ArticlePDF Available

Physical Outcome in a Successful Italian Serie A Soccer Team Over Three Consecutive Seasons

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The aim of this study was to examine the physical performance of a success-Serie A team of more than three consecutive seasons. 25 players participated in the study and were classified into three playing positions: defenders (n=9), midfielders (n=11) and forward (n=5). Activities match were studied by an analysis of multiple match-camera SICS ® (Bassano del Grappa, Italy) throughout the competition Italian Serie A matches played at home (n=90) for 3 consecutive seasons (first: 2004/2005, second: 2005/2006, and third: 2006/2007). Total team ball possession and time-motion characteristics were examined. Results showed that total ball possession (52.1% to 54.9%) and the number of points accumulated at home (40/48) improved in the past three seasons while that the final ranking at home were stable. The total distances covered by minutes of play were significantly different between the three seasons (118.32±6.69m.min to 111.96±8.05m.min). Distance running and high intensity activities were similar in the three seasons, while the distance covered in moderate intensity running decreased in the third (P<0.05). Variations between playing positions were found during the three-consecutive seasons, with midfielders covering greater distances than defenders (P<0.05) and forward (P<0.01). This study showed how for three consecutive seasons of successful players Serie-A team reduced their distances performed at submaximal speeds, and increased ball possession, while maintaining the high-intensity activities and the number of points at home. It is suggested that this is due to a better understanding of roles and tactics team organization, and to act collectively and individually on these parameters to reduce energy expenditure during the game to maintain a high level performance throughout the season.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Additionally, using tracking systems to monitor match demands has become a hot topic of research, referring to work rate, activity profile or match running performance [5,9,11,12]. Several studies quantified the match running performance across national professional leagues, such as the English [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21], Italian [3,22,23], Spanish [19,[24][25][26], French [20,27,28], German [29][30][31][32], Brazilian [33,34], Norwegian [35,36], Danish [37] and Australian leagues [38,39]. The literature also focused on the European Champions League [40][41][42][43][44], UEFA Cup/Europe League [41,44] and the World Cup [45][46][47]. ...
... CM and WM players covered significantly greater TD than other playing positions (strong effect). Previous studies also reported that midfielders covered longer distances in comparison to defenders and forwards [4,14,15,19,20,23,25,26,40,44]. The midfielder positions covered a 3% longer distance than forwards, and 7% longer than that achieved by the defenders [44]. ...
... Abbreviations: ACC-accelerations; AvS-average speed; CD-central defenders; CI-confidence intervals; CM-central midfielders; d-Cohen differences; DEC-decelerations; FB-fullbacks; FW-forwards; rHSR-relative high speed running; SPR-sprints; SWC-smallest worthwhile changes; TD-total distance; WM-wide midfielders.Entropy 2021,23, 973 ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of match location, quality of opposition and match outcome on match running performance according to playing position in a Portuguese professional football team. Twenty-three male professional football players were monitored from eighteen Portuguese Football League matches during the 2019-2020 season. Global positioning system technology (GPS) was used to collect time-motion data. The match running performance was obtained from five playing positions: central defenders (CD), fullbacks (FB), central midfielders (CM), wide midfielders (WM) and forwards (FW). Match running performance was analyzed within specific position and contextual factors using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) for repeated measures, standardized (Cohen) differences and smallest worthwhile change. CM and WM players covered significantly greater total distance (F = 15.45, p = 0.000, η 2 = 0.334) and average speed (F = 12.79, p < 0.001, η 2 = 0.294). WM and FB players covered higher distances at high-speed running (F = 16.93, p = 0.000, η 2 = 0.355) and sprinting (F = 13.49; p < 0.001, η 2 = 0.305). WM players covered the highest number of accelerations (F = 4.69, p < 0.001, η 2 = 0.132) and decelerations (F = 12.21, p < 0.001, η 2 = 0.284). The match running performance was influenced by match location (d = 0.06-2.04; CI: −0.42-2.31; SWC = 0.01-1.10), quality of opposition (d = 0.13-2.14; CI:-0.02-2.60; SWC = 0.01-1.55) and match outcome (d = 0.01-2.49; CI: −0.01-2.31; SWC = 0.01-0.35). Contextual factors influenced the match running performance with differential effects between playing positions. This study provides the first report about the contextual influence on match running performance in a Portuguese professional football team. Future research should also integrate tactical and technical key indicators when analyzing the match-related contextual influence on match running performance .
... Therefore, it is necessary to determine the best means and methods of strength training, then arrange them in such a way that they do not have a negative impact on sport performance during competition and practice. Previous research has shown that a high level of speed-strength preparedness is crucial when performing agility movements like sudden direction change, sprints, accelerations, and jumps during matches [10][11][12]. It is also known that strength training leads to a change in the properties of the neuromuscular apparatus, which could interfere with the effectiveness of the implementation of motor skills during execution of sport-specific movements [13][14][15]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this investigation was to assess the acute effects of partial range of motion (pROM) exercises, on the accuracy of soccer penalty kicks on goal. This method limits the joint from moving through the complete length of a motion, creates an occlusion effect, and thus causes the type 1 muscle fibers to work anaerobically. Thirty-six soccer players, with 5-8 years of soccer playing experience, were pretested for accuracy then retested ( rtt = 0.92 ) and divided into random groups from the Associação Banco do Brasil Futebol Clube—Group A, Paraná Futebol Clube—Group P, and Coritiba Futebol Clube—Group C. Groups were composed of 12 people performing full range of motion (fROM) exercises or pROM exercises. Both groups performed 5 sets of back squats at 50% of body weight in sets of 40 seconds with metronome tempo of 56 bpm for an average of 10-12 repetitions per 40-second set. Blood samples were collected post-warm-up, after the 3rd set, and following the 5th set for both groups, within 3–5 minutes of cessation of exercise. Athletes performing fROM exercises showed increased blood lactate from 2.69 ± 0.2 to 4.0 ± 1.2 mmol/L ( p < 0.05 ), and in pROM, blood lactate increased from 2.48 ± 0.42 to 10.29 ± 1.3 mmol/L ( p < 0.001 ). In fROM, accuracy decreased from 42.96 ± 13.39 % to 41.37 ± 17.25 % ( p > 0.1 ), a slight decrease, while in the pROM groups, accuracy decreased from 45.42 ± 14.93 % to 24.53 ± 10.2 % ( p < 0.001 ). The calculations demonstrating average percentages of accuracy are presented in the tables. These findings support that pROM exercises significantly increase blood lactate resulting in a reduction in soccer kick accuracy. This decrease in accuracy directly correlates to the accumulation of lactic acid and hydrogen ions (H+) and demonstrates that pROM strength training should not be utilized prior to a sport-specific session in order to avoid interference with the development of special skills.
... However, match running performance had a significant interaction with the ranking position as well. A previous study concluded that more successful teams may exert less physical effort in match play probably because of a greater technical ability or tactical awareness, which lead to greater ball possession [25]. In this regard, our study confirmed that higherranked teams covered significantly greater TD with ball possession than lower-ranked teams while lower-ranked teams covered significantly greater TD without ball possession [9,13,18]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background The aims of this study were to (1) determine the match technical and running performance required by different teams based on their final ranking position in a professional soccer league; and (2) analyze the correlation between teams’ success at the end of the season and variables related to match technical and running performance. Methods These performance data were collected during a total of 612 matches in the German Bundesliga. The final ranking position and the total of points obtained by each team at the end of the season were registered for the analysis of the correlation between team success and performance. Results The main findings were that there was a significant interaction ( p < 0.05) between the ranking position, and both match technical and running performance. However, goals scored, saved shots on goal by the goalkeeper, assists, allowed shots on goal, goals conceded, ball possession ratio and successful passes from open play were the variables with the strongest correlation ( r > 0.7; p ≤ 0.01) with the total of points obtained at the end of the season. Conclusions Strength and conditioning coaches may consider these results to develop adequate training strategies, which may not only optimize performance but also reduce the injury risk.
... Corroborating this finding, an analogous decreasing trend of match-related physical variables was observed in a successful Italy Serie A team over a period of three consecutive seasons, when the team maintained the same coaching staff, probably leading to gradually improving the playing organisation over consecutive seasons. 32 Nevertheless, those authors observed a decrease only for the slower speed distances (walking to high-intensity running), whereas they showed no significant changes across seasons regarding the very high-intensity running (>19 km/h). As in other countries, the RPL championship was suspended in February 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ...
Article
The technical and physical demands of elite soccer match-play may vary considerably across a season and from season-to-season in relation to a myriad of factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the technical and physical performance trends over five consecutive seasons (2016–2021) for twenty-two soccer players from a team participating in an elite European league, the Russian Premier League (RPL). Match data were recorded and analysed via an Optical Tracking System, and a selection of technical and physical performance variables were examined. From matches analysed, we observed small within-season changes (ES 0.17 to 0.37) for technical performance variables, and small to moderate changes (ES 0.31 to 0.86) for physical performance variables. Dribbles, percentage of successful dribbles, total distance covered, high-intensity and sprint distances, and maximal acceleration showed an average increase from the 2016–2017 to the 2018–2019 season, followed by a decrease in the subsequent seasons. Conversely, tackles, high-intensity accelerations and peak acceleration showed a decreasing trend from the 2016–2017 to the 2020–2021 season. Moderate to large correlations (r = −0.58 to 0.46) were apparent between changes in technical and physical variables. In summary, we observed between-season changes in match technical and physical variables in a RPL team, while there were no differences between the first and second phases of the season. The present findings may provide coaches with knowledge about long-term variations in technical and physical match performance, that can be practically useful to assess and interpret change in individual and team performance.
... Tracking data can also be used to gain insights into the activity profile of soccer. The activity profile is often expressed in total distance and distances in several speed zones, and has been extensively described in professional football over the last decades [15], including the highest domestic leagues of England [23,32,40,67,70], Spain [56,67,86], Germany [144], Italy [71,247,248] and France [66]. Comparisons between studies are difficult, because of the inconsistency in the definitions to demark different activity zones [60,77]. ...
... Significantly different values can be recorded for the different parameters even at a young age (Buchheit et al., 2010). Basic endurance, for which one of the parameters is Total Distance (TD), is a significant conditional factor and is between 9 and 12 km in a match of 90 minutes in the case of adults, according to the literature (Wehbe et al., 2014;Vigne et al., 2012;Di Salvo et al., 2007). The distances differ with respect to movement and intensity in the case of the different playing positions (Rienzi et al., 2000;Rampinini et al., 2007), which require a wide range of intensity, from low to maximum, during a match (Orendurff et al., 2010), depending on the game strategy (Tierney et al., 2016). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The monitoring of young soccer players’ training load using up-to-date devices is essential from the point of view of continuous improvement at high-quality soccer academies. In the present study, we used tests that are accepted and valid in soccer, which were performed frequently to find out more about improvement. Data measured in the U15–U19 age groups at the Illés Academy in Szombathely were analyzed during the research (N = 70). These data comprised (a) body parameters and performance trials: Body Mass, Height, Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test–level 1 (YYIR1), 30 m running, Functional Movement Screening (FMS), and Standing Long Jump (SLJ). (b) Locomotor parameters using the 6-week averages of Catapult OptimEye S5 standardized weekly reports of locomotor performance data (weeks 42–47, 2019): Total Time, Total Distance (m), Velocity Bands 4–6 Average Effort counts and distances, and Maximum Velocity. (c) Mechanical performance parameters: Total Player Load (TPL), high-intensity acceleration, high-intensity deceleration, Change of Direction (CoD) Left, High, CoD Right, High, and Explosive Effort (EE). The Illés Academy players did well in the motoric tests: YYIR1 (M = 2155, SD = 311), 30 m (M = 4.34, SD = 0.26), and SLJ (M = 2.28, SD = 0.18), and the different age groups underwent dynamic improvement. The young soccer players ran 19,552 m on average in their weekly training sessions (SD = 4562): players ran 568, 298, and 97 m in the moderate-, high-, and sprint-intensity zones (Velocity Band 4–5–6 Average Distance) (SD = 287, 148, and 67). The number of moderate-, high-, and sprint-intensity actions (Velocity Band 4–5–6 Average Effort Counts) was M = 58.32, 24.24, and 6.20 (SD = 24.41, 11.30, and 3.74). The athletes’ maximum speed was M = 26.72 km/h (SD = 1.74). The differences between the age groups were justified statistically in each case. Moderate or more intensive correlations were not found between the different intensity of running and the body parameters. High-intensity correlations were found between the completed total distance and the number of moderate-intensity actions (r = 0.806, p < .001), and high correlations were found between the moderate-intensity and high-intensity running (r = 0.933, p < .001).
... [6] Although many coaches have focused on training energy management in less dangerous situations during a match, some researchers have shown that improving energy conservation by significantly reducing distances at intermediate speeds does not help players to change the distances covered at high intensity, they have high, demanding values. [18] The physical effort specific to the football game is characterized by:  high mobility of the players on the field according to the tasks of the game, in relation to the requirements of the phase, the changes of places;  the occurrence during the specific effort of some often violent contacts with the ground, the ball and especially with the opponents;  aerobic and anaerobic capacity of very good effort, towards excellent;  very good explosive capacity, towards excellent. [12] Ideally, a professional football player should be able to maintain a high level of intensity throughout the entire game. ...
Article
Full-text available
We tested a group of 12 athletes, mini-football players, from Romania who regularly perform in the first league. The athletes were subjected to an evaluation that aimed to determine: height, body mass, movement speed, agility, explosive power, lactic anaerobic capacity and maximum oxygen consumption. The analysis of the results led to the identification of significant correlations between the speed of movement and agility (r2 =0.71), leg’s explosive power and reaction time of the nondominant leg (r2 =-0.61), lactic anaerobic capacity and body mass (r2 =0.60).This study highlights the links established between the physical parameters of the mini-football players from Romania.
Thesis
Full-text available
Le Footeval est un test intermittent avec ballon qui évalue les joueurs de football de manière globale, dont la validité et la reproductibilité ont été démontrées dans ce document. Nos travaux ont montré également que les déterminants de la performance au Footeval sont, à différents degrés, le potentiel aérobie à 33% (VO2max), la qualité pliométrique à 21%, la maîtrise technique du ballon du sujet à 9% d'un point de vue qualitatif et à 27% d'un point de vue quantitatif. Le Footeval affiche une sensibilité à l'entraînement en début de saison comme le Vam-Eval mais une différence apparaît sur le type de contenu. En effet le Footeval exprime une plus grande affinité aux entraînements basés sur le ballon comme les jeux réduits. Cette spécificité est encore plus prégnante puisque le Footeval discrimine parfaitement les joueurs de football en fonction de leur niveau de pratique en respectant la hiérarchie des championnats, et cela contrairement au Vam-Eval. L'un des facteurs responsables de la performance au Footeval, la vitesse avec ballon, nous a permis en partie d'expliquer ce constat. Par ce faisceau d'élément le Footeval apparaît comme un test spécifique à l'activité, un outil pertinent lors d'une journée de détection ou dans le cadre d'une validation de progrès en présaison suite à un entraînement exclusivement basé sur le ballon. Par ses caractéristiques, sa spécificité, sa sensibilité le Footeval s'inscrit pleinement dans l'orientation actuelle de l'entraînement à savoir une préparation physique intégrée
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the present study was to analyze men's football competitions, trying to identify which game-related statistics allow to discriminate winning, drawing and losing teams. The sample used corresponded to 380 games from the 2008-2009 season of the Spanish Men's Professional League. The game-related statistics gathered were: total shots, shots on goal, effectiveness, assists, crosses, offsides commited and received, corners, ball possession, crosses against, fouls committed and received, corners against, yellow and red cards, and venue. An univariate (t-test) and multivariate (discriminant) analysis of data was done. The results showed that winning teams had averages that were significantly higher for the following game statistics: total shots (p < 0.001), shots on goal (p < 0.01), effectiveness (p < 0.01), assists (p < 0.01), offsides committed (p < 0.01) and crosses against (p < 0.01). Losing teams had significantly higher averages in the variable crosses (p < 0.01), offsides received (p < 0. 01) and red cards (p < 0.01). Discriminant analysis allowed to conclude the following: the variables that discriminate between winning, drawing and losing teams were the total shots, shots on goal, crosses, crosses against, ball possession and venue. Coaches and players should be aware for these different profiles in order to increase knowledge about game cognitive and motor solicitation and, therefore, to evaluate specificity at the time of practice and game planning. Key pointsThis paper increases the knowledge about soccer match analysis.Give normative values to establish practice and match objectives.Give applications ideas to connect research with coaches' practice.
Article
Full-text available
In soccer, the ability to retain possession of the ball for prolonged periods of time has been suggested to be linked to success. The accuracy of this assertion was investigated by examining 380 matches involving Spanish League First Division teams during the 2008‐2009 season. Possession of the ball, according to the status of the match (winning, drawing and losing), was recorded during the different matches using a multiple‐camera match analysis system (Gecasport®). The results suggest that the best classified teams maintained a higher percentage of ball possession and that their pattern of play was more stable. The coefficient of variation, with respect to ball possession per match, was smaller for the best placed teams. Indeed, first placed F.C. Barcelona had the smallest coefficient of variation for possession time (8.4%), while bottom placed Recreativo showed the highest values with 17.1%. Linear regression analysis showed that possession strategies were influenced by situation variables. Team possession was greater when losing than when winning (p<0.01) or drawing (p<0.01), home teams enjoyed greater possession than visiting teams (p<0.01), and playing against strong opposition was associated with a reduction in time spent in possession (p<0.01). The findings indicate that strategies in soccer are influenced by situational variables and that teams alter their playing style accordingly during the match. Key words: match analysis; possession strategies; soccer; team performance; tactical component
Article
Full-text available
Background: The aim of this study was to analyze the physical and technical activities of elite soccer players from the French First League, according to their playing positions. Methods: During the 2005-2006 season, 3540 professional soccer players' activities were recorded and analysed during competitive matches played by means of a semi-automatic video system (Amisco ©). Physical and technical variables were analyzed according to their specific playing positions. The players were classified into 6 positional roles: central defenders (CD), full-backs (FB), central defensive midfielders (CDM), wide midfielders (WM), central attacking midfielders (CAM), and forwards (FW). Match performance variables analysed included: (a) physical activity: total distance covered, distances covered at high-intensities both with and without possession of the ball; (b) technical actions: heading and ground duels, passing, time in possession and ball touches. Results: The total distances covered ranged from 10425.9m to 12029.5m, with especially 235.4m to 290.4m in sprinting. In the offensive phase, FW covered ~4 times greater total distances in sprinting than CD and FB (p <0.001). The technical analysis showed that the players had the possession of the ball between 55.5sec and 74.2sec per match played and they had no more than 2.2 ball touches per individual possession. More specifically, midfielders (CDM, WM and CAM) performed successful passes ranging from 75% to 78%, whereas lower values were found for the FW (71%) and CD (63%) respectively. Conclusions: Soccer at the elite level requires that the players have a high aerobic capacity and that they are able to perform many high-intensity actions, especially the capacity for repeated sprints. Although these main findings showed the characteristics of French elite soccer, the players have to be skilful with their few ball possessions. In conclusion, elite soccer is characterized by the ability of the players to repeat high-intensity actions, but almost to be able to lose a small part of their ball possessions and to realize quickly the technical actions during the matches played.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to examine the effect of a succession of matches on the physical performance of elite soccer players. Forty-two players of a professional team from the Spanish Soccer League in the 2005-2006 season who played 2 full matches with 3 days in between matches 1 and 2 were monitored using a multiple-camera match analysis system. Differences on work-rate profiles of soccer players were analysed for the following variables: distance covered for all of the above activity profiles, frequency of high-intensity activities, recovery time, average speed, and top speed. Data were analyzed using a paired samples t-test. Overall, the activity profiles were not statistically influenced by the short recovery periods between matches. Difference between halves in the total distance covered was slightly greater during the first match compared to the second match (-84.4 +/- 354.0 v -41.3 +/- 318.8 m, respectively). Although a higher difference between halves was found in the distance covered by players at high intensity activities during the second match than in the first match (-34.0 +/- 193.1 v -14.3 +/- 208.2 m, respectively) this difference was not significant. There were no differences in the number of sprints and high speed runs performed by players across successive games. Difference between halves in the recovery time tended to be greater in the second match compared to the first match (13.0 +/- 58.9 v 28.4 +/- 87.4 s, respectively). However, this difference was not significant.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to compare match performance in professional soccer players across two major European championships: Spanish La Liga and English FA Premier League (FAPL). Data were collected using a computerized match analysis system. A total of 5938 analyses were recorded during the 2006–2007 season. The players were classified into six positional roles: central defenders, full backs, central defensive midfielders, wide midfielders, central attacking midfielders, and forwards. The match performance variables analysed included: (i) physical activity – total distance covered, distances covered at high-intensities both with and without possession of the ball; (ii) technical actions – heading and ground duels, passing, time in possession, and ball touches. Comparison of the total distance covered by FAPL and La Liga players showed no difference across individual playing positions but FAPL players generally covered greater distances in sprinting. In contrast, more of the total distance in sprinting was covered by La Liga players when their team was in possession (values from P < 0.05 to P < 0.001), while an equal total sprint distance, irrespective of possession, was observed in FAPL players. La Liga players won more heading duels (49.32% vs. 48.68%) and performed the same proportion of successful passes (76.17%). FAPL wide midfielders had ~20% more ball touches per possession than their La Liga counterparts (2.24±0.54 vs. 2.03±0.55, P < 0.001). In conclusion, our results show that FAPL and La Liga teams present differences in various physical and technical aspects of match-play, suggesting that cultural differences may exist across professional soccer leagues and playing positions.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to examine the effect of playing formation on high-intensity running and technical performance during elite soccer matches. Twenty English FA Premier League games were analysed using a multiple-camera computerized tracking system (n = 153 players). Overall ball possession did not differ (P < 0.05) between 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations (50%, s = 7 vs. 49%, s = 8 vs. 44%, s = 6). No differences were observed in high-intensity running between 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations. Compared with 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations, players in a 4-5-1 formation performed less very high-intensity running when their team was in possession (312 m, s = 196 vs. 433 m, s = 261 vs. 410 m, s = 270; P 5 0.05) but more when their team was not in possession (547 m, s = 217 vs. 461 m, s = 156 vs. 459 m, s = 169; P < 0.05). Attackers in a 4-3-3 performed ~30% more (P < 0.05) high-intensity running than attackers in 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations. However, the fraction of successful passes was highest in a 4-4-2 (P < 0.05) compared with 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations. The results suggest that playing formation does not influence the overall activity profiles of players, except for attackers, but impacts on very high-intensity running activity with and without ball possession and some technical elements of performance.
Article
Full-text available
It has been suggested that assessment of high-intensity activities during a match is a valid measure of physical performance in elite soccer. Recently, sprinting activities have been analysed in more depth. The aim of this study was to develop a detailed analysis of the sprinting activities of different playing positions during European Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions. Altogether, 717 elite outfield soccer players were evaluated throughout 2002-2006 using ProZone® (Leeds, UK). Sprinting (explosive and leading) was analysed for each playing position. To compare positional differences, a Kruskal-Wallis analysis was performed. Differences were found among positions for total number of sprints and total sprint distance covered: wide midfielders > (attackers = wide defenders) > central midfielders > central defenders (P < 0.001), as well as for explosive sprints: (wide midfielders = attackers = wide defenders) > central defenders, wide midfielders > central midfielders > central defenders and attackers = wide defenders = central midfielders (P < 0.001), and leading sprints: wide midfielders > (attackers = wide defenders) > central midfielders > central defenders (P < 0.001). For each group, there were no differences in ratio of explosive to leading sprints. Wide midfielders performed a higher number of sprints in all five distance categories than all other positions. This study showed that sprinting characteristics are influenced by position. Wide midfielders have to complete additional high-intensity activities during training sessions compared with the other positions to achieve the performance level required during the match.
Article
In soccer, the players perform intermittent work. Despite the players performing low-intensity activities for more than 70% of the game, heart rate and body temperature measurements suggest that the average oxygen uptake for elite soccer players is around 70% of maximum (VO2max). This may be partly explained by the 150-250 brief intense actions a top-class player performs during a game, which also indicates that the rates of creatine phosphate (CP) utilization and glycolysis are frequently high during a game. Muscle glycogen is probably the most important substrate for energy production, and fatigue towards the end of a game may be related to depletion of glycogen in some muscle fibres. Blood free-fatty acids (FFAs) increase progressively during a game, partly compensating for the progressive lowering of muscle glycogen. Fatigue also occurs temporarily during matches, but it is still unclear what causes the reduced ability to perform maximally. There are major individual differences in the physical demands of players during a game related to physical capacity and tactical role in the team. These differences should be taken into account when planning the training and nutritional strategies of top-class players, who require a significant energy intake during a week. © 2007 Ron Maughan for editorial material and selection. Individual chapters the contributors. All rights reserved.