Activity profiles of professional soccer, rugby league and Australian football match play

J Sports Sci. 2014 Dec;32(20):1858-1866. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2013.823227. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


Abstract We compared the match activity profiles of elite footballers from Australian football (AF), rugby league (RL) and soccer (SOC), using identical movement definitions. Ninety-four elite footballers from AF, RL or SOC clubs in Australia participated in this study. Movement data were collected using a 5-Hz global positioning system from matches during the 2008-2011 competitive seasons, including measures of velocity, distance, acceleration and bouts of repeat sprints (RS). Australian footballers covered the greatest relative running distances (129 ± 17 m.min-1) compared to RL (97 ± 16 m.min-1) and SOC (104 ± 10 m.min-1) (effect size [ES]; 1.0-2.8). The relative distance covered (4.92 ± 2.10 m.min-1 vs. 5.42 ± 2.49 m.min-1; 0.74 ± 0.78 m.min-1 vs. 0.97 ± 0.80 m.min-1) and the number of high-velocity running (0.4 ± 0.2 no.min-1 vs. 0.4 ± 0.2 no.min-1) and sprint (0.06 ± 0.06 no.min-1 vs. 0.08 ± 0.07 no.min-1) efforts between RL and SOC players were similar (ES; 0.1-0.3). Rugby league players undertook the highest relative number of accelerations (1.10 ± 0.56 no.min-1). RS bouts were uncommon for all codes. RL and SOC players perform less running than AF players, possibly due to limited open space as a consequence of field size and code specific rules. While training in football should be code specific, there may be some transference of conditioning drills across codes.

Keywords: GPS; activity; football; match analysis; team sports.