the global method (mean differences 7.8%, 6.1%, and 1.7%, respectively, all p < 0.001). In medium-performing athletes, no significant differences were found between analysis methods for high-speed running and very high-speed running. In high-performing athletes, the individual analysis method produced significantly lower percentages of high-speed running and very high-speed running compared to the global method (mean differences 11.0% and 6.8%, p < 0.001). Results concluded that global thresholds produced high-speed locomotion percentages significantly higher or lower than individual thresholds for 47% of athletes. The current investigation recommends the use of field tests to individualize speed thresholds, allowing applied practitioners to accurately quantify individual athlete intensity.

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