Latest research in football - week 24 - 2018

As previous literature updates, I have performed a PubCrawler search looking for football articles in NCBI Medline (PubMed) and GenBank databases.

Following studies were retrieved for this week:

#1 Sex Differences in Physical Capacities of German Bundesliga Soccer Players
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Jun 20. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002662. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Cardoso de Araujo M, Baumgart C, Jansen CT, Freiwald J, Hoppe MW
Summary: Sex differences in physical capacities of elite soccer players have received limited attention. Therefore, this study investigated sex differences in linear and nonlinear sprint, squat and countermovement jump, core endurance, as well as incremental and intermittent endurance capacities in German Bundesliga soccer players. A total of 76 field players (29 women) were tested for the mentioned anaerobic- and aerobic-related physical capacities in a noninterventional cross-sectional design. The largest sex differences were evident in the explosive- and intermittent endurance-related capacities, with women presenting largely to extremely largely lower values in sprints, jumps, and intermittent endurance (effect size [ES] ≥1.77, p < 0.01). The differences in the total core endurance, running velocity at 2 and 4 mmol·L capillary blood lactate (v2 and v4), maximal heart rate (HR) (ES ≤ 0.72, p ≥ 0.06), and distance covered during the incremental endurance test (ES = 1.09, p = 0.01) were trivially to moderately lower for women. However, women had small to moderately higher ventral and dorsal core endurance (ES ≤ 0.69, p ≥ 0.07) and largely higher relative HR at the lactate thresholds (ES ≥ 1.54, p < 0.01). The individual data of female players showed more variability. Some individual data of women overlapped those of men, most evident in the total core endurance and v2. The findings indicate that there are sex differences in physical capacities according to the underlying amount of anaerobic and aerobic energy supply. The sex specificities should be considered to optimize training and testing procedures for soccer players.

#2 Developmental Changes in Isometric Strength: Longitudinal Study in Adolescent Soccer Players
Reference: Int J Sports Med. 2018 Jun 20. doi: 10.1055/s-0044-100389. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Duarte JP, Valente-Dos-Santos J, Coelho-E-Silva MJ, Malina RM, Deprez D, Philippaerts R, Lenoir M, Vaeyens R
Summary: This study aimed to examine longitudinal changes in isometric strength of the knee extensors (ImKE) and knee flexors (ImKF) at 30° and 60°. The sample was composed of 67 players aged 11.0-13.9 years at baseline over five years. Stature, body mass, skinfolds, and isometric strength (ImKE30°, ImKF30°, ImKE60° and ImKF60°) were measured. Fat mass and fat-free mass (FFM) were derived from skinfolds. Skeletal age was obtained using TW2 RUS. Multilevel random effects regression analyses extracted developmental polynomial models. An annual increment on chronological age (CA) corresponded to 5.6 N (ImKE30°: ), 2.7 N (ImKF30°: ), 4.6 N (ImKE60°: ) and 1.5 N (ImKF60°). An increment of 1 kg in FFM predicted isometric strength as follows: 1.2 N (ImKE30°), 2.1 N (ImKF30°), 3.1 N (ImKE60°) and 2.0 N (ImKF60°). The following equations were obtained: ImKE30°=5.759×CA+1.163×FFM; ImKF30°=-19.369+2.691×CA+0.693×CA2+2.108×FFM; ImKE60°=4.553×CA+3.134×FFM; and, ImKF60°=-19.669+1.544×CA+2.033×FFM. Although skeletal maturity had a negligible effect on dependent variables, age and body size, based on FFM, were relevant longitudinal predictors. During adolescence, systematic assessment of knee extensors and knee flexors are strongly recommended to prevent impairment of knee muscle groups.

#3 Assessing Cardiorespiratory Fitness of Soccer Players: Is Test Specificity the Issue?-A Review.
Reference: Sports Med Open. 2018 Jun 19;4(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s40798-018-0134-3.
Authors: Jemni M, Prince MS, Baker JS
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Summary: It is important that players and coaches have access to objective information on soccer player's physical status for team selection and training purposes. Physiological tests can provide this information. Physiological testing in laboratories and field settings are very common, but both methods have been questioned because of their specificity and accuracy respectively. Currently, football players have their direct aerobic fitness assessed in laboratories using treadmills or cycle ergometers, whilst indirect measures (using estimation of aerobic performance) are performed in the field, typically comprising multiple shuttle runs back and forth over a set distance. The purpose of this review is to discuss the applied techniques and technologies used for evaluating soccer players' health and fitness variables with a specific focus on cardiorespiratory testing. A clear distinction of the functionality and the specificity between the field tests and laboratory tests is well established in the literature. The review findings prioritize field tests over laboratory tests, not only for commodity purpose but also for motivational and specificity reasons. Moreover, the research literature suggests a combination of various tests to provide a comprehensive assessment of the players. Finally, more research needs to be conducted to develop a specific and comprehensive test model through the combination of various exercise modes for soccer players.

#4 Correlation between Match Performance and Field Tests in Professional Soccer Players
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:213-219. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0171. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Redkva PE, Paes MR, Fernandez R, da-Silva SG
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Summary: The aim of this study was to investigate possible correlations between aerobic and anaerobic fitness (in field tests) with performance during a 90 min friendly match, through the following variables: total distance covered, maximal running speed, number of high-intensity actions and number of sprints. Eighteen professional soccer players from a Brazilian elite team (age 23 ± 3 years, body mass 77.5 ± 8.9 kg) participated in the study. The athletes performed a Yo-Yo Endurance Test (aerobic fitness) and a Running Anaerobic Sprint Test (six maximal 35 m efforts separated by 10 s of passive recovery, anaerobic fitness). Data were collected during friendly matches using a GPS with 5 Hz technology. To establish the correlation between the variables determined during the matches, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used (significance level of p ≤ 0.05). A high correlation was found between distance covered in the Yo-Yo endurance test and total distance covered (r = 0.72; p < 0.05), number of high-intensity actions (r = 0.78; p < 0.05) and number of sprints (r = 0.88; p < 0.01) in the soccer matches. The RAST variables did not relate to the standards set during the matches (p < 0.05). From the results of the present study, it may be concluded that there is no correlation between RAST and friendly match data variables. However, better results in the Yo-Yo endurance test correlate with total distance, number of high-intensity actions and sprints during matches.

#5 The Impact of Nonlinear Pedagogy on Decision-Making and Execution in Youth Soccer Players According to Game Actions
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:185-198. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0169. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Praxedes A, Del Villar F, Pizarro D, Moreno A
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Summary: The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of a teaching program, based on Non-Linear Pedagogy, on decision-making and performance in youth soccer players as a function of the type of play action. Our participants were 19 players from the U12 age category. The teaching program, which was based on the application of modified games characterized by a numerical superiority in attack, was used for 14 training sessions. This program was conducted in two phases (preparation-for-intervention and intervention). Decision-making and execution for pass and dribbling actions were evaluated through the Game Performance Evaluation Tool. The results showed significant differences in favour of the experimental group in decision-making (p < .000) and the execution of passes (p = .003) after the intervention. However, such differences were not found for dribbling (decision-making, p = .402 and execution, p = .143). These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of program for teaching actions with a high tactical component, such as the pass, and a different approach must be considered in actions with a high technical component, such as dribbling. It is necessary to continue developing studies in this line to clarify these issues.

#6 Seasonal Body Composition Variation Amongst Elite European Professional Soccer Players: An Approach of Talent Identification
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:177-184. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0132. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Owen AL, Lago-Penas C, Dunlop G, Mehdi R, Chtara M, Dellal A
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Summary: The primary aim of the investigation was to study the seasonal changes in body composition in elite European soccer players and identify key playing positional differences. Twenty-two players (age = 24 ± 3.7 years, body height = 180.45 ± 5.12 cm, body mass = 76.66 ± 5.34 kg) were tested. Players' mass (kg), lean body mass (LBM), fat free mass (FFM), fat mass (FM), muscle girths (MG) and sum of 8 skinfolds (mm) were measured across 5 time points (T0 = Start of pre-season training; T1 = End of pre-season training; T2 = Mid-season; T3 = End of mid-season break; T4 = End of season). Players were divided into their tactical positional roles for analysis. The specific positions they were divided into included defenders (n = 8), midfielders (n = 8) and forwards (n = 6). Assessment of training and matchplay exposure were also recorded. Sites-4, Sites-7, Sites-8 and Fat Mass decreased dramatically from T0 to T1 and T2 in all playing positions (p < 0.01), while no remarkable differences were found between T2, T3 and T4. Except for defenders, calf girth and lean mass were higher in T2, T3 and T4 compared to T0 and T1 (p < 0.01). Midfielders were found to be leaner than forwards and defenders in all data collection time point sessions. Defenders showed higher values in calf girth and lean body mass than midfielders and forwards. It can be concluded from this investigation that there are large variances n positional body composition profiles amongst professional European soccer players. Furthermore, significant changes are prevalent and occur across the season from LBM, FFM, MG and skinfold assessment amongst European elite level soccer players.

#7 Soccer Small-Sided Games Activities Vary According to the Interval Regime and their Order of Presentation within the Session
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:167-175. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0168. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Sanchez-Sanchez J, Ramirez-Campillo R, Carretero M, Martin V, Hernandez D, Nakamura FY
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Summary: In order to investigate the physical demands of widely used in soccer small-sided games (SSGs), we compared game variations performed under different interval (fixed or variable) and timing regimens (beginning or end of a training session). Twelve male players wore GPS devices during the SSGs to record total distance, relative distance, distance at different speeds, and maximum velocity variables. Four variations of SSGs (4x4) were randomly applied: beginning of a training session with fixed and variable recovery, or end of a training session with fixed and variable recovery. During the beginning or end of a training session settings with fixed recovery duration, 2-min of playing and 2-min of recovery were provided. During the beginning and end of a training session settings with variable recovery, athletes kept playing until a goal was scored, or up to 2-min if no goals were scored. Results were analysed using MANOVA. Total distance and relative distance were higher in the beginning compared to end of training sessions for both fixed and variable recovery duration (small to moderate effect sizes). Distance at various speed ranges (i.e., 13-18 km/h and >18 km/h) was higher (p ≤ 0.01) at the beginning than at the end of training sessions with variable recovery. In addition, distance >18 km/h was higher at the beginning of a training session with variable recovery than fixed recovery and at the end of a training session with variable recovery than fixed recovery. In conclusion, several physical demand characteristics are affected by the moment of SSG application, while others respond to the recovery regime during SSGs, thus providing indications to the coaches to prescribe the intended training intensity by manipulating the context.

#8 Changes in Effective Playing Space when Considering Sub-Groups of 3 to 10 Players in Professional Soccer Matches
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:145-155. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0166. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Goncalves B, Folgado H, Coutinho D, Marcelino R, Wong D, Leite N, Sampaio J
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Summary: Success in soccer is much dependent on how players and teams create and restrict space and time. In match situations, players constitute small sub-groups to improve their collective synchronization and achievement of specific goals. This study aimed to identify changes in the effective playing space (EPS, defined as the smallest polygonal area delimited by the peripheral outfield players) when considering sub-groups of 3 to 10 players. Twenty outfield professional players participated in this study. The EPS, its regularity pattern (measured by the approximate entropy), coefficient of variation and players' mean speed were calculated for sub-groups of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 players, considering the smallest inter-player distance as the criterion. The EPS presented a most likely increase with a higher number of players, especially considering the transition from 3 to 4 players (~440% of variation, very large). As the EPS increased with the number of players, the correspondent regularity presented a trend of a most likely increase (from EPS3 vs. EPS4: ~25%, very large; to EPS9 vs. EPS10: ~11%, moderate). The mean speed results suggest that players may achieve different states of collective coordination, mainly between ~6 to 8 km.h-1. Overall, three different match scenarios should require additional attention when aiming to design more match transferable tasks: i) transition from EPS3 to EPS4; ii) transition from EPS4 up to EPS8; and iii) transition from EPS8 to EPS9. These results help to understand match self-organized behaviours and, consequently, allow to optimize task characteristics in practice sessions.

#9 The Reliability of Technical and Tactical Tagging Analysis Conducted by a Semi-Automatic VTS in Soccer
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:103-110. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0162. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Beato M, Jamil M, Devereux G
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Summary: The Video Tracking multiple cameras system (VTS) is a technology that records two-dimensional position data (x and y) at high sampling rates (over 25 Hz). The VTS is of great interest because it can record external load variables as well as collect technical and tactical parameters. Performance analysis is mainly focused on physical demands, yet less attention has been afforded to technical and tactical factors. Digital.Stadium® VTS is a performance analysis device widely used at national and international levels (i.e. Italian Serie A, Euro 2016) and the reliability evaluation of its technical tagging analysis (e.g. shots, passes, assists, set pieces) could be paramount for its application at elite level competitions, as well as in research studies. Two professional soccer teams, with 30 male players (age 23 ± 5 years, body mass 78.3 ± 6.9 kg, body height 1.81 ± 0.06 m), were monitored in the 2016 season during a friendly match and data analysis was performed immediately after the game ended. This process was then replicated a week later (4 operators conducted the data analysis in each week). This study reports a near perfect relationship between Match and its Replication. R2 coefficients (relationships between Match and Replication) were highly significant for each of the technical variables considered (p < 0.001). In particular, a high score of interclass correlation and a small coefficient of variation were reported. This study reports meaningless differences between Match and its Replication (intra-day reliability). We concluded that the semi-automatic process behind the Digital.Stadium® VTS was more than capable of recording technical tagging data accurately.

#10 Changes in Injury Risk Mechanisms after Soccer-Specific Fatigue in Male Youth Soccer Players
Reference: J Hum Kinet. 2018 Jun 13;62:33-42. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0157. eCollection 2018 Jun.
Authors: Lehnert M, Croix MS, Xaverova Z, Botek M, Varekova R, Zaatar A, Lastovicka O, Stastny P
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Summary: The aim of this study was to examine the acute effects of soccer specific fatigue on muscular and neuromuscular function in male youth soccer players. Elite soccer players (n = 20; age 15.7 ± 0.5 y; body height 177.75 ± 6.61 cm; body mass 67.28 ± 8.29 kg) were measured before and after soccer specific exercise (SAFT90). The reactive strength index (RSI) was determined by a drop jump test, leg stiffness (LS) by a 20 sub-maximal two-legged hopping test, and a functional hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio from isokinetic concentric and eccentric strength of the dominant and non-dominant leg (measured at angular velocities of 1.05 rad · s-1 and 3.14 rad · s-1). Metabolic response to the SAFT90 was determined by blood lactate and perceived exertion was assessed by the Borg scale. After simulated match play, a significant decrease in absolute LS (t = 4.411; p < 0.001; ω2 = 0.48) and relative LS (t = 4.326; p < 0.001; ω2 = 0.49) was observed and the RSI increased significantly (t = 3.806; p = 0.001; ω2 = 0.40). A reduction in LS found after the SAFT90 indicates possible reduction in dynamic knee stabilization. However, if we consider the changes in other observed variables, the present study did not clearly confirm that fatigue induced by a soccer specific protocol increased the risk of ACL and hamstring injury. This may be attributed to the simulated rather than actual match play used in the present study.

#11 Age and maturity related differences in motor coordination among male elite youth soccer players
Reference: J Sports Sci. 2018 Jun 18:1-8. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1488454. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Rommers N, Mostaert M, Goossens L, Vaeyens R, Witvrouw E, Lenoir M, D'Hondt E
Summary: This study investigated differences in generic and soccer specific motor coordination, as well as speed and agility depending on age and maturity in elite youth soccer players (U10-U15, N = 619). Measurements included body height, body weight and sitting height to estimate age at peak height velocity (APHV); three Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder subtests (i.e. jumping sideways (JS), moving sideways (MS), balancing backwards (BB)) to assess generic motor coordination; the UGent dribbling test for soccer specific motor coordination; a 5m/30m sprint and T-test for speed and agility, respectively. Age specific z-scores of the predicted APHV identified players as earlier, on time or later maturing. (M)ANOVA analyses showed significant age by maturity interaction effects for the speed and agility test cluster, revealing maturity related differences in U14 and U15 players. Next to an overall higher performance with age for all test clusters (η2 0.080-0.468), earlier maturing players outperformed their later maturing peers in 5m/30m sprinting. The opposite was seen for JS and BB. So, players' maturity status should be taken into account to adequately value performance in talent identification. Also, the focus on characteristics that appear to be minimally biased by an earlier maturational timing (i.e. motor coordination) should be increased.

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