Influence Of Tactical Formation On Average And Peak Demands Of Elite Soccer Match-Play

Calder AR, Gabbett TJ

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have provided practitioners with information on the physical activity profiles, such as distance covered, high-speed running, and sprint speeds, of team-sport players. However, to date, there is no available literature identifying the average or peak physical demands of elite soccer in the USA. This investigation aims to quantify the activity profiles and most demanding passages of elite soccer competition within different positions, periods, and tactical formations.

Activity profiles were captured from 449 whole-period and 661 peak-period data from 24 field players, from one club, across a 31-game Major League Soccer season. Total distance covered (metres), average speed (m·min⁻¹), and number of acceleration and deceleration (m·s⁻²) efforts were used to comprise whole-period profiles. Peak values for speed (m·min⁻¹) were obtained by using a moving-average approach for durations lasting 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 minutes. Across all positions, the 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3, and 4-3-3 formations showed a decrease in average speed between the first and second halves (ES [range] = 0.10 – 2.91). The 4-3-1-2 yielded greatest whole-period accelerations and decelerations for full backs (ES [range] = 0.09 – 2.63), and overall distance covered and average speed for strikers (ES [range] = 0.39 – 2.57). Most peak intensities were observed in the first half of match-play, with attacking midfielders and strikers demonstrating their greatest activity during the first half of a 4-3-1-2 formation.

Altering tactical formations results in different physical outputs for all positional groups. Depending on the formation implemented, positional groups resulted in differences in physical outputs between halves during match-play.

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