In-Season Training Periodization of Professional Soccer Players

Los Arcos, A., Mendez-Villanueva, A., Martínez-Santos, R.

The purpose of this study was to measure the seasonal perceived respiratory and muscular training loads (sRPEres-TL and sRPEmus-TL) completed by elite-oriented young professional soccer players. Twenty-four players (20.3 ± 2.0 years) from the reserve team of a Spanish La Liga club participated in the study. Only players who were available to train for a full week with the team and also played in the weekly game were considered, categorized as Starters (those who participated in the match for at least 45 minutes) and Non-Starters (those who did not participate or played less than 45 minutes).

The competitive period was analyzed in 5×6-8 week blocks and 35×1 week microcycles. Data were also analyzed with respect to the number of days before the immediate match. Weekly TL variation across the in-season blocks was minimal to small for both groups, except between Block 2 and Block 3 where the effect size was moderate. Significant TL differences were found between training days, with a pattern of progressive increase up to three days before the match (MD-3), followed by a decrease until the day before the match (MD-1). Apart from the match, sRPEres-TL and sRPEmus-TL were very similar between Starters and Non-Starters.

In summary, perceived TL across the season showed limited variation. Coaches effectively periodized training contents to achieve the highest weekly TL 72 hours before the match, gradually reducing the load between MD-3 and match day. The data indicated that the TL resulting from the weekly game was primarily responsible for the higher weekly TL observed in Starters compared to Non-Starters.

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