Int J Sports Med 2010; 31(11): 818-825
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1262838
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Match Running Performance and Fitness in Youth Soccer

M. Buchheit1 , A. Mendez-Villanueva1 , B. M. Simpson1 , P. C. Bourdon1
  • 1Physiology Unit, Sport Science Department, ASPIRE, Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision July 05, 2010

Publication Date:
11 August 2010 (online)


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 [2ndS] 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 (η2): 0.20–0.45). When adjusted for age and individual playing time, match running performance was position-dependent (P<0.001, η2: 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 2ndS and S positions (e. g., VHIA vs. VVam-eval: r=0.70 in 2ndS). 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.


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Dr. Martin Buchheit

Physiology Unit, Sport Science


ASPIRE, Academy for Sports


P.O. Box 22287, Doha


Phone: +974/4413/6103

Fax: +974/4413/6060