Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 98 - 102
Case report
Relative Match Intensities at High Altitude in Highly-Trained Young Soccer Players (ISA3600)
Martin Buchheit1,2,, Kristal Hammond3, Pitre C. Bourdon4, Ben M. Simpson4, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis5,6, Walter F. Schmidt7, Christopher J. Gore5,8, Robert J. Aughey3

1 Sport Science Department, Myorobie Association, Montvalezan, France
2 Performance Department, Paris Saint Germain FC, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
3 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
4 ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar
5 Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
6 University of Canberra, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, Canberra, Australia
7 Department of Sports Medicine / Sports Physiology, University of Bayreuth, Germany
8 Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

Martin Buchheit
✉Performance Department, Paris Saint Germain FC, 4a avenue du president Kennedy, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Email: mb@martin-buchheit.net

Received:
14-05-2014 -- Accepted: 07-11-2014 --
Published (online): 01-03-2015

ABSTRACT

To compare relative match intensities of sea-level versus high-altitude native soccer players during a 2-week camp at 3600 m, data from 7 sea-level (Australian U17 National team, AUS) and 6 high-altitude (a Bolivian U18 team, BOL) native soccer players were analysed. Two matches were played at sea-level and three at 3600 m on Days 1, 6 and 13. The Yo-Yo Intermittent recovery test (vYo-YoIR1) was performed at sea-level, and on Days 3 and 10. Match activity profiles were measured via 10-Hz GPS. Distance covered >14.4 km.h-1 (D>14.4 km·h-1) and >80% of vYo-YoIR1 (D>80%vYo-YoIR1) were examined. Upon arrival at altitude, there was a greater decrement in vYo-YoIR1 (Cohen’s d +1.0, 90%CL ± 0.8) and D>14.4 km·h-1 (+0.5 ± 0.8) in AUS. D>14.4 km.h-1 was similarly reduced relative to vYo-YoIR1 in both groups, so that D>80%vYo-YoIR1 remained similarly unchanged (-0.1 ± 0.8). Throughout the altitude sojourn, vYo-YoIR1 and D>14.4 km·h-1 increased in parallel in AUS, so that D>80%vYo-YoIR1 remained stable in AUS (+6.0%/match, 90%CL ± 6.7); conversely D>80%vYo-YoIR1 decreased largely in BOL (-12.2%/match ± 6.2). In sea-level natives competing at high-altitude, changes in match running performance likely follow those in high-intensity running performance. Bolivian data confirm that increases in ‘fitness’ do not necessarily translate into greater match running performance, but rather in reduced relative exercise intensity.

Key words: Association football, hypoxia, match running performance
Key Points
  • When playing at high-altitude, players may alter their activities during matches in relation to their transient maximal physical capacities, possibly to maintain a ‘tolerable’ relative exercise intensity.
  • While there is no doubt that running performance in not the main determinant of match outcomes (Carling, 2013), fitness levels influence relative match intensity (Buchheit et al., 2012, Mendez-Villanueva et al., 2013), which in-turn may impact on decision making and skill performance (Rampinini et al., 2008).
  • In the context of high-altitude competitions, it is therefore recommended to arrive early enough (i.e., ~2 weeks) to allow (at least partial) acclimatisation, and in turn, allow sea-level native players to regulate their running activities in relation to both actual game demands and relative match intensity.

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    Martin Buchheit, Kristal Hammond, Pitre C. Bourdon, Ben M. Simpson, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Walter F. Schmidt, Christopher J. Gore, Robert J. Aughey, (2015) Relative Match Intensities at High Altitude in Highly-Trained Young Soccer Players (ISA3600). Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (14), 98 - 102.

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