Elite footballer’s competitive performance rating criteria

PhD E.M. Kalinin1
PhD A.E. Vlasov1
V.V. Panikov1
Master's student O.V. Chigirintseva2
1Russian Football Union, Moscow
2Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports, Youth and Tourism (SCOLIPE), Moscow

Keywords: competitive performance, range, run, sprint, percentage, football.

Background. Modern football training systems give a special priority to the individual performance and teamwork patterns dictated by the game goals and tactics achieved by versatile techniques and intensive work as demonstrated by many national and foreign studies [1, 2, 4-9]. However, the issues of performance intensity control are still ranked among the key subjects for research, with the game performance commonly classified into the maximal, sub-maximal, high and moderate levels [3]. It is still questionable whether or not such classification may be directly copied from the cyclic sports to the acyclic ones including football. Most of the specific individual actions in football are only 1-4 seconds long including jumps, passes, 5-20m sprints, kicks and encounters followed by 30-50 second low- to moderate-intensity run breaks depending on the game roles [2]. Since every action is a location-specific and requires some point on the field being reached as fast as possible, the players’ speeds vary in a wide range and may be classified into: (1) walking at 0-7.0 km/h; (2) low-intensity run at 7-15 km/h; (3) moderate-intensity run at 15-20 km/h; (4) high-intensity run at 20-25 km/h; and (5) 25+ km/h explosive sprint, with a top speed limited only by the individual qualities and fitness; (6) and the total run (km) per match, i.e. summarized distances covered by points 1 to 5. A total per match (TPM) is known to be significantly stable for the last few years to average 10-12 км [6], with Lionel Messi, however, whose TPM is around only 8.5 km per match known to be able to sprint at 25+ km/h instantly.

One of the key prerequisite for the 25+ km/h sprint is the prior speed [8]: the lower is the pre-start speed the higher may be the boost to reach the individual top speed. It may be assumed that the more economical is the background run, the more efficient may be the startup impulse for the 25+ km/h sprint. It may be beneficial in this context to analyze in detail the actual run-to-sprint (20-25 km/h TPM to 25+ km/h TPM) statistics that are known to generally show the performance intensity being on the rise for the last few years.

Objective of the study was to make profile the actual run-to-sprint (20-25 km/h TPM to 25+ km/h TPM) statistics of the Russian Premier League teams in the top-ranking international matches.

Methods and structure of the study. For the individual performance recording and analyzing purposes we used 6 cameras rated at 25 frames per second and fixed around the field on poles up to 12m high, with the videos captured and analyzed by an application software to fix the 20-25 to 25+ km/h run intensity zones and totals per match. Sampled for the study were the high-ranking players (n=230) competing in the Russian Premier League, Champions League, European League and other top-ranking tournaments.

Results and discussion. Given on Figure 1 is the 0-25 km/h run profile that shows the performance intensity associated with the speed growth till the plateau at 25 km/h in the case. Since every performance peak in football seldom takes more than 4 s, the plateau is followed by the speed drop down to the low levels and stoppages when the game allows or requires. Normally this moment is preceded by the completion of a technical action like a pass or reception. Therefore, every action may be described by a speed profile i.e. a curve with the speed tops and lows – see Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. Individual 4-second performance profile

Figure 2. Individual performance profile per match

The speed peaks on the profiles are generally indicative of the top intensity of the individual performance, with the relevant quantitative data (accelerations, total classified runs etc.) showing the individual/ team activity on the whole. Having analyzed the sample statistics, we computed the total individual 20-25 km/h TPM and 25+ km/h TPM plus the team totals and averages. Sampled for the tests were 10 main-line players of every team excluding the goalkeepers and including 3 substitutes per match: see Table 1 and Figure 3.

Table 1. The 20-25 to 25+ km/h average totals per match of the sample, m

Totals per match, TPM

Russian Premier League (n=179)

International matches (n=51)

t

Х

Σ    σ

Х

σ

Average 20-25 km/h TPM

7423

1105

6000

891

8,7

Average 25+ km/h TPM

1289

416

2160

329

14,1

Note:  p<0.01 for t=2,592; and p<0.001 for t=3,323

The Russian Premier League average 20-25 km/h and 25+ km/h totals per match were estimated at 7423±1105 m and 1289±416 m, respectively. And the European Cup average 20-25 km/h and 25+ km/h totals per match were estimated at 6000±891 m and 2160±329 m – that means that in the Russian Premier League matches the 20-25 km/h run totals are significantly (p<0.001) higher and the 25+ km/h totals are significantly (p<0.001) lower than in the European Cup matches. We assumed that it could be some correlation between these two run styles. A correlation analysis showed a negative correlation of the latter, with r=–0.63: see Figure 4.Figure 3. Average 20-25 km/h (A) versus average 25+ km/h (B) totals per match in European Cups versus Russian Premier League, 2018

Figure 4. Correlation of the 20-25 km/h and 25+ km/h totals per match for the Russian Premier League versus European Cup matches

There are reasons to conclude, therefore, that the higher are the 20-25 km/h totals per match the lower are the 25+ km/h ones i.e. the players might be too drained for sprint impulses, with the fatigue being apparently game role specific. Since the two run styles were found to be in negative correlation and the total performance intensity is determined by the high-intensity runs a sprint totals per match [1, 5, 7], it may be beneficial to have the performance and sprinting resource rated by a ratio of 20-25 km/h TPM to 25+ km/h TPM as follows:

 [(25+ km/h TPM) / (20-25 km/h TPM + 25+ km/h TPM)] x 100 

Let us now complement Table 1 by the sprinting resource ratio i.e. sprint ratio per match in percent: see Table 2 that shows that the lower are the 20-25 km/h totals per match the higher are the 25+ km/h ones i.e. the sprint ratio/ sprinting resource per match.

Table 2. The 20-25 km/h and 25+ km/h totals per match versus the sprint per match ratio in the Russian Premier League versus international tournaments

Performance rates

Russian Premier League (n=179)

International matches (n=51)

t

Х

σ

Х

σ

Average 20-25 km/h TPM

7423

1105

6000

891

8,7

Average 25+ km/h TPM

1289

416

2160

329

14,1

Sprint per match ratio, %

15

3

27

4

22,9

Note:  p<0.01 for t=2,592; and p<0.001 for t=3,323

 

 

Conclusion. Match performance in football may be classified and analyzed by the run speed ranges and the relevant limit values since the modern football has become more intensive and fast for the last few years, particularly in terms of the 20-25 km/h and 25+ km/h run totals per match. The study found that in the Russian Premier League matches the 20-25 km/h run totals are significantly (p<0.001) higher and the 25+ km/h totals are significantly (p<0.001) lower that in the international matches; that the higher are the 20-25 km/h totals per match the lower are the 25+ km/h ones apparently due to fatigue; and the sprint per match ratios were found higher in the international matches than in the Russian Premier League ones.

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Corresponding author: emkalinin@gmail.com

Abstract

Competitive performance in modern football is highly sensitive to the teamwork quality with every player expected to contribute his skills and actions to the team success. It has long been analyzed by the national and foreign researchers, albeit the issue of the teamwork intensity rating still remains largely unresolved. Competitive actions in the modern football may be generally grouped by speed into walking (0-7.0 km/h); jogging (7.0-15.0 km/h); low-intensity run (15-20 km/h); high-intensity run (20-25 km/h); and sprint (25+ km/h), with the group totals usually summated per match for analyses. One of the key prerequisites for the 25+km/h sprint speed is the primary/ background speed, i.e. the higher is the background speed, the easier is the sprinting impulse. It may be also assumed that the lower is the low-intensity run total the higher is the potential for the 25+ km/h sprint intervals. This is the reason why the 20-25 km/h and 25+km/h run totals per match need to be given a special priority by analysis for they heavily contribute to the overall intensity of the individual match performance. We analyzed the above data of the players competing in the Russian Premier League and top-ranking international events (Champions League, European League and other tournaments with participation of the Russian national team). The analysis found the higher proportion of the 20-25 km/h and lower proportion of the 25+ km/h totals for the Russian Premier League players versus their foreign peers. Dominance of the 20-25 km/h run totals per match was found to undermine the 25+ km/h totals i.e. suppress the sprinting abilities and match totals of the Russian Premier League players.