Evolution of match performance parameters for various playing positions in the English Premier League

Hum Mov Sci. 2015 Feb;39:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


This study aimed to investigate position-specific evolution of physical and technical performance parameters in the English Premier League (EPL). Match performance observations (n=14700) were collected using a multiple-camera computerized tracking system across seven seasons (2006-07 to 2012-13). Data were analyzed relative to five playing positions: central defenders (n=3792), full backs (n=3420), central midfielders (n=3200), wide midfielders (n=2136) and attackers (n=2152). High-intensity running distance increased in the final season versus the first season in all playing positions (p<.05, ES: 0.9-1.3) with full backs displaying the greatest increase (∼36% higher in 2012-13). Similar trends were observed for sprint distance with full backs demonstrating the most pronounced increase across the seven seasons (36-63%, p<.001, ES: 0.8-1.3). Central players (central defenders and midfielders) illustrated the most pronounced increases in total passes and pass success rate (p<.05, ES: 0.7-0.9) whilst wide players (full backs and wide midfielders) demonstrated only small-moderate increases in total passes and pass success rate (p<.05, ES: 0.6-0.8). The data demonstrates that evolving tactics in the EPL have impacted on the physical demands of wide players and the technical requirements of central players. These findings could be used for talent identification or position-specific physical and technical training.

Keywords: Football; Longitudinal; Passing; Positional; Sprinting.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running
  • Soccer*
  • United Kingdom