Monitoring Accumulated Training and Match Load in Football: A Systematic Review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 8;18(8):3906. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18083906.


(1) Background: Training load monitoring has become a relevant research-practice gap to control training and match demands in team sports. However, there are no systematic reviews about accumulated training and match load in football. (2) Methods: Following the preferred reporting item for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA), a systematic search of relevant English-language articles was performed from earliest record to March 2020. The search included descriptors relevant to football, training load, and periodization. (3) Results: The literature search returned 7972 articles (WoS = 1204; Pub-Med = 869, SCOPUS = 5083, and SportDiscus = 816). After screening, 36 full-text articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Eleven of the included articles analyzed weekly training load distribution; fourteen, the weekly training load and match load distribution; and eleven were about internal and external load relationships during training. The reviewed articles were based on short-telemetry systems (n = 12), global positioning tracking systems (n = 25), local position measurement systems (n = 3), and multiple-camera systems (n = 3). External load measures were quantified with distance and covered distance in different speed zones (n = 27), acceleration and deceleration (n = 13) thresholds, accelerometer metrics (n = 11), metabolic power output (n = 4), and ratios/scores (n = 6). Additionally, the internal load measures were reported with perceived exertion (n = 16); heart-rate-based measures were reported in twelve studies (n = 12). (4) Conclusions: The weekly microcycle presented a high loading variation and a limited variation across a competitive season. The magnitude of loading variation seems to be influenced by the type of week, player's starting status, playing positions, age group, training mode and contextual variables. The literature has focused mainly on professional men; future research should be on the youth and female accumulated training/match load monitoring.

Keywords: match demands; performance; periodization; training control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Football*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seasons
  • Soccer*