Player Load, Acceleration, and Deceleration during 45 Competitive Matches of Elite Soccer

Dalen T, Ingebrigtsen J, Ettema G, Hjelde GH, Wisløff U

Objective: This study aimed to enhance our understanding of the match load experienced by elite soccer players by incorporating tri-axial accelerometer data alongside traditional time-motion analysis.

Methodology: The dataset comprised domestic home games (n = 45) across three full seasons (2009, 2010, 2011) for Rosenborg FC, involving players from various positions: central defenders (CD, n = 68), full-backs (FB, n = 83), central midfielders (CM, n = 70), wide midfielders (WM, n = 39), and attackers (A, n = 50). Tri-axial accelerometer data were utilized to analyze acceleration and deceleration profiles during matches.

Key Findings: The study revealed that accelerations contributed to 7–10% of the total player load across all positions, while decelerations contributed to 5–7%. This highlights the significant contribution of acceleration and deceleration actions to the overall match workload. Moreover, the findings suggest that activities beyond high-intensity movements play a substantial role in players’ total match workload. Therefore, relying solely on motion analysis may underestimate player load, as many high-intensity actions do not involve changes in location on the pitch or may be classified as low-speed activity based on current standards.

Implications: The insights gained from this study have implications for individualized training program development tailored to meet the positional physical demands of elite soccer players. Coaches can use this information to better understand the various ways players experience match load and design training regimes that address the specific needs of players in different positions.

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