Game Distribution and Density Differ between the Major British and European Professional Football Leagues
MATT SPRINGHAM1, 2*, MARK WALDRON1, 3, DARREN BURGESS4 & ROBERT U. NEWTON2
1 Faculty of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Marys University, London, UK 2 School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, AU 3 School of Science and Technology, University of New England, NSW, AU 4 Performance Department, Arsenal Football Club, London, UK. *Corresponding author: email@example.com
@MattSpringham, @MarkWaldron13, @darrenburgess25, @ProfRobNewton
Competition load, as defined by Soligard et al. (. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50, 1030-1041), is a function of the physical demands of match play and the distribution and density of games in professional Association Football. Though a wealth of data are available to describe the match load demands of leagues (Bradley et al., 2013, Human Movement Science, 32, 808-821), no empirical data are available to describe the game distribution and density characteristics of leagues. Accordingly, this investigation compared the total number of games (TG), two-game weeks (2GW), and average game density (GD) (number of games per week) of all 164 teams competing across nine major British and European leagues: English Premier League (EPL), English Championship (EC), Scottish Premiership (SP), Scottish Championship (SC), German Bundesliga (GB), Spanish La-Liga (SLL), Italian Serie A (ISA), French Ligue 1 (FL1) and the Dutch Eredivisie (DE) during the 2016/2017 season. All official league, play-off, domestic cup, and continental cup games were included in the analysis. Data are presented as mean ± SD. Kruskal-Wallis testing identified an effect of league on all dependent variables (P < 0.001). Post-hoc Mann-Whitney U tests identified differences between leagues in TG: EC (50.8±2.0) > SC (47.5±3.1), SP (47.3±4.7), EPL (46.9±6.7), SLL (46.6±7.3), FL1 (45.9±6.4), ISA (43.6±5.3), GB (41.0±7.1), DE (40.7±6.2); SC > FL1, ISA, GB, DE; SP > ISA, GB, DE; EPL > ISA, GB, DE; SLL > GB, DE; FL1 > GB, DE; ISA > GB, DE; GB > DE (P < 0.05). Differences in 2GW were identified between: EC (15.5±1.6) > EPL (12.6±5.1), SLL (12.2±6.9), FL1 (9.6±5.7), SP (9.3±3.7), ISA (7.9±5.1), GB (7.3±5.8), SC (5.8±2.0), DE (5.5±4.2); EPL > GB, FL1, ISA, SC, DE; SLL > GB, ISA, SC, DE; FL1 > GB, DE; SP > SC, DE (P < 0.05). Differences in GD were identified between: EC (1.26±0.04) > SLL (1.16±0.17), FL1 (1.13±0.13), EPL (1.13±0.16), SC (1.09±0.06), ISA (1.07±0.13), SP (1.04±0.09), GB (1.02±0.17), DE (0.99±0.13); SLL > ISA, SP, GB, DE; FL1 > ISA, SP, GB, DE; EPL > GB, DE; SC > GB, DE; ISA > GB, DE; SP > DE (P < 0.05). Game distribution and density vary between leagues. Some leagues (EC and SLL) present players and teams with more notable TG, 2GW and GD demands than others (GB and DE). Teams in leagues with greater game density demands might have a greater need for squad rotation and physical or tactical periodisation methods to mitigate the risks associated with player fatigue.