This study compared the intensity distribution of time-motion analysis data, when speed zones were categorized by different methods. 12 U18 players undertook a routine battery of laboratory- and field-based assessments to determine their running speed corresponding to the respiratory compensation threshold (RCT), maximal aerobic speed (MAS), maximal oxygen consumption (vV˙O2max) and maximal sprint speed (MSS). Players match-demands were tracked using 5 Hz GPS units in 22 fixtures (50 eligible match observations). The percentage of total distance covered running at high-speed (%HSR), very-high speed (%VHSR) and sprinting were determined using the following speed thresholds: (1) arbitrary; (2) individualised (IND) using RCT, vV˙O2max and MSS; (3) individualised via MAS per se; (4) individualised via MSS per se; and (5) individualised using MAS and MSS as measures of locomotor capacities (LOCO). Using MSS in isolation resulted in 61% and 39% of player's % HSR and % VHSR, respectively, being incorrectly interpreted, when compared to the IND technique. Estimating the RCT from fractional values of MAS resulted in erroneous interpretations of % HSR in 50% of cases. The present results suggest that practitioners and researchers should avoid using singular fitness characteristics to individualise the intensity distribution of time-motion analysis data. A combination of players' anaerobic threshold, MAS, and MSS characteristics are recommended to individualise player-tracking data.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.