Are declines in physical performance associated with a reduction in skill-related performance during professional soccer match-play?

J Sports Sci. 2011 Jan;29(1):63-71. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2010.521945.


The aim of this study was to determine whether declines in physical performance in a professional soccer team during match-play were associated with reductions in skill-related performance. Computerized tracking of performance in midfield players (n = 11) showed that total distance and distance covered in high-speed running (>14.4 km · h⁻¹) were greater in the first versus second half of games (both P < 0.001) and in the first versus the final 15 min of play (P < 0.05). Analysis of high-speed running across 5-min periods showed that more distance was covered in the first versus the final game period, and in the peak period of activity compared with the following period and game mean for other periods (all P < 0.05). Analysis of skill-related measures revealed no significant decline between halves, across 15-min intervals or in the 5-min period following that of peak high-speed activity compared with the game mean for other 5-min periods. In contrast, frequencies of passing, ball possessions, and duels were greater in the first 5-min than in the final 5-min period (P < 0.05). Neither physical nor skill-related performance was affected across three consecutive games within a period of ≤7 days. The results suggest that the players were generally able to maintain skill-related performance throughout games and when competing in successive matches within a short time.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Running / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology*