Analysis of High Intensity Activity in Premier League Soccer

Di Salvo, V., Gregson, W., Atkinson, G., Tordoff, P., Drust, B.

The aim of this study was to conduct a detailed analysis of high-intensity running activity in elite soccer players during match-play, as well as to assess its importance to overall team success. Data from 563 outfield players competing in the English Premier League from 2003/2004 to 2005/2006 were analyzed using a computerized tracking system (Prozone®).

High-intensity activities analyzed included total high-intensity running distance (THIR), total sprint distance (TSD), and the number and type of sprints performed. THIR both in possession and without possession of the ball was also examined.

The study found that THIR varied based on playing position, with wide midfielders covering the highest distance (1,049 ┬▒ 106 m) and central defenders the lowest (681 ┬▒ 128 m) (p < 0.001). Furthermore, there was a relationship between high-intensity activity and team success, with teams finishing in the bottom five and middle ten league positions completing significantly more THIR compared to teams in the top five (p = 0.003). THIR and TSD showed significant declines during the second half of matches, with the greatest decrements observed in wide midfielders and attacking players (p < 0.05). Both positional differences in high-intensity activity and changes in activity throughout the game were influenced by team success (p < 0.05). Overall, the study suggests that high-intensity activity during elite soccer match-play is influenced by playing position, previous activity in the game, and team success. This indicates that the overall technical and tactical effectiveness of the team may be more crucial in determining success in soccer than high levels of physical performance alone.

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