Variations in High-Intensity Running and Fatigue During Semi-Professional Soccer Matches

Sparks M., Coetzee B., Gabbett T.J.

The aim of the study was to determine the fatigue rates and pacing strategies of players during matches by quantifying high-intensity running (HIR) in rolling 5-minute periods. Ten semi-professional players were monitored with 10Hz global positioning system (GPS) units during 12 official A-league matches. Match data was categorized into total distance covered and HIR (>3.7 m/min) for rolling 5-minute intervals. Distance covered in the first half was used to classify players into low- (LAG), moderate- (MAG), and high-activity groups (HAG).

The MAG showed a moderate difference in HIR at 5 minutes after the peak period. The HAG showed moderate to large declines in distance covered between the first 15 minutes of the second half (103.9 m/min). They also showed small to moderate declines in HIR during the first 10 minutes of the second half (25.7 m/min). The LAG showed a small to moderate increase in distance covered during the last 10 minutes of the second half (95.7 m/min) compared to the first half (84.4 m/min).

First-half activity profiles had a significant impact on recovery after the most intense 5-minute periods. Additionally, the study showed an end-spurt occurring towards the end of a match, supporting the possibility of pacing strategies.

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