The purpose of the study was to characterize and compare the position specific activity profiles of young and senior elite soccer players with special emphasis put on accelerations and decelerations.
Eight professional senior matches were tracked using the ZXY tracking system and analyzed for number of accelerations and decelerations and running distances within different speed zones. Likewise, four U19- and five U17 matches were analyzed for comparison between youth and senior players. In senior players the total distance (TD) was 10776±107 m with 668±28 and 143±10 m being high-intensity running (HIR) and sprinting, respectively.
Number of accelerations and decelerations were 81±2 and 84±3, with central defenders performing the lowest- and wide players the highest number. Declines were found between first and second halves for accelerations and decelerations (11±3 %), HIR (6±4 %) and TD (5±1 %), whereas sprinting distance did not differ. U19 players performed a higher number of accelerations, decelerations and TD compared to senior players.
In conclusion, differences in number and distribution of accelerations and decelerations appeared between player positions, which is of importance when monitoring training and match loads and when prescribing specific training exercises. Further, youth players performed as much high-intensity activities as senior players indicating that this is not a discriminating physiological parameter between these players.
Authors: Vigh-Larsen JF1, Dalgas U, Andersen TB.