Time Motion Analysis in the South African Premier Soccer League using GPS technology
Melesi, Kopano Zabulon
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Introduction: The game of soccer is an intermittent sport characterised by aerobic and anaerobic periods. TMA research on soccer in South Africa is lacking when compared with international counterparts, even though scientific-based soccer research can equip Strength and Conditioning Coaches in soccer with the precise knowledge to aid the development of individualised conditioning programmes for soccer players. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to quantify the physical demands of different positions in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in South Africa. Methods: GPS data on 26 players were collected, 46 matches and 459 observations and entries were analysed for the study. Minimax X4 Catapult GPS units were used to determine the physical and physiological demands made on soccer players. The following variables were recorded: Distances covered runs, run distance; number of runs, sprints, sprint distance and number of sprints in a match play. The quantitative variables were compared between playing positions using a mixed linear model, fitting playing position as fixed effect and match and (individual) player as random effect. Fitting the random effects allowed for the correlation of data within matches and for a given player. For each variable analysed, the overall F-test for playing position and the associated P-value are reported. Furthermore, the pairwise mean differences between playing positions, 95% confidence intervals for the mean differences, and associated P-values are reported. A so-called “lines” display is used to indicate which pairwise differences between the various playing positions are statistically significant. Results: All playing positions combined covered a mean total distance of 8494m (7197m-9200m) during a match which is notably lower than total distances reported from international soccer leagues which range from 10.180m- 11.680m. The CAM covered the highest total distance (9200.63m), closely followed by the WB (8724m) and CM (8621m). The ST, in contrast, covered the lowest total distance (7197m), closely followed by CB (7741m) and WA (8301m). The same positions made the greatest number of runs CAM (78m) and WB (72m). The WA covered the highest sprinting distance (299m), narrowly followed by the WB (278m). The lowest sprint distance was registered by CM (99m) and CB (101m). The WA performed a greater number of sprints (19) closely followed by the WB with a total of (17). CM and CB listed the lowest number of sprints in a match (7). Conclusions: In order to optimise soccer performance and to construct appropriate conditioning programmes, it is critical to have an understanding of the physiological demands placed on PSL players during a match. Our findings emphasise the differences in physical demand between the playing positions in soccer. Coaches can apply the findings of this study to develop position-specific strength and conditioning programmes for PSL players. For example, programmes for the CAM, should pay attention on improving aerobic capacity (extensive continuous low intensities) and aerobic power (intensive high intensity training, 2v2). The total distance covered by the W positions suggests that the W should have a balanced programme that switches between aerobic and anaerobic intensities. WA covers the highest sprinting distance among all positions; training regimens should focus on improving the W’s anaerobic capacity and anaerobic power ability. The WB training would consist of anaerobic modalities to help prepare the WB for the high intensity of speed endurance demands associated with the position. However, the WA must concentrate on anaerobic power as the sprints in this position consist of lower distances, so speed endurance production is essential in this position. To perform at high intensity throughout the duration of the match, soccer players should improve both aerobic and anaerobic endurance using high-intensity training modalities. This study can also help aspiring soccer players from club level to understand the physiological demands to play at PSL level and the physical demands at International level.