Latest research in football - week 35 - 2023

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 Long-term Intensive Soccer Training Induced Dynamic Reconfiguration of Brain Network

Reference: Neuroscience. 2023 Aug 26;S0306-4522(23)00372-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2023.08.020. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Ju Li, Minghao Huang, Yaping Cao, Zhe Qin, Jian Lang

Summary: Long-term motor skill learning has been shown to impact the functional plasticity of the brain. Athletes, as a unique population, exhibit remarkable adaptive changes in the static properties of their brain networks. However, studying the differences between expert and novice athletes using a dynamic brain network framework can provide a fresh perspective on how motor skill learning affects the functional organization of the brain. In this study, we investigated the dynamic properties of brain networks in expert and novice soccer players at the whole-brain, network, and region-based levels. Our findings revealed that expert soccer players displayed reduced integration and increased segregation at the whole-brain level. As for network level, experts exhibited increased segregation and reduced flexibility in the visual network, enhanced integration between the visual and ventral attention networks, and decreased integration in the subcortical-sensorimotor and subcortical-cerebellar networks. Additionally, specific brain regions within the visual network exhibited greater recruitment in expert soccer players compared to novices at the nodal level. Furthermore, classification analyses demonstrated the critical role played by the visual network in the classification process. In conclusion, our study provides new insights into the dynamic properties of brain networks in expert and novice soccer players, and suggests that reduced integration and increased segregation in the visual network may be neuroimaging marker that distinguish expert soccer players from novices. Our findings may have implications for the training and development of athletes and advance our understanding of how motor skill learning affects brain functional organization.



#2 MAS and MANS Predicts Repeated Sprint Ability in Youth Soccer Players

Reference: Int J Exerc Sci. 2023 Jul 1;16(6):846-854. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Jørgen D Olsen, Henrik R Rognhaug, Daniel Kvamme, Øyvind Støren, Eva Maria Støa

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Summary: The study investigated the impact of maximal aerobic speed (MAS) and maximal anaerobic sprint (MANS) on repeated sprint ability (RSA) in soccer. 17 amateur-to semi-professional soccer players, age 19 (± 4) years, were tested for maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), oxygen cost of running (Cr), RSA consisting of 15·20m sprint each divided by a 100 seconds dribble track, and 40-meter sprint performance. MAS was calculated as VO2max · Cr-1, and MANS was defined as the highest velocity in the 40-meter sprint. There was a strong correlation between MAS and average 20-meter RSA velocity (r = 0.760; p < 0.01), and between MAS and performance decrement (r = -0.648; p < 0.01). The product of 0.5MAS + 0.5MANS exhibited the strongest correlation with RSA (r = 0.813; p < 0.01). The combination of MAS and MANS strongly predicted RSA. High-intensity aerobic interval training (HIIT) and maximal strength training (MST) are recommended to improve MAS and MANS, and could thus lead to better RSA on the soccer field.



#3 Perspectives and practices of nutritionists on dietary supplements for elite soccer teams: a cross-sectional survey study

Reference: Front Sports Act Living. 2023 Aug 11;5:1230969. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2023.1230969. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Rodrigo Abreu, Catarina B Oliveira, João Brito, Vitor H Teixeira

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Summary: Dietary supplements are part of the nutritional strategies frequently applied in sports performance support. With growing research on this subject and high demand from athletes, nutritionists need to keep up to date with the latest evidence and utility of dietary supplements, particularly in real-world contexts. As information about the use of dietary supplements among elite soccer players is still scarce, this work aimed to know how nutritionists working with elite soccer teams perceive and use these substances in their daily practice. A questionnaire previously used to describe nutritionists' beliefs and attitudes regarding the use of dietary supplements in a clinical context was adapted for this study. The online questionnaire was addressed to nutritionists working with elite soccer teams from six European Leagues and Brazil, between November 2022 and February 2023. Overall, the participants considered themselves well-trained (76.9%), knowledgeable (95.4%), and interested in dietary supplements (95.4%). The majority (70.8%) of the participants agreed or strongly agreed to recommend dietary supplements to soccer players. Personal usage of dietary supplements was associated with recommending supplements (p < 0.001), but no relationships were found with years of experience and academic level. Nutritionists working with elite soccer players consider the use of dietary supplements for performance-enhancement purposes and not only to compensate for nutritional deficits, which might contribute to their higher interest, training and perceived knowledge about this topic. Participants recognize players' interest in dietary supplements, and are mindful of the safety and efficacy of these products. The present study suggests that nutritionists working with elite soccer teams are among the highest prescribers of dietary supplements, although personal usage is lower than that of nutritionists working in a clinical context.



#4 Brain Spectroscopy Analysis in Retired Soccer Players With Chronic Exposure to Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Reference: Neurotrauma Rep. 2023 Aug 18;4(1):551-559. doi: 10.1089/neur.2023.0020. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Lucas Lopes Resende, Claudia da Costa Leite, Bruno Fraccini Pastorello, Davi Jorge Fontoura Solla, Pedro Nascimento Martins, Bernardo Fernandes Pelinca da, Mateus Rozalem Aranha, Suely Fazio Ferraciolli, Maria Concepción García Otaduy

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Summary: Soccer players are at risk of suffering cranial injuries in the short and long term. There is growing concern that this may lead to traumatic brain injury in soccer players. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is an analytical method that enables the measurement of changes in brain metabolites that usually occur before significant structural changes. This study aimed to use MRS to compare variations in brain metabolite levels between retired soccer players and a control group. Twenty retired professional soccer players and 22 controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging, including MRS sequences and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Metabolite analysis was conducted based on absolute concentration and relative ratios. N-acetyl-aspartate, choline, glutamate, glutamine, and myoinositol were the metabolites of interest for the statistical analysis. Retired soccer players had an average age of 57.8 years, whereas the control group had an average age of 63.2 years. Median cognitive evaluation score, assessed using the MMSE, was 28 [26-29] for athletes and 29 [28-30] for controls (p = 0.01). Uni- and multi-variate analyses of the absolute concentration of metabolites (mM) between former athletes and controls did not yield any statistically significant results. Comparison of metabolites to creatine ratio concentrations did not yield any statistically significant results. There were no changes in concentrations of brain metabolites that indicated brain metabolic changes in retired soccer players compared with controls.



#5 Normative data in resting and maximum heart rates and a prediction equation for young Tunisian soccer players: a cross-sectional study

Reference: EXCLI J. 2023 Jul 17;22:670-680. doi: 10.17179/excli2023-6215. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Hatem Ghouili, Zouhaier Farhani, Sofiane Amara, Soukaina Hattabi, Amel Dridi, Noomen Guelmami, Anissa Bouassida, Nicola Bragazzi, Ismail Dergaa

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Summary: Heart rate (HR) is an important indicator of work intensity during physical activity. Maximum heart rate (MHR) is a physiological measure that is frequently used as a benchmark for maximal exercise intensity. The aim of this study was to establish reference curves for maximum heart rate (MHR) and resting heart rate (RHR) and to develop an estimated equation for Tunisian adolescent footballers. The study involved 801 adolescent players, aged 11 to 18, who belonged to five Tunisian first-division soccer teams. The LMS method was used for smoothing the curves and the multivariate linear regression to develop a prediction equation of MHR. Our results showed that MHR and RHR reference curves decrease with age. The values of the median curves of MHR and RHR ranged from 208.64 bpm (11 years) to 196.93 (18 years) and 73.86 (11 years) to 63.64 (18 years), respectively. The prediction equation obtained from the model was MHR= 225.08 - 1.55 X Age (years) (R2 = 0.317; P < 0.001; standard error of the estimate (SEE) = 5.22). The comparisons between the estimated values and the measured values have found that our model (- 0.004 ±5.22 bpm) was to be more accurate than two other widely known models. BOX's equation underestimates the measured MHR values by -3.17 ± 5.37 bpm and TANAKA's equation overestimates by + 4.33 ±5.5 bpm. The reference curves can be used by coaches and physical trainers to classify the resting heart rate (RHR) and maximum heart rate (MHR) of each adolescent player, track their evolution over time, and design tailored training programs with specific intensities for Tunisian soccer players.



#6 External Workloads Vary by Position and Game Result in US-based Professional Soccer Players

Reference: Int J Exerc Sci. 2023 Jun 1;16(6):688-699. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Gary M Long, Sam M Joyce, Robert T Herrington, Kyle B Fox, Jack E Mumaugh

Summary: Professional soccer is a physically demanding sport that requires players to be highly trained. Advances using GPS allow the tracking of external workloads for individual players in practice and competition, however, there is a lack of evidence on how these measures impact match results. Therefore, we analyzed external workloads by player position and determined if they vary depending on the result of competitive matches. External workloads were analyzed in professional soccer players (n = 25) across 28 competitive games. One-way ANOVA determined if workloads varied by position (striker - ST, wide midfielder - WM, central midfielder - CM, wide defender - WD, central defender - CD) or across games won (n = 8), lost (n = 13) or tied (n = 7). Repeated-measures ANOVA assessed differences in workloads specific to each position in each of the result categories. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. Across all games, more high-speed and very-high speed running was done by ST and WD compared to CD (p < 0.001) and CM (p < 0.001 - 0.02). Whole-team data showed no differences in any external workload variable with respect to match result (p > 0.05), however, in games won ST did more very high-speed running than in losing games (p = 0.03) and defending players did more high and very high-speed running in games tied vs. those won or lost (p < 0.05). Whole-team external workloads do not vary depending on the match result; however, high speed running may be a differentiating factor at the positional level. Coaches should consider position-specific analysis when examining player workloads.



#7 Concomitant Injuries Associated With ACL Rupture in Elite Professional Alpine Ski Racers and Soccer Players: A Comparative Study With Propensity Score Matching Analysis

Reference: Orthop J Sports Med. 2023 Aug 17;11(8):23259671231192127. doi: 10.1177/23259671231192127. eCollection 2023 Aug.

Authors: Luca Farinelli, Robert Csapo, Amit Meena, Elisabeth Abermann, Christian Hoser, Christian Fink

Summary: For elite professional soccer players and alpine skiers, injuries associated with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, such as meniscal, cartilage, or collateral ligament lesions, could result in a delayed return to sport compared with isolated ACL injury. The purpose of the study was to provide a detailed description of associated injuries at the time of primary ACL reconstruction in elite soccer players and alpine skiers. It was hypothesized that soccer players and skiers would present different typical injury patterns due to different injury mechanisms. Surgical reports and arthroscopic images of elite professional soccer players and alpine skiers who underwent primary ACL reconstruction at a single institution between January 2010 and June 2022 were analyzed retrospectively. The presence and location of multiligamentous injury, meniscal tears, and chondral lesions were compared between the athlete groups. A propensity score matching analysis with 1:1 ratio was performed between skiers and soccer players to limit the effect of selection bias. Included were ACL reconstruction data representative of 37 soccer players and 44 alpine skiers. Meniscal pathology was found in 32 (86%) soccer players and 30 (68%) skiers. Chondral injuries were reported in 11 (30%) soccer players and 15 (34%) skiers. Results of the propensity score matching analysis in 15 pairs of soccer players and skiers indicated that soccer players had a significantly higher rate of medial meniscal injuries (73% vs 27%; P = .03) and lateral posterior root tears (33% vs 0%; P = .04) compared with skiers. A higher prevalence of combined chondral and meniscal injuries versus isolated ACL injuries was observed in both groups of athletes. Professional soccer players were characterized by higher prevalence of medial meniscal tears and lateral posterior root lesions compared with professional alpine skiers.



#8 Advancing and critical appraisal of an integrative load monitoring approach in microcycles in professional soccer

Reference: PLoS One. 2023 Sep 1;18(9):e0286372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0286372. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Linda Ammann, Ludwig Ruf, Adam Beavan, Paweł Chmura, Stefan Altmann

Summary: Despite load monitoring being considered an integral part of targeted performance management, including injury and illness prevention, there is currently no consensus of an effective monitoring system in professional soccer. Thus, the aims were to apply an integrative load monitoring approach, previously established in rink-hockey, in professional soccer; extend this approach with further data (Short Recovery and Stress Scale); assess this (extended) approach, thereby further evaluating the relationship between the used external load (EL) measures (total distance, distance above 55% and 70% of individual maximal speed, number of accelerations and decelerations > 4 m/s2, total loading) and the internal load (IL) measure session rate of perceived exertion training load (sRPE-TL) as well as between the used EL measures and sRPE. This retrospective observational cohort study analyzed data from a Swiss team collected over a 14 week-period during the 2021/22 season. Based on our findings, the integrative approach tested proved to be an applicable load monitoring tool in professional soccer, placing players on a fitness-fatigue continuum throughout the different microcycle sessions without using tests, thus providing relevant information to individually tailor training programs. sRPE-TL (ρ [95% CI] = .55 [.51 to .59] to .87 [.85 to .88]; all p < .001) better reflected the EL experienced by players than sRPE (ρ [95% CI] = .45 [.40 to .50] to .71 [.69 to .75]; all p < .001) supporting the definition of sRPE-TL as a measure of IL. However, for even stronger relevance of the tested tool, further research is warranted, especially to ascertain its sensitivity and determine an optimal selection of EL and IL measures. In sum, the present data clearly demonstrate the importance of load management taking place at an individual level, even within team structures, thereby analyzing a set of both EL and IL measures.



#9 Prolonged cognitive effort impairs inhibitory control and causes significant mental fatigue after an endurance session with an auditive distractor in professional soccer players

Reference: Psychol Sport Exerc. 2023 Sep 5;102533. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2023.102533.

Authors: Maria E C Ferreira, Dalton Lima-Junior, Heloiana Faro, Bart Roelands, Leonardo S Fortes

Summary: Throughout official soccer matches, the presence of cheer by the crowd could be considered a critical auditive distraction that could further impair the cognitive interference control system, multiple object tracking (MOT) skill, heart rate variability (HRV), and increase mental fatigue. As the resource is not immediately replenished, the impairment of the cognitive interference control system may be delayed following a soccer game. Then, evaluating the recovery time course of the cognitive interference control system, MOT skill, HRV, and mental fatigue after prolonged tasks combining physical, endurance, and cognitive effort are essential. We aimed to analyze the acute effect of cognitive effort and auditive distractor with 24-h follow-up throughout a prolonged endurance session on inhibitory control, subjective mental fatigue, MOT skill, and HRV in professional soccer players. Twenty professional male soccer players were recruited (23.56 ± 3.8 years, 78.1 ± 6.9 kg, 1.77 ± 0.06 m, and 12.5 ± 5.3% body fat). The sessions were performed in a randomized and counterbalanced crossover design, divided into four experimental conditions: endurance, endurance + MOT, endurance + MOT + AD, and endurance + AD. The soccer players completed the incongruent Stroop task utilizing an eye-tracker to assess cognitive effort. MOT task, subjective mental fatigue, and HRV were evaluated before the endurance training (60%Δ of maximal aerobic velocity during 40-min) and after 30-min and 24-h of recovery. These sessions were designed to investigate the acute effect of prolonged cognitive effort (repeated MOT throughout the endurance task) and AD (constant crowd noise and coach's voice each 15-40 s, totalizing = 80 voices) on inhibitory control, MOT skills, HRV, and subjective mental fatigue after a fixed endurance training session. There was no condition × time interaction for accuracy of inhibitory control (p > 0.05, ηp2 = 0.001). There was a significant condition × time interaction for inhibitory control response time (p < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.16). A higher response time of inhibitory control was found for the endurance + MOT + AD and endurance + MOT experimental sessions (p < 0.05). There was a significant condition × time interaction for subjective mental fatigue (p < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.46). A higher subjective mental fatigue was found for the endurance + MOT + AD and endurance + MOT experimental sessions (p < 0.05). There was no condition × time interaction for HRV (p > 0.05, ηp2 = 0.02). We concluded that cognitive effort throughout a prolonged endurance session impaired inhibitory control and increased mental fatigue without promoting greater MOT skill and HRV changes in professional soccer players.



#10 Erratum. Inconsistent Effect of Psychometric-Scale Familiarization on the Relationship Between Ratings of Perceived Exertion and External Load Measures in Elite Youth Soccer Players

Reference: Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2023 Sep 7;1. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2023-0345. Online ahead of print.

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#11 Total Score of Athleticism: Profiling Strength and Power Characteristics in Professional Soccer Players After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction to Assess Readiness to Return to Sport

Reference: Am J Sports Med. 2023 Sep 8;3635465231194778. doi: 10.1177/03635465231194778.

Authors: Luca Maestroni, Anthony Turner, Konstantinos Papadopoulos, Vasileios Sideris, Paul Read

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Summary: There is no consensus on the optimal testing procedure to determine return-to-sport (RTS) readiness after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Current approaches use limb symmetry across a range of tests, but this does not consider a patient's level of athleticism or benchmarks relative to his or her noninjured counterparts. The aim was tro examine the utility of the Total Score of Athleticism (TSA), a composite scale including strength, power, and reactive strength assessments, to aid RTS decision-making. A total of 95 professional soccer players (60 who underwent ACL reconstruction [mean age, 25.1 ± 12.6 years] and 35 who were uninjured [mean age, 23.8 ± 2.8 years]) completed a battery of tests including isokinetic knee extension and flexion torque, bilateral and unilateral countermovement jump height, relative peak power, and reactive strength index-modified. The TSA score (derived from Z scores) was calculated, and we (1) examined differences between the ACL-reconstructed and uninjured groups at the time of RTS, (2) assessed the predictive ability of the TSA to identify the player's status (ACL reconstruction vs uninjured control), and (3) included a case series to discuss the characteristics of players who sustained a subsequent injury within 4 months after RTS. A large difference between the ACL-reconstructed and uninjured groups in the TSA score (d = 0.84; P < .0001) was evident. For every additional increase of 1 unit in the TSA score, the odds of belonging to the ACL-reconstructed group decreased by 74% (95% CI, 0.19-0.56). By visual inspection, the frequency of reinjured players was higher in the low (4/7) TSA tertile compared with the medium (2/7) and high (1/7) TSA tertiles. Preliminary evidence indicates that the TSA may be a useful RTS readiness tool, as the composite score derived from strength and power measures was different in soccer players at the time of RTS after ACL reconstruction compared with healthy matched controls. There was also a higher frequency of low TSA scores in players who sustained a second injury after RTS. Therefore, it is recommended to routinely administer RTS tests encompassing strength, power, and reactive strength qualities each season across the largest possible number of players (ideally teammates).



#12 Methods to predict the timing and status of biological maturation in male adolescent soccer players: A narrative systematic review

Reference: PLoS One. 2023 Sep 8;18(9):e0286768. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0286768. eCollection 2023.

Authors: Joseph Sullivan, Simon J Roberts, John Mckeown, Martin Littlewood, Christopher McLaren-Towlson, Matthew Andrew, Kevin Enright

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Summary: The aim of this review was to summarise the methods used to predict and assess maturity status and timing in adolescent, male, academy soccer players. A systematic search was conducted on PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL, Medline and SPORTDiscus. Only experimental studies including male, academy players aged U9-U18 years registered with a professional soccer club were included. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using guidelines from the Framework of Potential Biases. Fifteen studies fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Studies were mainly conducted in European countries (n = 12). In total, 4,707 players were recruited across all 15 studies, with an age range of 8-18 years. Five studies were longitudinal, two studies were mixed-method designs and eight studies were cross-sectional. Due to high heterogeneity within the studies, a meta-analysis was not performed. Our findings provided no equivalent estimations of adult height, skeletal age, or age at PHV. Discrepancies were evident between actual and predicted adult height and age at PHV. The Bayley-Pinneau [1952], Tanner-Whitehouse 2 [1983] and Khamis-Roche [1994] methods produced estimates of adult height within 1cm of actual adult height. For age at PHV, both Moore [2015] equations produced the closest estimates to actual age at PHV, and the Fransen [2018] equation correlated highly with actual age at PHV (>90%), even when the period between chronological age and age at PHV was large. Medical imaging techniques (e.g., Magnetic Resonance Imaging, X-Ray, Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry) demonstrated high intra/inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.83-0.98) for skeletal maturity assessments. The poor concordance between invasive and non-invasive methods, is a warning to practitioners to not use these methods interchangeably for assessing maturational status and timing in academy soccer players. Further research with improved study designs is required to validate these results and improve our understanding of these methods when applied in this target population.



#13 Motivational climate dimensions predict youth soccer players' psychosocial well-being over time

Reference: Psychol Sport Exerc. 2023 Aug 24;70:102518. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2023.102518.

Authors: Lindsay E Kipp, Nicole D Bolter

Summary: This study tested a longitudinal model of relationships, based on self-determination theory, to determine whether motivational climate dimensions predicted young athletes' psychological need satisfaction and, in turn, personal and social responsibility. Youth soccer players (N = 161; M = 10.8 years-old, SD = 1.0 year) completed a survey at two time points, spaced 4 months apart, on average. Several significant direct effects emerged. First, greater perceptions that coaches punished for mistakes predicted decreases in relatedness with coaches and teammates. Second, greater perceptions of relatedness with coaches and teammates predicted increases in personal and social responsibility. Indirect effects also emerged: (a) punishment for mistakes predicted decreases in personal responsibility and social responsibility, and (b) cooperative learning predicted increases in social responsibility, through effects on coach and teammate relatedness. Results suggest that coaches who provide opportunities for collaborative learning and minimize mistake-contingent punishment will foster athletes' sense of connection and enhance their psychosocial well-being.



#14 Effectiveness of a Preventative Program for Groin Pain Syndrome in Elite Youth Soccer Players: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled, Single-Blind Study

Reference: Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Aug 22;11(17):2367. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11172367.

Authors: Filippo Cotellessa, Luca Puce, Matteo Formica, Maria Cesarina May, Carlo Trompetto, Marco Perrone, Andrea Bertulessi, Vittorio Anfossi, Roberto Modenesi, Lucio Marinelli, Nicola Luigi Bragazzi, Laura Mori

Summary: Groin pain syndrome (GPS) is a prevalent issue in soccer. This study assessed the effectiveness of a new preventive protocol on GPS for youth soccer players. The protocol included targeted stretching and strengthening exercises for the adductor and core muscles from preseason to midseason. A questionnaire and two pain provocation tests were used for the evaluation. Mild GPS required positive results in at least two evaluations, while severe GPS was associated with pain incompatible with engagement in any activity confirmed by diagnostic ultrasound. Forty-two elite male athletes (aged 16.9 ± 0.7 years) participated in the study, with half of them assigned to the usual training (control group) and the remaining athletes undergoing the preventive protocol (treatment group) for 24 weeks. GPS rates were 14.3% (three diagnoses: two mild, one severe) in the treatment group and 28.6% (six diagnoses: three mild, three severe) in the control group. Toward the end of the season, three players, one from the treatment group and two from the control group had to stop playing due to severe GPS problems. In addition, one player in the control group stopped midseason. Even though the reduction in the risk of developing GPS was not significant (relative risk of 0.50 ([95%CI 0.14 to 1.74], p = 0.2759), the halved incidence of severe GPS and the increased muscle strength related to the treatment (p = 0.0277) are encouraging data for future studies.



#15 Endurance performance adaptations between SSG and HIIT in soccer players: A meta-analysis

Reference: Int J Sports Med. 2023 Sep 7. doi: 10.1055/a-2171-3255. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Filipe Manuel Clemente, Jason Moran, Rodrigo Ramirez-Campillo, Marco Beato, José Afonso

Summary: The objective of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to compare the endurance performance chronic adaptations induced by running-based high-intensity interval training (HIIT), small-sided games (SSGs), and combined HIIT+SSGs in male and female youth and adult soccer players. The studies included in this review followed the PICOS criteria: (i) healthy soccer players; (ii) interventions based on SSGs; (iii) comparators exposed to only HIIT or combined SSGs+HIIT; (iv) endurance performance variables. Studies were searched for in the following databases: (i) PubMed; (ii) Scopus; (iii) SPORTDiscus; (iv) Web of Science. After conducting an initial database search that retrieved a total of 5,389 records, a thorough screening process resulted in the inclusion of 20 articles that met the eligibility criteria. Sixteen studies reported outcomes related to endurance performance measured through field-based tests, while 5 studies provided results from direct measurements of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). Results showed a non-significant small-magnitude favoring effect for the HIIT groups compared to the SSGs groups (ES=0.37, p=0.074) for endurance, while a non-significant small-magnitude favoring SSGs was observed (ES=-0.20, p=0.303) for VO2max. Despite the very low certainty of evidence, the findings suggest similar effects induced by both SSG and HIIT on improving endurance performance and VO2max.


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