Physical Demands during an Elite Female Soccer Game: Importance of Training Status

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To examine the activity profile and physical loading of elite female soccer players during match play and to study the relationship between training status and physical match performance.


Time-motion analysis and HR recordings were performed on 14 elite female soccer players during competitive matches. In addition, the players carried out a laboratory treadmill test and the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test.


The total distance covered during a game was 10.3 km (range: 9.7–11.3) with high-intensity running (HIR) accounting for 1.31 km (0.71–1.70). HIR was performed 125 times (72–159) for 2.3 s (2.0–2.4) on average. The average and peak HR in a game were 167 beats per minute (bpm) (152–186) and 186 (171–205), respectively, corresponding to 87% (81–93) and 97% (96–100) of HRmax. Maximal pulmonary oxygen uptake (JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-200507000-00024/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T223005Z/r/image-pngO2max) was 49.4 mL·min−1·kg−1 (43.4–56.8), and incremental treadmill test (ITT) performance was 4.49 min (3.38–5.17). The Yo-Yo test performance was 1379 m (600–1960). The total distance covered during match play did not correlate with JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-200507000-00024/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T223005Z/r/image-pngO2max or ITT performance but correlated with the Yo-Yo test result (r = 0.56, P < 0.05). Significant positive correlations were observed between HIR and JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-200507000-00024/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T223005Z/r/image-pngO2max (r = 0.81, P < 0.05), ITT (r = 0.82, P < 0.05), and Yo-Yo test performance (r = 0.76, P < 0.05). No relationship was observed between HRmax during match play and any of the performance measures.


The present study demonstrated that 1) HIR during games varies markedly between elite female soccer players, 2) all players have high HR throughout a competitive game with periods of near-maximal values, 3) the distance covered by HIR during match play is closely related to the physical capacity, and 4) the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test can be used as an indicator of the physical match performance of elite female players.

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