Assessing stride variables and vertical stiffness with GPS-embedded accelerometers: preliminary insights for the monitoring of neuromuscular fatigue on the field

Buchheit, M., Gray, A., and Morin J.B. Assessing stride variables and vertical stiffness with GPS-embedded accelerometers: preliminary insights for the monitoring of neuromuscular fatigue on the field. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, In press, 2015


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The aim of the present study was to examine the ability of a GPS-imbedded accelerometer to assess stride variables and vertical stiffness (K), which are directly related to neuromuscular fatigue during field-based high-intensity runs. The ability to detect stride imbalances was also examined. A team sport player performed a series of 30-s runs on an instrumented treadmill (6 runs at 10, 17 and 24 km/h) with or without his right ankle tapped (aimed at creating a stride imbalance), while wearing on his back a commercially-available GPS unit with an embedded 100-Hz tri-axial accelerometer. Contact (CT) and flying (FT) time, and K were computed from both treadmill and accelerometers (Athletic Data Innovations) data. The agreement between treadmill (criterion measure) and accelerometer-derived data was examined. We also compared the ability of the different systems to detect the stride imbalance. Biases were small (CT and K) and moderate (FT). The typical error of the estimate was trivial (CT), small (K) and moderate (FT), with nearly perfect (CT and K) and large (FT) correlations for treadmill vs. accelerometer. The tape induced very large increase in the right – left foot ∆ in CT, FT and K measured by the treadmill. The tape effect on CT and K ∆ measured with the accelerometers were also very large, but of lower magnitude than with the treadmill. The tape effect on accelerometer-derived ∆ FT was unclear. Present data highlight the potential of a GPS-embedded accelerometer to assess CT and K during ground running.

Keywords: movement tracking; fatigue monitoring; 

Monitoring locomotor load in soccer: is metabolic power, powerful?

Buchheit M, Manouvrier C, Cassirame J and Morin JB. Monitoring locomotor load in soccer: is metabolic power, powerful? Int J Sport Med, In press, 2015.

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MetabonotpowerulFigure 1. Oxygen uptake (VO2), speed and metabolic power estimated from locomotor demands (PGPS) during the warm-up and the 3 exercise bouts in a representative player. VO2max: maximal oxygen uptake reached during an incremental test to exhaustion.

Interview – discussion podcast on the paper here 



The aim of the present study was to examine the validity and reliability of metabolic power (P) estimated from locomotor demands during soccer-specific drills. Fourteen highly-trained young soccer players (15.4±1.6 yr) performed a soccer-specific circuit with the ball (3 x 1-min bouts, interspersed with 30-s passive recovery) on two different occasions. Locomotor activity was monitored with 4-Hz GPS units, while oxygen update (VO2) was collected with a portable gas analyzer. P was calculated using either net VO2 responses and traditional calorimetry principles (PVO2, or locomotor demands (PGPS, Distance covered into different speed, acceleration and P zones was recorded. Players covered 30 times more distance >20 W/kg (PGPS) than >14.4 km.h-1. While PGPS was 29 ± 10 % lower than PVO2 (Cohen’s d<-3) during the exercise bouts, it was 85 ± 7 % lower (d<-8) during recovery phases. The typical error of the estimate between PGPS vs PVO2 was moderate: 19.8%, 90% confidence limits: (18.4;21.6). The correlation between both estimates of P was small: 0.24 (0.14;0.33). Very large day-to-day variations were observed for acceleration, deceleration and >20 distances (all CVs >50%), while total distance, average PVO2 and PGPS showed CVs <10%. ICC ranged from very low- (acceleration and >20 distances) to-very high (PVO2). To conclude, PGPS largely underestimates the energy demands of soccer-specific drills, especially during the recovery phases. Together with its moderate agreement with calorimetry-related P estimations, the poor reliability of PGPS >20 questions its value for monitoring purposes in soccer.

Key words: soccer, acceleration, deceleration, energy demands, soccer-specific, training load.

Change of direction speed in soccer: How much braking is enough?

Hader K, Palazzi D and Buchheit M. Change of direction speed in soccer: How much braking is enough? Kinesiology 47(2015) 1:44-52

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Figure 1. Running speed during 20-m sprints with (45º and 90º) or without (straight line, SL) change of direction. The grey area represents the change of direction.



The aims of the present study were to examine 1) the validity and reliability of a new timing system to assess running kinematics during change of direction (COD), and 2) the determinants of COD-speed. Twelve young soccer players performed three 20-m sprints, either in straight line or with one 45º- or 90º-COD. Sprints were monitored using timing gates and two synchronized 100-Hz laser guns, to track players’ velocities before, during and after the COD. The validity analysis revealed trivial-to-small biases and smallto-moderate typical errors of the estimate with the lasers compared with the timing gates. The reliability was variable-dependent, with trivial- (distance at peak speed) to-large (distance at peak deceleration) typical errors. Kinematic variables were angle-dependent, with likely lower peak speed, almost-certainly slower minimum speed during the COD and almost-certainly greater deceleration reached for 90º-COD vs. 45º-COD sprints. The minimum speed during the COD was largely correlated with sprint performance for both sprint angles. Correlations with most of the other independent variables were unclear. The new timing system showed acceptable levels of validity and reliability to assess some of the selected running kinematics during COD sprints. The ability to maintain a high speed during the COD may be the determinant for COD-speed.

Key words: acceleration, deceleration, speed profile, sprint, laser gun, soccer

Psychometric and physiological responses to a pre-season competitive camp in the heat with a 6-hr time difference in elite soccer players

Buchheit, M., Cholley Y. and Lambert P. Psychometric and physiological responses to a pre-season competitive camp in the heat with a 6-hr time difference in elite soccer players. IJSPP, In press.

Purpose. The aim of the present study was to examine in elite soccer players some psychometric and physiological responses to a competitive camp in the heat, after travelling across 6 time-zones. Methods. Data from 12 elite professional players (24.6±5.3 yr) were analyzed. They participated in an 8-day pre-season summer training camp in Asia (heat index 34.9±2.4 ⁰C). Players’ activity was collected during all training sessions and the friendly game using 15-Hz GPS. Perceived training/playing load was estimated using session rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and training/match duration. Psychometric measures of wellness were collected upon awakening before, during and after the camp using simple questionnaires. HR response to a submaximal 4-min run (12 km/h) and the ratio between velocity and force load (accelerometer-derived measure, a marker of neuromuscular efficiency) response to 4 ~60-m runs (22-24 km/h) were collected before, at the end and after the camp. Results. After a large increase, the RPE/m.min-1 ratio decreased substantially throughout the camp. There were possible small increases in perceived fatigue and small decreases in subjective sleep quality on the 6th day. There were also likely moderate (~3%) decreases in HR response to the submaximal run, both at the end and after the camp, which were contemporary to possible small (~8%) and most-likely moderate (~19%) improvements in neuromuscular efficiency, respectively. Conclusions. Despite transient increases in fatigue and reduced subjective sleep quality by the end of the camp, these elite players showed clear signs of heat acclimatization, which were associated with improved cardiovascular fitness and neuromuscular running efficiency.

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Figure 1. Upper panel: change in locomotor load (measured via GPS) and heat index before, during and after the Asian camp. The flights represent the different flying trips, with their specific duration indicated into brackets. As wearing GPS was not allowed during the official match, the total distance covered was extrapolated from historical club data (Team A) against Team B for illustration. The timing of the monitoring sessions is also indicated, with Run standing for the submaximal run and the 4 60-m runs, and Wellness for the psychometric questionnaires. Lower panel: changes in perceived training load (rate of perceived exertion, RPE, method) and the RPE/distance per min ratio. The gray area represents the Hong Kong (HK) camp, while the grey and shaded area represents the time spent in Beijing. ****: very likely different vs. pre camp.

Keywords: heart rate monitoring, wellness, neuromuscular efficiency, association football, heat training.

A longitudinal study investigating the stability of anthropometry and soccer-specific endurance in pubertal high-level youth soccer players.

Deprez D, Buchheit M, Fransen J, Pion J, Lenoir M, Philippaerts RM, Vaeyens R.. A longitudinal study investigating the stability of anthropometry and soccer-specific endurance in pubertal high-level youth soccer players. J Sports Sci Med. 2015 May 8;14(2):418-26. eCollection 2015 Jun

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We investigated the evolution and stability of anthropometric and soccer-specific endurance characteristics of 42 high-level, pubertal soccer players with high, average and low yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYIR1) baseline performances over two and four years. The rates of improvement were calculated for each performance group, and intra-class correlations were used to verify short- and long-term stability. The main finding was that after two and four years, the magnitudes of the differences at baseline were reduced, although players with high YYIR1 baseline performance still covered the largest distance (e.g., low from 703 m to 2126 m; high from 1503 m to 2434 m over four years). Furthermore, the YYIR1 showed a high stability over two years (ICC = 0.76) and a moderate stability over four years (ICC = 0.59), due to large intra-individual differences in YYIR1 performances over time. Anthropometric measures showed very high stability (ICCs between 0.94 to 0.97) over a two-year period, in comparison with a moderate stability (ICCs between 0.57 and 0.75) over four years. These results confirm the moderate-to-high stability of high-intensity running performance in young soccer players, and suggest that the longer the follow-up, the lower the ability to predict player’s future potential in running performance. They also show that with growth and maturation, poor performers might only partially catch up their fitter counterparts between 12 and 16 years. Key pointsYoung, high-level soccer players with a relatively low intermittent-endurance capacity are capable to catch up with their better performing peers after four years.Individual development and improvements of anthropometric and physical characteristics should be considered when evaluating young soccer players.


Football; field test; high-intensity intermittent performance; maturity status; talent development

Monitoring fatigue during the in-season competitive phase in elite soccer players

Thorpe RT, AJ. Strudwick, M. Buchheit, G. Atkinson, B. Drust, W. Gregson. Monitoring fatigue during the in-season competitive phase in elite soccer players. IJSPP 2015, In press.

IJSPP MAnUFigure 1. Mean (SD) total high-intensity (THIR, >14.4 km/h) distance (m), perceived ratings of fatigue (AU), countermovement jump (cm) and Ln rMSSD (ms) during the 17-day period

Purpose To quantify the relationship between daily training load and a range of potential measures of fatigue in elite soccer players during an in-season competitive phase (17-days).
Methods Total high-intensity running distance (THIR), perceived ratings of wellness (fatigue, muscle soreness, sleep quality), counter-movement jump height (CMJ), post
exercise heart rate recovery (HRR) and heart rate variability (Ln rMSSD) were analysed during an in-season competitive period (17 days). General linear models were used to evaluate the influence of daily fluctuation in THIR distance (>14.4 km/h) on potential fatigue variables.
Results Fluctuations in fatigue (r=-0.51; large; P<0.001), Ln rMSSD (r=-0.24; small; P=0.04), and CMJ (r=0.23; small; P=0.04) were significantly correlated with fluctuations in THIR distance. Correlations between variability in muscle soreness, sleep quality and HRR and THIR distance were negligible and not statistically significant.
Conclusions Perceived ratings of fatigue and heart rate variability were sensitive to daily fluctuations in THIR distance in a sample of elite soccer players. Therefore, these particular markers show particular promise as simple, non-invasive assessments of fatigue status in elite soccer players during a short in-season competitive phase.

Key Words Training load, Performance, Recovery, Wellness


Peak match speed and maximal sprinting speed in young soccer players: effect of age and playing position

Hani Al Haddad, Ben M. Simpson, Martin Buchheit, Valter Di Salvo and Alberto Mendez-Villanueva. Peak match speed and maximal sprinting speed in young soccer players: effect of age and playing position. IJSPP, 2015, In press.

Figure 1Figure 1. Data are presented as mean and 90% confidence interval for maximal sprinting speed (MSS, white circles), peak match speed (PMSAbs, gray circles) and PMSAbs as percentage of MSS (PMSRel, black circles).


In this study we assessed the relationship between peak match speed (PMS) and maximal sprinting speed in regard to age and playing positions. Maximal sprinting speed and absolute PMS (PMSAbs) were collected from 180 male youth soccer players (U13 to U17, 15.0 ± 1.2 yrs, 161.5 ± 9.2 cm and 48.3 ± 8.7 kg). The fastest 10-m split over a 40-m sprint was used to determine maximal sprinting speed. PMSAbs was recorded using a global positioning system and was also expressed as a percentage of maximal sprinting speed (PMSRel). Sprint data were compared between age groups and between playing positions. Results showed that regardless of age and playing positions, faster players were likely to reach higher PMSAbs and possibly lower PMSRel. Despite a lower PMSAbs compared with older groups (e.g., 23.4 ± 1.8 vs. 26.8 ± 1.9 km/h for U13 and U17, respectively, ES= 1.9 90% confidence limits (1.6;2.1)), younger players reached a greater PMSRel (92.0±6.3% vs. 87.2±5.7% for U13 and U17, respectively, ES= -0.8 90% CL (-1.0; -0.5)). Playing position also affected PMSAbs and PMSRel, as strikers were likely to reach higher PMSAbs (e.g., 27.0 ± 2.7 vs. 23.6 ± 2.2 km/h for strikers and central midfielder, respectively, ES= 2.0 (1.7;2.2)) and PMSRel (e.g., 93.6 ± 5.2% vs. 85.3 ± 6.5% for striker and central midfielder, respectively, ES= 1.0 (0.7;1.3)) compared with all other positions. Present findings confirm that age and playing positions affect the absolute and relative intensity of speed-related actions during matches.

Key words: youth players, soccer, sprinting speed, playing position

@HaniAlHaddad2 @benMsimpson

Monitoring changes in Jump and Sprint Performance: Best or Average values?

H. Al Haddad, BM. Simpson and M. Buchheit. Monitoring changes in Jump and Sprint Performance: Best or Average values? IJSPP, In press

Haddad IJSPP 2015Figure 1. Number of players showing at least a likely (>75% of chances) improvement or impairment in performance when considering either the best (CMJbest) or the average (CMJaverage) counter movement jump, the best (10mbest) and average (10maverage) 10-m sprint time, or the best (MSSbest) and average (MSSaverage) maximal sprinting speed.

In this study we compared different approaches to monitor changes in jump and sprint performance while using either the best or the average performance of repeated trials. One hundred and two highly-trained young footballers (U13 to U17) performed, in two different testing sessions separated by four months, 3 countermovement jumps (total player files = 87) and 2 sprints (n = 98) over 40 m with 10-m splits to assess acceleration (first 10 m) and maximal sprinting speed (best split, MSS). Standardized group-average changes between the two testing periods and the typical error (TE) were calculated and compared for each method. The likelihood of substantial changes in performance for each individual player was also calculated. There was a small increase in jump performance (+6.1% for best and +7% for average performance). While 10-m time was likely unchanged (~+1.2% for both best and average performance), MSS showed likely small improvements (~+2.0% for both best and average performance). The TE for jumping performance was 4.8% (90% confidence limits, 4.3;5.6) and 4.3% (3.8;5.0) using either best or average values, respectively; 1.8% (1.6;2.1) and 1.7% (1.5;1.9) for 10-m time, and 2.0% (1.8;2.3) and 2.0% (1.8;2.3) for MSS. The standardized differences between TE were likely unclear or trivial for all comparisons (e.g., 10-m, 0.01 (-0.09;0.10)). The number of players showing a likely increase/decrease in performance was: 30/0 and 29/0 for best and for average jump performances, 9/4 and 12/2 for 10-m times and finally, 33/4 and 33/4 for MSS. In conclusion, the two monitoring approaches are likely to provide similar outcomes.

Key words: testing, coefficient of variation, sensitivity.

@HaniAlHaddad2 @benMsimpson

Effect of sauna-based heat acclimation on plasma volume and heart rate variability

Stanley, J., Halliday, A., D’Auria, S., Buchheit, M. and Leicht, AS. Effect of sauna-based heat acclimation on plasma volume and heart rate variability. Eur J App Physiol, In press.

PV EAJP Full text here / Video of the talk here

Purpose: We investigated the effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on plasma volume (PV) expansion and whether such responses can be tracked by changes in heart rate (HR) based measures.
Methods: Seven, well-trained, male cyclists were monitored for 35 consecutive days (17 d baseline training, 10d training plus sauna, 8d training). Sauna exposure consisted of 30 min (87°C, 11% relative humidity) immediately following normal training. Capillary blood samples were collected to assess PV changes while resting seated. HR (HRwake) and vagal-related HR variability (natural logarithm of square-root mean squared differences of successive R−R intervals, ln rMSSDwake) were assessed daily upon waking. A sub-maximal cycle test (5 min at 125 W) was performed on days 1, 8, 15, 22, 25, 29, and 35 and HR recovery (HRR60s) and ln rMSSDpostex were assessed post-exercise. Effects were examined using magnitude-based inferences.
Results: Compared with baseline, sauna resulted in: 1) peak PV expansion after 4 exposures with a likely large increase [+17.8% (90% confidence limits, 7.4;29.2)]; 2) reduction of HRwake by a trivial-to-moderate amount [−10.2% (−15.9;−4.0)]; 3) trivial-to-small changes for ln rMSSDwake [4.3% (1.9;6.8)] and ln rMSSDpostex [−2.4% (−9.1;4.9)]; and 4) a likely moderate decrease in HRR60s [−15.6% (−30.9;3.0)]. Correlations between individual changes in PV and HR measures were all unclear.
Conclusions: Sauna-bathing following normal training largely expanded PV in well-trained cyclists after just 4 exposures. The utility of HR and HRV indices for tracking changes in PV was however uncertain. Future studies will clarify mechanisms and performance benefits of post-training sauna bathing.
Keywords: heat exposure; blood volume; cardiac parasympathetic activity; post-exercise; cyclists.


Relative match intensities at high altitude in highly-trained young soccer players (isa3600)

qantas-joeys-held-to-scoreless-draw-in-bolivia_00048620-leadimageMartin Buchheit, Kristal Hammond, Pitre C. Bourdon, Ben M. Simpson, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Walter F. Schmidt, Christopher J. Gore and Robert J. Aughey. Relative match intensities at high altitude in highly-trained young soccer players (isa3600). Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, In press.

Figure 1Full text here


To compare relative match intensities of sea-level versus high-altitude native soccer players during a 2-week camp at 3600 m, data from 7 sea-level (Australian U17 National team, AUS) and 6 high-altitude (a Bolivian U18 team, BOL) native soccer players were analysed. Two matches were played at sea-level and three at 3600 m on Days 1, 6 and 13. The Yo-Yo Intermittent recovery test (vYo-YoIR1) was performed at sea-level, and on Days 3 and 10. Match activity profiles were measured via 10-Hz GPS. Distance covered >14.4 km.h-1 (D>14.4 km.h-1) and >80% of vYo-YoIR1 (D>80%vYo-YoIR1) were examined.

Upon arrival at altitude, there was a greater decrement in vYo-YoIR1 (Cohen’s d +1.0, 90%CL ± 0.8) and D>14.4 km.h-1 (+0.5 ± 0.8) in AUS. D>14.4 km.h-1 was similarly reduced relative to vYo-YoIR1 in both groups, so that D>80%vYo-YoIR1 remained similarly unchanged (-0.1 ± 0.8). Throughout the altitude sojourn, vYo-YoIR1 and D>14.4 km.h-1 increased in parallel in AUS, so that D>80%vYo-YoIR1 remained stable in AUS (+6.0%/match, 90%CL ± 6.7); conversely D>80%vYo-YoIR1 decreased largely in BOL (-12.2%/match ± 6.2).

In sea-level natives competing at high-altitude, changes in match running performance likely follow those in high-intensity running performance. Bolivian data confirm that increases in ‘fitness’ do not necessarily translate into greater match running performance, but rather in reduced relative exercise intensity.

Key words: association football; hypoxia; match running performance