Ability to recover after 'maximum effort' is crucial to make football's top flight

October 11, 2018, Institute of Physics
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Footballers' ability to recover after high-intensity effort may not depend on their age, but on their division level, a new study has suggested.

A multinational team of scientists led by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) carried out maximum-effort tests with Spanish division one and division two soccer players.

They then measured the players' oxygen consumption, and ventilation during .

Professor Francisco Javier Calderón Montero, from UCM, is the study's lead author. He said: "Regardless of a player's technical ability, the ability to repeat sprints is essential in soccer. Players may need to every 90 seconds during a game, meaning the available will be short."

"We wanted to discover if the difference in the recovery time before the next sprint were linked to the level at which a soccer player competes."

The researchers' findings, published today in Physiological Measurement, show that compared to first division players, second division players took longer to recover from maximum effort exertion.

Professor Montero explained: "Our results showed second division players had higher and heart rate than first division players after 90 seconds of recovery time. These differences were still clear after 180 seconds of recovery time."

"The second division players, therefore, took much longer to recover to the point where they were able to repeat the effort. They are therefore unlikely to be able to repeat sprints as often and as intensely as first division players."

A huge sample of one-hundred-and-ninety-four male players, from seven clubs in the Spanish Professional Football League, took part in the study. There were 114 first division and 80 second division players comprising: 12 goalkeepers, 57 defenders, 86 midfield players, and 39 strikers.

All underwent the same maximum effort test. They first warmed up by running on a treadmill for two minutes at 4 km/h, before increasing their speed until they reached a heart rate of 120-130 bpm. They maintained this for three minutes. After this warm-up period, they could rest to stabilize the respiratory quotient (RQ) at <1). Researchers recorded the players' carbon dioxide production and RQ every 10 seconds.

The maximum effort test began at a speed of 6 km/h, and a one per cent slope. The players' running speed increased by 2 km/h every two minutes until they reached maximum effort. The players then underwent a three-minute period of active recovery.

Although the team found a difference in recovery time between players from divisions one and two, the position in which they played had no bearing on the results.

Corresponding author Dr. Luca Paolo Ardigò, from the University of Verona, said: "A possible explanation may be that the second division players always played in lesser category clubs with lower training demands. However, the players in our study showed no differences in self-declared duration of training or weekly recovery."

"It is possible that the intensity of training differed, and further study is needed to uncover whether this is a factor."

Explore further: New agility tests can discriminate between soccer players at different performance levels

More information: 'Cardio-respiratory values during recovery from exercise in soccer Spanish leagues' 2018 Physiol. Meas. 39 105003, DOI: 10.1088/1361-6579/aae0e8

Related Stories

New agility tests can discriminate between soccer players at different performance levels

May 15, 2018
Agility—the ability to rapidly and tactically change speed or direction—is an important factor in soccer performance. A new study reports that two new agility tests can successfully discriminate between youth soccer players ...

More sprints in top-class football necessitates new and individualized training routines

January 18, 2017
Today's top-class football is characterised by more short sprints than in the past. In English Premier League, high-intensity running has increased by 50% in the last 10 years, presenting new challenges to the players in ...

British Asian footballers ignored by scouts from professional clubs, research says

April 11, 2018
British Asians are being excluded from professional soccer clubs because scouts will not come to watch them play in amateur clubs, research says.

Top soccer players are under-performing because of gambling, research says

April 7, 2016
Some top soccer players are under-performing because of worries about gambling losses, new research says.

Soccer success is all about skill: study

November 29, 2017
A new study led by UQ School of Biological Sciences Professor Robbie Wilson used analytic techniques developed in evolutionary biology to determine the impact of a player's skill, athletic ability, and balance on their success ...

The tricks to playing extra time in the World Cup

July 5, 2018
England's shootout victory against Colombia was the latest World Cup knockout game to go into extra time—and pundits noted how, as ever, the 30-minute period placed extra physical demands on the players, as well as affecting ...

Recommended for you

Neck device shows promise in protecting the brain of female soccer players

October 15, 2018
A new study of female high school soccer players suggests that a neck collar may help protect the brain from head impacts over the course of a competitive soccer season.

Study: Sexes differ when it comes to comfort during and after exercise

October 9, 2018
New research from the University at Buffalo has, for the first time, identified differences between men and women in their preferences for maintaining comfort both while exercising and in recovery. The results could one day ...

Physical exercise improves the elimination of toxic proteins from muscles

September 28, 2018
A study published in Scientific Reports by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in partnership with colleagues in the United States and Norway, shows that the lack of muscle stimulus results in a buildup ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.