Match running performance and fitness in youth soccer.
Physiology Unit, Sport Science Department, ASPIRE, Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar. firstname.lastname@example.org
The activity profiles of highly trained young soccer players were examined in relation to age, playing position and physical capacity. Time-motion analyses (global positioning system) were performed on 77 (U13-U18; fullbacks [FB], centre-backs [CB], midfielders [MD], wide midfielders [W], second strikers [2 (nd)S] and strikers [S]) during 42 international club games. Total distance covered (TD) and very high-intensity activities (VHIA; >16.1 km·h (-1)) were computed during 186 entire player-matches. Physical capacity was assessed via field test measures (e. g., peak running speed during an incremental field test, VVam-eval). Match running performance showed an increasing trend with age ( P<0.001, partial eta-squared (η (2)): 0.20-0.45). When adjusted for age and individual playing time, match running performance was position-dependent ( P<0.001, η (2): 0.13-0.40). MD covered the greater TD; CB the lowest ( P<0.05). Distance for VHIA was lower for CB compared with all other positions ( P<0.05); W and S displayed the highest VHIA ( P<0.05). Relationships between match running performance and physical capacities were position-dependent, with poor or non-significant correlations within FB, CB, MD and W (e. g., VHIA vs. VVam-eval: R=0.06 in FB) but large associations within 2 (nd)S and S positions (e. g., VHIA vs. VVam-eval: R=0.70 in 2 (nd)S). In highly trained young soccer players, the importance of fitness level as a determinant of match running performance should be regarded as a function of playing position.