Energy Cost and Metabolic Power in Elite Soccer: A New Match Analysis Approach

Osgnach C., Poser S., Bernardini R., Rinaldo R., Di Prampero P.E.

Purpose: Video match analysis is used for the assessment of physical performances of professional soccer players, particularly for the identification of ‘‘high intensities’’ considered as ‘‘high running speeds.’’ However, accelerations are also essential elements setting metabolic loads, even when speed is low. We propose a more detailed assessment of soccer players’ metabolic demands by video match analysis with the aim of also taking into account accelerations.

Methods: A recent study showed that accelerated running on a flat terrain is equivalent to running uphill at constant speed, the incline being dictated by the acceleration. Because the energy cost of running uphill is known, this makes it possible to estimate the instantaneous energy cost of accelerated running, the corresponding instantaneous metabolic power, and the overall energy expenditure, provided that the speed (and acceleration) is known. Furthermore, the introduction of individual parameters makes it possible to customize performance profiles, especially as it concerns energy expenditure derived from anaerobic sources. Data from 399 ‘‘Serie-A’’ players (mean ± SD; age = 27 ± 4 yr, mass = 75.8 ± 5.0 kg, stature = 1.80 ± 0.06 m) were collected during the 2007–2008 season.

Results: Mean match distance was 10,950 ± 1044 m, and average energy expenditure was 61.12 ± 6.57 kJ/kg. Total distance covered at high power (920 W/kg) amounted to 26% and corresponding energy expenditure to approximately 42% of the total. ‘‘High intensities’’ expressed as high-power output are two to three times larger than those based only on running speed.

Conclusions: The present approach for the assessment of top-level soccer players match performance through video analysis allowed us to assess instantaneous metabolic power, thus redefining the concept of ‘‘high intensity’’ on the basis of actual metabolic power rather than on speed alone.

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