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

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Purpose: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.Methods: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.Results: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 (O2max) 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 O2max 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 O2max (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.Conclusion: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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