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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Figure 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.
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, W.kg-1) or locomotor demands (PGPS, W.kg-1). 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 W.kg-1 distances (all CVs >50%), while total distance, average PVO2 and PGPS showed CVs <10%. ICC ranged from very low- (acceleration and >20 W.kg-1 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 W.kg-1 questions its value for monitoring purposes in soccer.
Key words: soccer, acceleration, deceleration, energy demands, soccer-specific, training load.