Effect of Two Soccer Matches in a Week on Physical Performance and Injury Rate

Dupont, G., Nedelec, M., McCall, A., McCormack, D., Berthoin, S., Wisløff, U.

This cohort study aimed to examine the impact of playing two matches per week on physical performance and injury rates among male elite soccer players. Over two seasons (2007–2008 and 2008–2009), data from 32 professional soccer players from a top-level team participating in the UEFA Champions League were analyzed.

The study collected data on match results, match-related physical performance metrics (such as total distance covered, high-intensity distance, sprint distance, and number of sprints), and injuries over the course of 52 home matches.

The results indicated that physical performance metrics, including total distance covered and high-intensity distance, were not significantly influenced by the number of matches per week (1 versus 2). However, the injury rate was significantly higher when players had two matches per week compared to one match per week (25.6 versus 4.1 injuries per 1000 hours of exposure; p < .001). In conclusion, the findings suggest that while the recovery time between two matches (72 to 96 hours) may be adequate to maintain physical performance levels, it is insufficient to maintain a low injury rate. Therefore, the study emphasizes the importance of player rotation and the implementation of improved recovery strategies to minimize injury risks during congested match schedules.

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