Effect of altitude on football performance

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008 Aug:18 Suppl 1:76-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2008.00835.x.


Altitude will impact football performance through two separate and parallel pathways related to the hypobaric (physical) and hypoxic (physiological) components of terrestrial altitude: (a) the decrease in partial pressure of oxygen reduces maximal oxygen uptake and impairs "aerobic" performance by reducing maximal aerobic power, increasing the relative intensity of any given absolute level of work, and delaying recovery of high-energy phosphates between high-intensity "interval" type efforts; (b) the decrease in air density reduces air resistance which will facilitate high-velocity running, but will also alter drag and lift thereby impairing sensorimotor skills. These effects appear to have their greatest impact very early in the altitude exposure, and their physiological/neurosensory consequences are ameliorated by acclimatization, though the extent of restoration of sea level type performance depends on the absolute magnitude of the competing and living altitudes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Altitude*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Soccer*