For a sport like soccer, the physical stress from competition constantly varies based on opponent, playing surface, competition schedule and so forth. Advancements in technology have resulted in the development and application of GPS monitoring to quantify training load during practices and competitions. However, this technology can be cost prohibitive for many sub-elite organizations with lower budgets.
A recent study published ahead of print in the JSCR by Nedelec et al. (2013) investigated the effectiveness of an alternative method for quantifying training load in soccer playes. The researchers performed time motion analyses on 10 elite male players over 4 competitions. They logged a series of typical soccer actions (i.e., changes of direction, short sprints, etc.) to quantify the physical load of the matches. In addition, subjective soreness measures from questionnaires, creatine kinase and performance metrics (6 second sprint, counter-movement jump and maximal isometric hamstrings contraction) were evaluated before, 24, 48 and 72 hours after the competitions. The athletes diets were controlled and they were told to abstain from using any recovery modalities (cold tubs, sauna, massage, etc.) so not to effect time to recovery. As expected, all performance markers decreased while muscle soreness increased during the 72 hours following competition. The main findings were that soreness levels were significantly correlated to number of short sprints at 48 and 72 hours post match. In addition, a strong relationship was observed between counter-movement jump decrement at 24 hours post match and hard changes of direction.
This study demonstrates a clear relationship between number of short sprints, decelerations and changes of direction from a soccer match and neuromuscular fatigue lasting up to 3 days post-match. This method of game analysis poses as a great alternative to expensive GPS monitoring equipment and software systems. This information can be very useful when planning training between competitions, particularly when matches are scheduled at a higher frequency or throughout tournament play. Training can be resumed sooner after games of lower physical stress or delayed when fatigue is high. This strategy may be helpful in keeping athletes healthy throughout the competitive season.
Nedelec, M., Mccall, A., Carling, C., Legall, F., Berthoin, S., & Dupont, G. (2013). The influence of soccer playing actions on the recovery kinetics after a soccer match. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Ahead of print.