Quantification of Training and Match-Load Distribution Across a Season in Elite English Premier League Soccer Players

Kelly D.M., Strudwick A.J., Atkinson G., Drust B., Gregson W.

Objective: To examine training and match loads undertaken by soccer players competing in the English Premier League.
Methods: Using a retrospective design, external (GPS) and internal training loads (session ratings of perceived exertion [sRPE-TL]) were examined in 26 players across the competition phase of the 2012–2013 English Premier League season. Within-subject linear mixed models estimated the mean effects (95% confidence interval [CI]) for load data across 6-week mesocycles and 1-week microcycles.
Results: Daily sRPE-TL (95% CI range, 15 to 111 AU) and total distance (95% CI range, 179 to 949 AU) were higher during the early stages (mesocycles 1 and 2) of the competition period. Overall, high-speed activity was similar between mesocycles. Across the training week, load was greater on match day and lower pre-match day (G-1) vs. all other days, respectively (p < 0.001). sRPE-TL (~70–90 AU per day) and total distance (~700–800 m per day) progressively declined over the 3 days before a match (p < 0.001). High-speed distance was greater 3 days (G-3) before a game vs. G-1 (95% CI, 140 to 336 m) while very high-speed distance was greater on G-3 and G-2 than G-1 (95% CI range, 8 to 62 m; p < 0.001). Conclusion: Periodization of in-season training load is mainly evident across the weekly microcycle reflecting the recovery and preparation for matches.

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