Aerobic performance over the course of a season

One of the main concerns of soccer (or any court or field sport for that matter) fitness coaches is how to sustain fitness developed during a very short pre-season through the end of a very long competitive season when detraining of some physical capacities can be so steep. The following study provides insight on what you can use to monitor fitness throughout the season and can somewhat put our mind at ease to the detraining effect over the course of the season. The caveat however is what was done during the interim period between the end of the pre-season and the middle (or end of the season). Another issue is that the study finishes at mid-season. Because detraining effects are not linear one would expect that without appropriate training that things would be much more likely to go South AFTER the mid-point of the season. Also, the fact that the study looks at 12 players means it’s likely not accounting for the players who are most likely to ‘slip through the cracks’ (players who dress for games but don’t play).

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J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jun;25(6):1502-7.

Seasonal aerobic performance variations in elite soccer players.

Kalapotharakos VI, Ziogas G, Tokmakidis SP.

Source

Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece. vasikal@yahoo.com

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the seasonal changes in body composition and aerobic performance in elite soccer players. Twelve elite professional soccer players (aged 25 6 5 years, weight 75.7 6 5.3 kg, height 1.79 6 0.06 m) were measured for body fat (%), maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), running velocity at VO2max (VO2max), running velocity at a fixed blood lactate concentration of 4 mmol · L21 (v-4 mM) at the start of the preseason period, at the beginning of the competitive period, and at midseason. VO2max, v-4 mM, and vVO2max increased significantly (p , 0.05) by 4.5, 10.5, and 7.8,respectively, after the preseason period. Thereafter, the aerobic performance parameters remained relatively constant, with no significant changes throughout the competitive period. The results of this study suggest that moderate improvements were observed in VO2max, and the %VO2max at 4 v-4 mM, whereas higher improvements were observed in VO2max and v-4 mmol · L21 after the preseason training period. On the other hand, during the competitive period, aerobic performance remained unchanged. In addition, this study suggests that heart rate, lactate, vVO2, and VO2max are useful and practical predictors that help monitor aerobic performance changes during a soccer season.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.