Evaluation of the Most Intense High-Intensity Running Period in English FA Premier League Soccer Matches

Di Mascio M., Bradley P.S.

The aim of this study was to examine the most intense period of high-intensity running during elite soccer matches. Elite players (n = 100) were analyzed using a multicamera computerized tracking system. High-intensity running (speed > 19.8 km/h) in 5-minute periods were quantified during matches. High-intensity running was performed for approximately 3% of total time, but this doubled (F[1,99] = 9.179, p < 0.001, d > 1.2) during the most intense period (8.4 ± 2.7 vs. 16.4 ± 4.6 seconds). Recovery time between high-intensity efforts was approximately 30 seconds during the most intense period (33.3 ± 19.7 seconds). The work
ratio between high-intensity bouts increased (F[1,99] = 2.018, p < 0.001, d > 0.6) from 1:12 for the match average to 1:2 during the most intense period. The distance of each discrete high-intensity running bout increased (F[1,99] = 1.958, p < 0.001, d > 0.6) approximately 13% during the most intense period compared with that of the match average (6.7 ± 1.8 vs. 5.8 ± 0.6 m). Central defenders were running at high-intensity for less (F[4,95] = 4.907, p < 0.05, d > 0.6) time than full-backs, wide midfielders, and attackers (12.9 ± 2.4 vs. 17.9 ± 3.4, 18.3 ± 5.5, and 16.9 ± 3.8 seconds). Central defenders had a greater recovery time (F[4,95] = 3.083, p < 0.05, d > 0.6) between high-intensity efforts than wide midfielders. No differences were evident between playing positions for maximum running speed and average distances of high-intensity running. These results show that high-intensity running, work
ratios, and average high-intensity distances change markedly during the most intense period of matches and are highly dependent on positional role. Therefore, conditioning drills and performance tests should closely mimic distances, work
ratios, and recovery times of those found during the most intense period of matches.

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