Biomechanical and Physiological Response to a Contemporary Soccer Match-Play Simulation

Page, R., Marrin, K., Brogden, C., Greig, M.

The intermittent activity profile of soccer match-play increases the complexity of the physical demands. Laboratory models of soccer match-play have value in controlled intervention studies, developed around manipulations of the activity profile to elicit a desired physiological or biomechanical response. Contemporary notational analyses suggest a profile comprising clusters of repeat sprint efforts, with implications for both biomechanical and physiological load.

Eighteen male soccer players completed a 90-minute treadmill protocol based on clusters of repeat sprint efforts. Each 15-minute bout of exercise was quantified for uni-axial (medial-lateral [PLML], anterior-posterior [PLAP], and vertical [PLV]) and tri-axial PlayerLoadTM (PLTotal). The relative contributions of the uni-axial PlayerLoadTM vectors (PLML%, PLAP%, and PLV%) were also examined.

In addition to rating of perceived exertion, the physiological response comprised heart rate, blood lactate concentration, and both peak and average oxygen consumption. Tri-axial PlayerLoadTM increased (p = 0.02) with exercise duration (T0-15 = 206.26 ± 14.37 a.u; T45-60 = 214.51 ± 14.97 a.u) and remained elevated throughout the 2nd half. This fatigue effect was evident in both the PLML and PLAP movement planes. The mean relative contributions of PLV%:PLAP%:PLML% were consistent at ~48:28:23.

The physiological response was comparable with match-play, and a similar magnitude of increase at ~5% was observed in physiological parameters. Changes in PlayerLoadTM might reflect a change in movement quality with fatigue, with implications for both performance and injury risk, reflecting observations of match-play. The high frequency of speed change elicits a 23% contribution from medio-lateral load, negating the criticism of treadmill protocols as ‘linear’.

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