Fitness assessment and recovery strategies for soccer
2013-06-28T13:20:13Z (GMT) by
In recent years our understanding of the physical demands of soccer has improved. We know that the intensity at which the game is played has increased and that the fixture schedules for professional teams can often be very congested. These factors are likely to have increased the importance placed on the physical condition of players. Therefore, the process of monitoring the fitness levels of players is likely to be an important task within clubs. Any fitness assessments that are employed need to be sensitive enough to detect changes that may result from different training stimuli. A further critical consideration for clubs is what are the best practices to implement in order to maximise recover between matches? The two areas that are central to successful recovery of performance are the restoration of muscle and liver glycogen stores and the rapid reduction of muscle soreness. We have a good understanding of the importance of carbohydrate feeding in the immediate hours following the completion of exercise, furthermore that high levels of carbohydrate consumed during short recovery periods can improve subsequent endurance running capacity in both continuous and intermittent exercise. However, there is dearth of literature investigating the effects that different types (glycemic index) of carbohydrates have on subsequent performance of high intensity intermittent exercise. Furthermore, we know that the movement patterns experienced in soccer commonly induce symptoms of muscle damage. Despite this there is little research based information on modalities that reduce these potentially detrimental side-effects (Bamett, 2006). For these reasons the series of investigations that have been conducted in this thesis were designed with the intent to examine areas that are critical to the preparation and recovery of soccer players. The first of five experimental chapters collated information on the use of fitness testing within English professional football. It was concluded that the practise of fitness testing players is extremely commonplace and that field-based testing protocols were far more popular an assessment method. The second experimental chapter went on to demonstrate that the most commonly used fitness test within professional football (MSFT) was sensitive enough to detect performance changes that occur as a result of training. A further finding within the context of the question was that it is possible for female players to significantly improve aerobic capabilities with additional high intensity aerobic training. The third experimental chapter investigated the effect different glycemic index high CHO diets could have on recovery of performance following 90 min of intermittent soccer type exercise. This study concluded that consuming either predominately high or low GI CHO mixed meals in the 24h recovery period between bouts of high intensity prolonged intermittent exercise had no difference on measures of performance. The final two experimental chapters went on to investigate the effects of cold water immersion on indices of muscle damage following intermittent exercise. Results from these investigations suggest that submerging individuals in 10°C water immediately following high intensity intermittent exercise reduces some but not all indices of muscle damage. In summary, fitness assessments of players are commonly made within professional football clubs. The most common test used was the MSFT and this appears to be sensitive to changes that result as a consequence of training. During recovery from high intensity intermittent exercise the importance of carbohydrates is apparent although the type of carbohydrate appears to be less important, furthermore, cold-water immersion may be effective in reducing some but not all indices of muscle damage.