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Football-specific fitness testing: adding value or confirming the evidence?

  • Qatar Football Association
  • Paris Saint Germain Football Club
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Journal of Sports Sciences
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Football-specific fitness testing: adding value or
confirming the evidence?
Alberto Mendez-Villanueva
& Martin Buchheit
ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence , Doha , Qatar
To cite this article: Alberto Mendez-Villanueva & Martin Buchheit (2013) Football-specific fitness testing: adding value or
confirming the evidence?, Journal of Sports Sciences, 31:13, 1503-1508, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2013.823231
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Football-specic tness testing: adding value or conrming the
ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar
(Accepted 22 June 2013)
Keywords: testing, football, performance
In the search for the ultimate competitive edge, in the
last years, professional football (soccer) clubs have sub-
stantially increased their budget allocation for sport
science personnel and support. Among others, the
assessment of players physical tness is a major part
of the sport science service. Physical tness testing is
typically conducted several times per year to evaluate
different physical qualities (e.g., aerobic tness, speed,
agility, and strength and power), which are to some
degree thought to be related to match play physical
performance. In the recent years, an increasing number
of so-called football-specic tness tests have been
gaining momentum and their use in professio nal foot-
ball has rapidly widespread. Typically, such football-
specic tness te sts are generally deemed specic as
long as they can show some sort of logical, construct
and/or other forms of validity (Impellizzeri & Marcora,
2009). Football-specic tests of speed (Rampinini
et al., 2007), aerobic tness (Bangsbo, Iaia, &
Krustrup, 2008), agility (Bullock, Panchuk, Broatch,
Christian, & Stepto, 2012; Sporis, Jukic, Milanovic, &
Vucetic, 2010) and dribbling ability (Huijgen, Elferink-
Gemser, Post, & Visscher, 2009) have bee n validated
and are no w implemented in ma ny football cl ubs and
academies worldwide. Despite their proposed scientic
robustness, perceived practicality and the increasing
popularity, whether these football-specic tness tests
can really bring new information to the team and indi-
vidual players can still be questioned.
As most sprints during a football game have been
shown to happen over distances inferior to 10 metres
(Di Salvo et al., 2010), 5- to 10-m sprints are consid-
ered as extr emely football-specic speed tests. That is,
there is no doubt that a 5-m sprint test has good logical
validity. As such, 5-m sprint times are considered as
highly relevant and useful for the coaching staff and
players. However, while it is nice to put an actual
number on a players acceleration capacity (i.e., 5-
m sprint test), does this assessment really translates into
new and meaningful information for the coaching staff
and players? First, with respect to the assessment of a
players locomotor prole, reality is that, in most cases,
coaches already know who the fast players are. Thus, in
most cases, a 5-m sprint test could just conrm some-
thing that was already evident for the coaching staff.
Accordingly, knowledge of a players 5-m sprint time is
actually unlikely to change how coaches perceive his/
her potential and playing skills. In contrast to other
sport s (e.g. , tr ack and eld), a lack of speed (or any
other tness quality) in football has always to be put
rst in relation to playing roles and tactical demands.
We believe that as long as a player is able to do his/her
job satisfactorily on the eld, all other (physical)
considerations are secondary (Delgado-Bordonau &
Mendez-Villanueva, 2012). Along these lines of think-
ing, the real problem for a player is not to be slow per se,
but no t to be a good football player because of a lack of
speed or acceleration. In this latter case, an under-
standing of the causes/factors responsible for the poor
5-m sprint time and, in turn, diminished potential foot-
ball ability, would be highly valuable to the coaches and
players, e.g., to potentially built up an individual
Correspondence: Alberto Mendez-Villanueva, Football Physiology Unit, Football Performance & Science Department, ASPIRE Academy of Sports
Excellence, P.O. Box 22287, Doha, Qatar. E-mail:
Journal of Sports Sciences, 2013
Vol. 31, No. 13, 15031508,
© 2013 Taylor & Francis
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traini ng intervention. Finally, since in reality, a foot-
ball-specic speed test (i.e., 5-m) might not be that
informative to coaches, scientists and players, the
potential interest of other running speed parameters
might need to be considered. We believe that, in addi-
tion to the 5-m sprint times, the assessment of maximal
sprinting speed (MSS) (Buchheit, Simpson, Peltola, &
Mendez-Villanueva, 2012) has clear applications and
might reveal hidden information to the coaching
staff. While this running speed is unlikely reached dur-
ing games (Mendez-Villanueva, Buchheit, Simpson,
Peltola, & Bourdon, 2011), it directly determines the
relative neuromuscular load/strain that players encoun-
ter during games and training session (Mendez-
Villanueva , Buchheit, Simpson, & Bourdo n, 2013).
This kind of information can be highly valuable when
programming individual training plans and exercise
intensities, monitoring training/competitive load and
for the management of injured players.
The present discussion can also be extended to the
aerobic tness assessment throughout football-specic
intermittent eld tests, such as the Yo-Yo tests (Bangsbo
et al., 2008).The outcome measure of these tests (i.e.,
total distance covered) has been shown to be related,
among others, to factors such as maximal oxygen uptake
(Bangsbo et al., 2008), metabolic control (Rampinini
et al., 2010), acidbase status (Rampinini et al., 2010),
explosive leg power (Castagna, Impellizzeri, Chamari,
Carlomagno, & Rampinini, 2006) and potentially to
acceleration capacity and the ability to change directio n.
That is, Yo-Yo performance is a compound quality
which depends on a myriad of physical tness factors.
As such, a given Yo-Yo performance can be achieved
while taxing the above-mentioned physiological deter-
minants at a fairly different extent (e.g., a player might
compensate his poor aerobic power by a great anaerobic
capacity to reach a similar Yo-Yo performance than a
player with an opposite physiological prole). In prac-
tice, with a Yo-Yo performance, what kind of specic
training recommendations can be given to the player
and coaching staff? Concluding that due to a poor Yo-
Yo test result, a player has to improve his/her ability to
repeat high-intensity exercise is actually very simplistic
and not informative at all. Analogously, this is similar to
say that a slow player has to improve his ability to run
faster. In addition , high-i ntensity intermittent exercise
performance has also to be seen in relation to its possible
impact 1) on match running performance, which is likely
position-dependent (Buchheit, Mendez-Villanueva,
Simpson, & Bourdon, 2010), and more importantly,
2) match play technical/tactical performance. Similar
to the above example on the 5-m sprint time, most likely
coaches would already know if a player has or not the
ability to perform (and repeat) high-intensity actions,
and whether this is actually problematic or not for his
technical/tactical game performance. Again, such a t-
ness assessment only conrms what was likely already
evident to most coaches. If poor playing performance
was actually to be linked to a poor ability to repeated
high-intensity exercise, how a test that quanties some-
thing which is already evident could help in identifying
the actual problem?
Another obvious limitation of these kind of tests, is
that their nal performance do not represent a clear
locomotor entity (Dupont et al., 2010), so that they
cannot be used for training prescription. We therefore
adhere to the assessment of a combination of isolated
physical capacities, including, among others, maximal
aerobic speed (MAS). While its assessment is every-
thing but specic (it involves continuous running
without changes of direction), MAS is the only eld-
based measure that reects a players maximal aerobic
power, integrated with his/her running economy (di
Prampero et al., 1986). In practice, MAS can be used
as a reference for programming high-intensity training
(Dupont, Akakpo, & Berthoin, 2004), and when it is
put in relation to either Yo-Yo or match running
performance, the relative physical strain of such exer-
cises ca n be estimated.
To conclude, while appealing, excessive reliance
on football-specic tness tests can easily end up
with sport scientists playing a limited role of evi-
dence providers, rather than substantially impacting
players and teams performances. We believe that
football sport scientists working in professional set-
tings should not (only) test to conrm evidences, but
also try to implement testing batteries aimed at
improving the proling of players physical and phy-
siological capacity, which, in turn, is more likely to
impact soccer-speci
c movement patterns and ulti-
mately, competitive performance.
Bangsbo, J., Iaia, F. M., & Krustrup, P. (2008). The Yo-Yo inter-
mittent recovery test: A useful tool for evaluation of physical
performance in intermittent sports. Sports Medicine, 38,3751.
Buchheit, M., Mendez-Villanueva, A., Simpson, B. M., &
Bourdon, P. C. (2010). Match running performance and t-
ness in youth soccer. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 31,
Buchheit, M., Simpson, B. M., Peltola, E., & Mendez-Villanueva,
A. (2012). Assessing maximal sprinting speed in highly trained
young soccer players. International Journal of Sports Physiology
and Performance, 7,7678.
Bullock, W., Panchuk, D., Broatch, J., Christian, R., & Stepto, N.
K. (2012). An integrative test of agility, speed and skill in
soccer: Effects of exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine in
Sport, 15, 431436.
Castagna, C., Impellizzeri, F. M., Chamari, K., Carlomagno, D., &
Rampinini, E. (2006). Aerobic tness and yo-yo continuous and
intermittent tests performances in soccer players: A correlation
study. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20,320325.
Delgado-Bordonau, J., & Mendez-Villanueva, A. (2012). Tactical
periodization: Mourinhos best-kept secret? Soccer NSCAA
Journal, 3,2834.
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di Prampero, P. E., Atchou, G., Bruckner, J. C., & Moia, C.
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Dupont, G., Defontaine, M., Bosquet, L., Blondel, N., Moalla,
W., & Berthoin, S. (2010). Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test
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Bourdon, P. (2011). Does on-eld sprinting performance in
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Counter-point number 1: football-specic testing: adding value or
conrming the evidence?
Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
The article by Mendez-Villanueva and Buchheit
provides an interesting prac tical critique of the
use of tness testing within football. Practitioners
who has worked practically within e lite sport will
recognise the efcacy of their comments as a con-
siderable proportion of sport science (not just
the tness testing) does not seem to clearly and
objectively impact the performance of the athletes.
Such observations are not, however, purely asso-
ciated with the philosophy of practice of any spe-
cic sport scientist. They are, in reality, a direct
response to a variety of factors (e.g., the environ-
ment and the culture of the organisation, the
approach of the coach and players, etc.) that inu-
ence the way that any sport science support pro-
gramme is planned and implemented. As such, any
approach to sport science support, such as the
strategy for tness testing, need to be viewed in
the context of the specicpurposeoftheactivity.
That is to say that testing programmes may be
inuential even if they do not act as anything
more than evidence providers for coaches if the
data collected fulls the requirements of the sup-
port programme.
Mendez-Villanueva and Buchheitscritiqueofthe
relationships between football-specictestsandthe
ability of the data to directly inform training pro-
grammes and/or performance potential seems much
more important. While the research related to the
development of specic tests has clearly increased
over the last decade it would seem that the insight
associated with data that these tests provide is still
fundamentally limited. Some of the responsibility for
this situation should be targeted at individual research-
ers as it is a consequence of their design decisions
about the specic research projects that are available
in the area. A more comprehensive explanation prob-
ably relates to the fundamental theoretical and practi-
cal restraints associated with meaningfully analysing
football performance and its components. Such bar-
riers to knowledge are becoming limited as the prac-
tical and methodological barriers to data collection
and analysis are removed. This may result in the
development of a more suitable evidence base upon
which to devise and operationalise testing programmes
that have meaning for a players and teams perfor-
mance as suggested by Mendez-Villanueva and
Buchheit in their concluding comments.
Point-counter-point 1505
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Counter-point number 2: football-specic testing: adding value or
conrming the evidence?
Exercise Physiology and Biochemistry, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
This short paper eloquently expresses the view that
contemporary tness testing by sports scientists and
tness and conditioning coaches in elite team sports
may prima rily be conrming evidence of the phys ical
capacities of players (of which the coach is already
largely aware) rather than discovering or exploring
ways to value add to the players and team. The
paper raises the point that perhaps conventional
team sport specic tness tests like the Yo-Yo and
520 m sprint tests, while useful and valid and reli-
able, may not necessarily give much new or addi-
tional information, which might have more specic
uses in the areas of injury rehabilitation and indivi-
dual training prescription. They therefore argue that
further tests such as the maximal sprinting speed
(MSS) and maximal aerobic speed (MAS), which
are not team sport, but capacity specic tests, should
also be performed.
While their arguments are sound and logical, it
can also be argued that the sport scientists and
tness coaches working in elite team sport have suf-
cient knowledge and understanding of performance
(in the global sense) to appreciate that (in particular)
technical and tactical factors have just as much (but
probably more) to say about individual player and
team performance. Rather than spending great
amounts of time in analysing the relationships
between physical capacity test scores and perfor-
mance and inven ting more specic tness tests to
use, perhaps the time could be better spent on devel-
oping more specic skill and decision making drills
to make the pla yers and team better, and any inves-
tigation of the relationship between tness and per-
formance should be expanded to include technical
and tactical measures, in a multi-factorial analysis.
Being t to play is vital, but coaches understand very
well that usually technical/tactical differences
between players and teams underscore the result.
At the elite level, there may not be much margin
left in tness to exploit.
Counter-point number 3: football-specic testing: adding value or
conrming the evidence?
Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Sunderland, UK and
Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life
and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
As discussed by Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit
(2013), modern applied scientists in football typi-
cally incorporate a testing battery at selected stages
of the season to evaluate physical performance and
to individualise and adjust training programmes.
Most if not all approa ch this with the assumption
that the testing modality should be football-speci-
c and demonstrate both experimental evidence
(reproducibility, validity and sensitivity) and
practical application (Cur rell & Jeukendrup, 2008;
Stølen, Chamari, Castagna, & Wisloff, 2005;
Svensson & Drust, 2005). The authors have pro-
vided convincing arguments, but the reader is ulti-
mately presented with an easy dilemma: to place
emphasis on football-specic tests that are accom-
panied by not only logic and strong experimental
evidence but unproven concerns regarding applica-
tion or non-specic tests that provide questionable
E-mails:; pkrustrup@i
1506 A. Mendez-Villanueva & M. Buchheit
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hidden information. There are obviously caveats
associated with each, but we advocate the use of
football-specic tests that have undergone scienti-
c rigour and critiquing by applied scientists. The
authors point out, quite rightly, that providing coa-
ches/players with quality feedback is imperative in
the applied setting, particularly if the goal is to not
only enhance physical performance but also global
football ability. Although the intended rec ipients
(coaches/players) may receive new information
using the authors approach (benecial or not
remains to be seen), they would certainly question
the context it was obtained particularly if the mod-
ality lacks football-specicity, which could nullify
its impact (no condence in feedback).
Regarding football-specic sprint testing
applied scientists usually use repeated 2030 m
tests that incorporate numerous split times that
include the determination of both acceleration,
maximal sprint paramete rs and fatigue resistance
for relative usage (Harley et a l., 20 10) rathe r than
the reductionist perspective of single 510 m tests
presented in the article, so we are unsure what
additional insight this provides to the reader.
Notably, the authors advocate the use of the max-
imal aerobic speed (MAS) test (continuous test
without directional changes) for football over and
above the Yo-Yo t ests (i ntermit tent test wit h di rec-
tional changes). This is based on the assertion that
the Yo-Yo test fails to demarcate between aerobic
and anaerobic tness parameters, despite the suc-
cessful use of sub-maximal (aerobic) and maximal
versions of the Yo-Yo test (aerobic/anaerobic) in
addition to the user been provided with the option
of using two levels of the test that tax the aerobic
and anaerobic systems to different extents as eval-
uated by muscle and blood metabolite analyses
(Bangsbo, Iaia, & Krustrup, 2008; Bradley et al.,
2012; Krustrup et al., 2003, 2006). Thus, MAS
testing seems to be one step forward compared to
simple V
max testing as it incorporates the run-
ning economy (for continuous moderate to high
speed linear running with running shoes) but it
still appears to be one or two steps backwards in
time and relevance for the football community.
Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit (2013) also criticise
the practic al recommendations that can be given to
players/coaching staff after the test but from the
literature above, it is clear that feedback can be
provided regarding the type of training needed,
with the specicity reported for effects of aerobic
high-intensity training, anaerobic speed endurance
training and sprint training (e.g., Mohr et al.,
2007), t o optimise physical performance in football
given similarities between the intermittent nature of
the test and the sport. Ultimately, the quality of the
feedback pre sented to coaches/players when
employing football-specic batteriesisalsohighly
dependent upon the skill and the c raft of the
applied scientist as opposed t o s imply using non-
specic testing modalities to add something new
but not necessarily better into the system.
Although this debate is in sightful, it does not
answer the key question of whether testing modal-
ities for football need to be able to evaluate and be
prescriptive regardless of their validity to s imply add
Bangsbo, J., Iaia, F. M., & Krustrup, P. (2008). The YoYo
intermittent recovery test: A useful tool for evaluation of phy-
sical performance in intermittent sports. Sports Medicine, 38,
Bradley, P. S., Bendiksen, M., Dellal, A., Mohr, M., Wilkie, A.,
Datson, N., ... Krustrup, P. (2012). The application of the Yo-
Yo intermittent endurance level 2 test to elite female soccer
populations. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in
Sports. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2012.01483.x. [Epub ahead
of print]
Currell, K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2008). Validity, reliability and
sensitivity of measures of sporting performance. Sports
Medicine, 38, 297316.
Harley, J. A., Barnes, C. A., Portas, M., Lovell, R., Barrett, S.,
Paul, D., & Weston, M. (2010). Motion analysis of match-play
in elite U12 to U16 age-group soccer players. Journal of Sports
Science, 28, 13911397.
Krustrup, P., Mohr, M., Amstrup, T., Rysgaard, T., Johansen, J.,
Steensberg, A., & Bangsbo, J. (2003). The Yo-Yo intermittent
recovery test: Physiological response, reliability, and validity.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35, 697705.
Krustrup, P., Mohr, M., Nybo, L., Jensen, J. M., Nielsen, J. J., &
Bangsbo, J. (2006). The Yo-Yo IR2 test: Physiological
response, reliability and application to elite soccer. Medicine
& Science in Sports & Exercise, 38, 16661673.
Mendez-Villanueva, A., & Buchheit, M. (2013). Football-specic
testing: Adding value or conrming the evidence? Journal of
Sports Sciences. doi:10.1080/02640414.2013.823231.
Mohr, M., Krustrup, P., Nielsen, J. J., Nybo, L., Rasmussen, M.
K., Juel, C., & Bangsbo, J. (2007). Effect of two different
intense training regimens on skeletal muscle ion transport pro-
teins and fatigue development. American Journal of Physiology
Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 292, R1594
Stølen, T., Chamari, K., Castagna, C., & Wisloff, U. (2005).
Physiology of soccer: An update. Sports Medicine, 35, 501536.
Svensson, M., & Drust, B. (2005). Testing soccer players. Journal
of Sports Science, 23, 601618.
Point-counter-point 1507
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Counter-point number 4: football-specic testing: adding value or
conrming the evidence?
Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
I agree with the authors that tness testing in football
should go beyond simply providing or conrming
evidence. Testing should additionally support the
individual player to optimise tness and, in conse-
quence, to improve competitive performance. A
good physical shape of the team may increase the
tactical opportunities of the coach. There is one
point I would like to comment on. The authors state
that sprints over short distances are extremely football-
specic tests. In my view, 5-m sprint tests are appro-
priate to assess acceleration (a general physical ability)
which is relevant in many different sports, including
football. I wonder, whether a clear differentiation is
possible for most tests. The authors state that coaches
in most cases know the fast players in their team.
Thus, 5-m sprint times do not necessarily provide
meaningful information. Similarly, coaches may
know the strongest, most powerful or best endurance
athletes in their team. Therefore, this statement argues
against tness testing at all (independent of tests being
footb all-specic or more general). To my experience,
there is always danger that coaches fail with their sub-
jective judgement due to intra-individual variations in
physical shape. Moreover, tness testing is not only an
essential component of sport science service in profes-
sional teams but also in football academies, i.e., in
talent development. In this setting, there is a greater
uctuation of players and not all players are well-
known. The main aim of tness testing should be the
long-term assessment of players to detect tness de-
cits and developments and to initiate individual train-
ing programs. Thus, tness testing should be
standardised, objective and (if possible) independent
of the current coach of a team. To my opinion, to date
there is not enough scienticevidencetodenitely
decide what is preferable: testing general physical abil-
ities or using football-specictestsoracombinationof
1508 A. Mendez-Villanueva & M. Buchheit
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... Fitness testing can be considered as a basic professional activity for sport scientists and strength and conditioning coaches [1,2]. It can be conducted for a variety of reasons including assessment of physiological capacities [1,3], talent identification and selection [4], training and performance monitoring [5], evaluation of training program effectiveness [1,6] and training prescription [7]. Due to these multipurpose requirements, one fitness test can hardly be used as an ideal tool able to provide useful information for all aspects of fitness testing. ...
... This makes them appropriate for specific-fitness assessment, but rather poor in assessment of basic fitness capacities (e.g., the maximal oxygen uptake (VO 2max )) [8]. Similarly, some tests present with limited practical validity and can, therefore, hardly be used to accurately prescribe exercise which is probably the most important part of strength and conditioning coaches' job [3]. ...
... Probably the most important reason for fitness testing is the assessment of physical capacities and abilities [1,3]. Despite recent scientific evidence related to its association with soccer match performance, when it comes to aerobic or cardiorespiratory fitness, many strength and conditioning coaches focus on VO 2max . ...
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A desire to make fitness testing cheaper and easier to conduct in a team-sport setting has led to the development of numerous field aerobic fitness tests. This has contributed to a growing confusion among strength and conditioning coaches about which one to use. The main aim of this narrative review was to examine the reliability, validity, sensitivity and usefulness of the commonly used field aerobic fitness tests and to provide practical guidelines for their use in soccer. The University of Montreal track test (UMTT) and Vam Eval test seem the best options for estimation of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) while the highest signal-to-noise ratio of the 30-15 intermittent fitness test (30-15IFT) suggests its superior sensitivity to track changes in fitness. The UMTT and 30-15IFT are the best solutions for prescription of long and short high-intensity interval training sessions, respectively. All field tests mostly present with marginal usefulness, but the smallest worthwhile change for UMTT or Vam Eval test, Yo-YoIRT2 and 30-15IFT are smaller than their stage increment making the improvement of only one stage in the test performance already worthwhile. Strength and conditioning coaches are advised to choose the test based on their specific purpose of testing.
... 25 In addition, once a player has suffered an injury their risk of sustaining it again in the future (re-injury) is increased. 1,13 Indeed, the increased risk related to previous injury is not limited to a recurrence of the index injury but a range of subsequent injury types and locations. 15,27 Furthermore, the effects of sports injury are not limited to physical implications. ...
... The use of fitness assessments to profile and categorize athletes' physical capabilities is commonplace and is a central aspect of many applied practitioners' jobs [1]. The data collected from traditional fitness tests are typically objective in nature i.e. can be measured in units such as seconds, centimeters or grams. ...
... The proliferation of movement screening research and its widespread use in professional soccer reveals a belief among practitioners and researchers alike that movement quality may have an association with injury risk. 1 Numerous screens exist; however, the supporting evidence with regard to both their reliability and association with injury varies widely in both volume and methodological quality. 1 The majority of such research has focused on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™), which has demonstrated good reliability but conflicting relationships with injury likelihood. 1,6 The FMS™ was designed as a 'general' movement assessment tool and has been used within a wide range of sports and professional domains including the military and emergency services. ...
... In order to prepare players to perform in elite AF, fitness staff prescribe training, monitor the loads incurred, and the athletes' responses to it (Drew & Finch, 2016). Accordingly, fitness tests may be used to determine individual athletic qualities, inform training prescription and establish individualized velocity thresholds for load management (Malone et al., 2016;Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit, 2013). Laboratory-based fitness tests are considered gold-standard for these purposes (Gore, 2000), but are resource-intensive (e.g., cost, expertise, equipment, time) and not practical considering the large squad numbers in elite AF (i.e., 40-50 players) (Bellenger, 2015). ...
... Such assessments may be useful in determining athletic strengths/weaknesses or evaluating the effectiveness of training programmes. However, sport-specificor performance-based tests may not represent discreet locomotor profiles (i.e., maximal aerobic and peak velocities (Dupont et al., 2010)); hence, they often cannot be used for subsequent training prescription (Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit, 2013). ...
... Periodizing training prescription and load management on an individual basis are primary roles of sports scientists and high-performance managers in elite sport and are considered important to team success (Colby et al., 2014;Cross et al., 2016;Drew & Finch, 2016). In order to effectively manage athletic development, accurate assessment of locomotor qualities (i.e., aerobic fitness and peak velocity) (Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit, 2013) is necessary to inform load prescription and evaluation. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to evaluate pragmatic and surrogate measures to determine locomotor qualities within an elite AF programme. ...
The study examined the utility of surrogate measures of athletic performance to determine locomotor qualities (maximal aerobic velocity and peak velocity) in elite Australian Football (AF). 29 professional AF players undertook aerobic fitness (3km time-trial [TT] and 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test [30-15 IFT]) and peak velocity (PV; 50 m maximal sprints using 10Hz GPS) assessments in pre-season. Characteristics of TT performance (mean velocity, 500m and 1km splits) were compared with a surrogate for maximal aerobic velocity (MAV; 80% of 30-15 IFT final velocity). PVs derived from sprint tests were compared to those attained in AF matches (10 Hz GPS). Higher Pearson correlations were observed between MAV versus the fastest 500m (r = 0.74) and 1km (r = 0.75) of the 3km TT, but they were not superior to mean velocity (r = 0.72; p ≥ 0.30) which also demonstrated the lowest bias (p ≤ 0.01) and equivalent typical errors (0.16-0.17 m.s-1). Peak velocity was higher across match observations (0.28, CI: ± 0.17 m.s -1, p = 0.017) versus sprint tests. There was no impact of playing position on the determination of locomotor qualities using surrogate measures of locomotor qualities. Locomotor qualities can be determined practically using 10Hz GPS devices during 3km time-trials and competitive matches (assuming appropriate signal quality), without additional fitness assessments.
... Yet considering the lack of available research on this topic, it appears the assessment of horizontal deceleration capabilities is much less prevalent in applied team sport settings. This may logically point towards the specificity and validity of sports-specific tests [100], which aim to replicate the manoeuvres commonly performed in the sport to inform training interventions and improve sports-specific fitness [101]. It is argued, however, that capacity-specific tests still add value to athletic assessment batteries for their ability to isolate underlying physical capabilities of athletes [101], and deceleration may be considered a key underpinning quality within a team sport athlete's multidirectional speed profile [6,15,16]. ...
... This may logically point towards the specificity and validity of sports-specific tests [100], which aim to replicate the manoeuvres commonly performed in the sport to inform training interventions and improve sports-specific fitness [101]. It is argued, however, that capacity-specific tests still add value to athletic assessment batteries for their ability to isolate underlying physical capabilities of athletes [101], and deceleration may be considered a key underpinning quality within a team sport athlete's multidirectional speed profile [6,15,16]. With respect to horizontal deceleration ability, previous assessment methods have utilised high-speed cameras [102,103], laser or radar technology [104][105][106], or satellite tracking systems [107]. ...
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High-intensity horizontal decelerations occur frequently in team sports and are typically performed to facilitate a reduction in momentum preceding a change of direction manoeuvre or following a sprinting action. The mechanical underpinnings of horizontal deceleration are unique compared to other high-intensity locomotive patterns (e.g., acceleration, maximal sprinting speed), and are characterised by a ground reaction force profile of high impact peaks and loading rates. The high mechanical loading conditions observed when performing rapid horizontal decelerations can lead to tissue damage and neuromuscular fatigue, which may diminish co-ordinative proficiency and an individual’s ability to skilfully dissipate braking loads. Furthermore, repetitive long-term deceleration loading cycles if not managed appropriately may propagate damage accumulation and offer an explanation for chronic aetiological consequences of the ‘mechanical fatigue failure’ phenomenon. Training strategies should look to enhance an athlete’s ability to skilfully dissipate braking loads, develop mechanically robust musculoskeletal structures, and ensure frequent high-intensity horizontal deceleration exposure in order to accustom individuals to the potentially damaging effects of intense decelerations that athletes will frequently perform in competition. Given the apparent importance of horizontal decelerations, in this Current Opinion article we provide considerations for sport science and medicine practitioners around the assessment, training and monitoring of horizontal deceleration. We feel these considerations could lead to new developments in injury-mitigation and physical development strategies in team sports.
... El personal profesional encargado de la ciencias del deporte en los clubes profesionales de fútbol tiene, como objetivo, aplicar evaluaciones de la condición física a sus deportistas durante toda la temporada, para que los resultados permitan monitorear el rendimiento deportivo (Mendez-Villanueva & Buchheit, 2013), como también garantizar la optimización deportiva a corto, mediano y largo plazo, con el propósito de un mayor control y de medir el progreso de los deportistas según la etapa de la temporada (Sanabria, Poveda, Ureña, Vargas & Solano, 2017). Además, busca perfeccionar las baterías de test físicos, acción muy importante que permite el correcto desarrollo de las capacidades físicas fundamentales orientadas hacia el fútbol, como la fuerza y la potencia muscular (Paul & Nassis, 2015), la resistencia aeróbica y anaeróbica (Bujnovsky, Maly, Ford, Sugimoto, Kunzmann, Hank & Zahalka, 2019), y la identificación de la composición corporal como variable determinante para la optimización del rendimiento deportivo (Leão, Camões, Clemente, Nikolaidis, Lima, Bezerra, & Knechtle, 2019). ...
... En general, existe una gran variedad de características biológicas y comportamentales que se consideran esenciales para el éxito del fútbol (Bennett, 2019), por ejemplo, las mediciones antropométricas permiten identificar y clasificar la estructura física de futbolistas, considerando su posición de juego (Haugen & Seiler, 2015); esto refleja la necesidad de individualizar las evaluaciones (Kulkarni, Levin, Penailillo, Singh & Singh, 2013), y que estas presenten una utilidad para el desarrollo del deporte específico (Mendez-Villanueva, & Buchheit, 2013). ...
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bjetivo: analizar el perfil morfofuncional de futbolistas profesionales chilenos según su posición de juego. Método: el diseño del estudio fue no experimental, con un alcance descriptivo-correlacional. Se evaluaron 29 futbolistas profesionales de la primera B. Para determinar el porcentaje graso se midieron cuatro pliegues cutáneos y se aplicó la ecuación de Durnin y Womersley; para las variables físicas se aplicó el test de 1 repetición máxima de sentadillas y se utilizó el método de Brzycki para proyectar la fuerza máxima; en fuerza explosiva se ejecutó el Test de Bosco que evalúa el salto Squat Jump (SJ); para la resistencia aeróbica se utilizó el Yoyo test nivel 1 de recuperación, con toma de frecuencia cardiaca (FC) al final y en recuperación (1 minuto). Resultados: se observan solo diferencias significativas en la talla entre arqueros y volantes (.=4.491; .=0.012), esto implica, que la edad, peso y Σ4 pliegues no inciden en la posición de juego. Conclusiones: se observa que, en cada posición de juego, los jugadores presentan una configuración morfofuncional distinta, lo cual permite inferir que el trabajo debe ser diferenciado
... Therefore, physical training programmes informed by the science of match analysis would appear logical. While physical considerations will always be secondary to the ability to fulfill a technical role on the field of play, inadequate physical preparation could limit technical functioning during a match (Mendez-Villanueva and Buchheit 2013). With this in mind, training programmes with an emphasis on high-intensity running -the key physical performance indicator are beneficial for the fitness of soccer referees Weston et al. 2012). ...
... In the literature, parameters such as peak sprint speed (PSS) and maximal aerobic speed (MAS; the minimum speed at which maximum oxygen uptake is obtained), which form locomotor profiles in soccer and are associated with aerobic and anaerobic performance characteristics, are frequently used to predict high-intensity exercise profiles (both continuous and intermittent) and repetitive sprint performance of the players [11,12]. The MAS reflects a player's maximum aerobic power integrated with running economy. ...
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Abstract Purpose This study aimed to (1) analyze the impact of a small-sided game training program in the locomotor profile of youth male soccer players (while interacting with the baseline level – higher and lower level); and (2) test the relationships between variation in locomotor profile and the accumulated demands in 3v3, 5v5 and match over the period of observation. Methods The cohort lasted 3-weeks. Twenty under-17 male amateur soccer players (16.8 ± 0.41 years; experience: 6.35 ± 0.67 years) were assessed twice for their final velocity at 30−15 intermittent fitness test (VIFT), peak speed at 30-m sprint test (PSS) and anaerobic speed reserve (ASR). The PSS was estimated using a Global Positioning System, while the VIFT was estimated using the maximum level attained by the players during the test. Based on the baseline levels, the scores were standardized using the Z-score. The total score of athleticism (TSA) was calculated per player to organize the players into two groups: lower TSA and higher TSA. Over the three weeks of observation, the small-sided games of 3v3 and 5v5 and match demands were monitored using polar team pro. The heart rate responses (mean and peak), distance covered (overall and split by speed thresholds), and peak speed in these games were obtained and summed over the weeks. The repeated measures ANCOVA tested the variations (time) of the locomotor profile of players while considering the baseline as covariable and the group as a factor. The Pearson-product correlation test analyzed the relationships between variations in locomotor profile (Δ, post-baseline) and the accumulated demands in 3v3, 5v5, and match. Results Between-groups analysis (lower TSA vs. higher TSA) revealed no significant differences on VIFT (p = 0.915), PSS (p = 0.269), ASR (p = 0.258) and TSA score (p = 0.138). Within-group (baseline vs. post-observation) analysis revealed significant difference on VIFT (p
As utilizações de sistemas tecnológicos têm vindo a possibilitar um aumento da compreensão sobre os parâmetros de carga externa (demandas físicas) associadas ao jogo de futebol (PALUCCI VIEIRA et al., 2019b; SAR MENTO et al., 2018). A possibilidade de observar, descrever, caracterizar e inferir tendo por base os padrões de corrida e ação realizadas pelos futebolistas, possibilita, não apenas um entendimento sobre as exigências do jogo (por exemplo, totais, médias e picos de demandas físicas em casos possíveis) (WASS et al., 2020) e sua variação de contexto para contexto (CASTELLANO et al., 2011; OLIVA-LOZANO et al., 2020; PAUL et al., 2015), e atleta para atleta (AQUINO; VIEIRA et al., 2017; OLIVA-LOZANO et al., 2020), como também, as implicações para o ajustamento e individualização do treinamento esportivo (CLEMENTE et al., 2019a; OWEN et al., 2017). O presente capítulo procurará dar uma visão global ao leitor de como a análise do desempenho de corrida poderá ser um fator determinante na adequação do planejamento do treinamento de futebol. Na primeira seção, será abordado o processo de evolução dos sistemas de análise do desempenho de corrida. Na sequência, serão caracterizadas as demandas de corridas durante as partidas de futebol de jovens futebolistas e de profissionais, considerando os sexos feminino e masculino. Na terceira seção, mostraremos as relações entre as demandas durante a partida e a aptidão atlética, considerando as suas implicações para a avaliação. Na quarta seção, procurar-se-á analisar o erro dos distintos sistemas de aquisição de dados posicionais e como se pode garantir a acurácia e precisão das medidas. Na quinta seção, demonstrar-se-ão exemplos de como o conhecimento das demandas de corrida durante a partida poderão modelar o treinamento, considerando principalmente diversos fatores contextuais. Finalmente na sexta e última seção deste capítulo, apresentar-se-ão considerações finais, sintetizando as principais contribuições sobre o tema.
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The current issue is the third of the sixth volume of the Athens Journal of Sports, published by the Sports Unit of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) under the auspices of the Panhellenic Association of Sports Economists and Managers (PASEM).
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TacTical PeriodizaTion: a new soccer Training aPProach " We can differentiate among traditional analytical training where the different factors are trained in isolation, the integrated training, which uses the ball but where the fundamental concerns are not very different from the traditional one; and there is my way of training, which is called Tactical Periodization. It has nothing to do with the previous two even though many people could think so.
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The purpose of this study was to quantify match play intensity distribution in young soccer players in relation to age, playing position and physical fitness. Distance covered and heart rate were measured (global positioning system) on 103, highly-trained young players (Under13 to Under 18) during 42 international club games. Maximal sprinting speed (MSS), estimated maximal aerobic speed (MAS) and maximal heart rate (HRmax) were assessed via field test measures. Distance covered and heart rate (HR) were categorized into 5 intensity zones relative to MSS and MAS and HRmax, respectively. Intensity distribution was significantly influenced by both age and playing position with younger groups, wide-midfielders and strikers covering the greatest distance above the MAS. There was a significant, negative, large-to-very large correlation (r= - 0.52-0.74) between MAS and the distance run at speeds above MAS for all positions except strikers. HR responses were not different across age groups and playing positions. Distance covered below MAS were lower in the second half for all positions (P<0.05; 0.08<η2<0.20), while distance covered at intensities above MAS were maintained (P>0.1; 0.00<η2<0.03). This reduction in distance covered below MAS was not related to a player's physical capacity. Except for strikers, a superior aerobic fitness level was unlikely to affect total distance covered but was associated with a reduced individual running demand during the game.
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The aim of the present study was to locate the fastest 10-m split time (Splitbest) over a 40-m sprint in relation to age and maximal sprint speed in highly trained young soccer players. Analyses were performed on 967 independent player sprints collected in 223 highly trained young football players (Under 12 to Under 18). The maximal sprint speed was defined as the average running speed during Splitbest. The distribution of the distance associated with Splitbest was affected by age (X23 = 158.7, P < .001), with the older the players, the greater the proportion of 30-to-40-m Splitbest. There was, however, no between-group difference when data were adjusted for maximal sprint speed. Maximal sprint speed is the main determinant of the distance associated with Splitbest. Given the important disparity in Splitbest location within each age group, three (U12-U13) to two (U14-U18) 10-m intervals are still required to guarantee an accurate evaluation of maximal sprint speed in young players when using timing gates.
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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.
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The aim of this study was to quantify the motion demands of match-play in elite U12 to U16 age-group soccer players. Altogether, 112 players from two professional soccer clubs at five age-group levels (U12-U16) were monitored during competitive matches (n = 14) using a 5 Hz non-differential global positioning system (NdGPS). Velocity thresholds were normalized for each age-group using the mean squad times for a flying 10 m sprint test as a reference point. Match performance was reported as total distance, high-intensity distance, very high-intensity distance, and sprint distance. Data were reported both in absolute (m) and relative (m · min(-1)) terms due to a rolling substitute policy. The U15 (1.35 ± 0.09 s) and U16 (1.31 ± 0.06 s) players were significantly quicker than the U12 (1.58 ± 0.10 s), U13 (1.52 ± 0.07 s), and U14 (1.51 ± 0.08 s) players in the flying 10 m sprint test (P < 0.001). The U16 age-group covered significantly more absolute total distance (U16 > U12, U13, U14), high-intensity distance (U16 > U12, U13, U14, U15), very high-intensity distance (U16 > U12, U13), and sprint distance (U16 > U12, U13) than their younger counterparts (P < 0.05). When the data are considered relative to match exposure, few differences are apparent. Training prescription for youth soccer players should consider the specific demands of competitive match-play in each age-group.
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The activity profiles of highly trained young soccer players were examined in relation to age, playing position and physical capacity. Time-motion analyses (global positioning system) were performed on 77 (U13-U18; fullbacks [FB], centre-backs [CB], midfielders [MD], wide midfielders [W], second strikers [2 (nd)S] and strikers [S]) during 42 international club games. Total distance covered (TD) and very high-intensity activities (VHIA; >16.1 km·h (-1)) were computed during 186 entire player-matches. Physical capacity was assessed via field test measures (e. g., peak running speed during an incremental field test, VVam-eval). Match running performance showed an increasing trend with age ( P<0.001, partial eta-squared (η (2)): 0.20-0.45). When adjusted for age and individual playing time, match running performance was position-dependent ( P<0.001, η (2): 0.13-0.40). MD covered the greater TD; CB the lowest ( P<0.05). Distance for VHIA was lower for CB compared with all other positions ( P<0.05); W and S displayed the highest VHIA ( P<0.05). Relationships between match running performance and physical capacities were position-dependent, with poor or non-significant correlations within FB, CB, MD and W (e. g., VHIA vs. VVam-eval: R=0.06 in FB) but large associations within 2 (nd)S and S positions (e. g., VHIA vs. VVam-eval: R=0.70 in 2 (nd)S). In highly trained young soccer players, the importance of fitness level as a determinant of match running performance should be regarded as a function of playing position.
The two Yo-Yo intermittent recovery (IR) tests evaluate an individual’s ability to repeatedly perform intense exercise. The Yo-Yo IR level 1 (Yo-Yo IR1) test focuses on the capacity to carry out intermittent exercise leading to a maximal activation of the aerobic system, whereas Yo-Yo IR level 2 (Yo-Yo IR2) determines an individual’s ability to recover from repeated exercise with a high contribution from the anaerobic system. Evaluations of elite athletes in various sports involving intermittent exercise showed that the higher the level of competition the better an athlete performs in the Yo-Yo IR tests. Performance in the Yo- Yo IR tests for young athletes increases with rising age. The Yo-Yo IR tests have shown to be a more sensitive measure of changes in performance than maximum oxygen uptake. The Yo-Yo IR tests provide a simple and valid way to obtain important information of an individual’s capacity to perform repeated intense exercise and to examine changes in performance.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the application of the Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test level 2 (Yo-Yo IE2) to elite female soccer populations. Elite senior (n = 92), youth (n = 42), domestic (n = 46) and sub-elite female soccer players (n = 19) carried out the Yo-Yo IE2 test on numerous occasions across the season. Test-retest coefficient of variation (CV) in Yo-Yo IE2 test performance in domestic female players was 4.5%. Elite senior female players' Yo-Yo IE2 test performances were better (P < 0.01) than elite youth, domestic and sub-elite players (mean ± standard deviation; 1774 ± 532 vs 1490 ± 447, 1261 ± 449, and 994 ± 373 m). For elite senior female players, wide midfielders (2057 ± 550 m) had a higher Yo-Yo IE2 test performance (P < 0.05) than central defenders (1588 ± 534 m) and attackers (1516 ± 401 m), but not central midfielders (1764 ± 473 m) or full-backs (1964 ± 522 m). Large correlations were observed between Yo-Yo IE2 test performance and the total and high-intensity distance covered (r = 0.55; P < 0.05) during elite senior soccer matches (r = 0.70; P < 0.01). A large correlation was also obtained between Yo-Yo IE2 test performance and (r = 0.68; P < 0.01). Performances in the Yo-Yo IE2 test were greater (P < 0.05) in the middle and the end of the season compared with the preparation period for elite youth female players (1767 ± 539 and 1742 ± 503 vs 1564 ± 504 m) and in elite senior female players, Yo-Yo IE2 test performance increased by 14% (P < 0.01) after completing 4 weeks of intense training prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals (2049 ± 283 vs 1803 ± 342 m). The data demonstrate that the Yo-Yo IE2 test is reproducible and is an indicator of the match-specific physical capacity of female soccer players. Furthermore, the Yo-Yo IE2 test illustrates sensitivity by differentiating intermittent exercise performance of female players in various competitive levels, stages of the season and playing positions.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of 45 min of soccer-specific exercise in the reactive motor skills test (RMST); a novel test which measures sprint, passing and reactive agility (RAT) performance. A repeated-measures design was used to collect performance data. Forty-two high-level amateur male soccer players (age 18.5±3.5 years) were recruited. Participants were familiarised with the RMST prior to initial testing. Participants undertook 10 repetitions of the RMST before and after 45 min of soccer-specific exercise using the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test. Eighteen of these participants repeated the RMST for test re-test reliability determination. Paired t-tests and effect size statistics were used to determine the effect of 45 min of intermittent exercise on RMST performance. Reliability was assessed using the standard error of measurement. The exercise protocol resulted in moderate decreases of sprint (3.0±0.9%, mean±SD; 1.030±0.09 ES±90% Confidence Intervals; p<0.00001) and RAT performance (1.5±1.1%; 1.015±0.011; p<0.05), but improved passing task time (-2.7±1.2%; 0.973±0.012; p<0.001) and passing accuracy (3.6±3.3%; 1.036±0.33). Change in total test time was trivial. The test-retest coefficient of variation for the test was 2.4±0.8%. Soccer-specific exercise decreased sprint and reactive agility performance but improved technical skill performance on a novel, integrative and reliable test of soccer skill performance. Overall RMST performance time was largely unchanged.
The aim of this study was to examine the impact of maximal sprinting speed (MSS) on the peak speed attained during soccer matches. Time-motion analysis of running activity was collected from 14 highly trained young male outfield footballers (8 wide midfielders [WM] and 6 central defenders [CD], 173.2 ± 0.06 m, 60.8 ± 8.1 kg, 16.7 ± 0.7 years) during 14 different friendly international club level matches. The 2 fastest players (a WM and a CD) were compared with the slower players who played in the same position. Each player's MSS was determined using the fastest 10-m split time during an electronically timed 40-m sprint. Game speed was recorded via portable global positioning systems. Faster players reached higher absolute peak running speeds in games than did their slower counterparts regardless of the playing position, with large to very large effect sizes and qualitative indications of "almost certain" and "very likely" positive effects associated with being fast. None of the players reached their MSS during the matches; however, the fastest CD attained a lower percentage of his MSS compared to both, his slower CD counterparts and the fastest WM. Given the higher peak speeds reached in games by the fastest players, and the fact that all players (irrespective of their MSS) used a high percentage of their MSS, these preliminary results provide direct support to the hypothesis that MSS can impact on what a player can do in actual playing conditions. Our results also indicate that playing position has an important role in influencing the expression of MSS.