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Practice vs Game External Load Measures in Starters and Non-Starters of a Men’s Collegiate Soccer

The International Journal of Strength and Conditioning is the world's first in S&C and Sport Science to be 'Diamond' Open Access. We have recently published a new article by Jennifer Fields, Justin Merrigan, Mary Kate Feit, and Margaret Jones, titled "Practice versus Game External Load Measures in Starters and Non-Starters of a Men’s Collegiate Soccer Team"


Monitoring external loads may minimize injury risk and improve physical performance. The purpose was to describe the external loads of a men’s collegiate soccer team during practice and games at the start of in-season play. In the first 2 weeks of the competitive season, National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I soccer athletes (n=19; mean±SD, age: 20.3±0.9 yr; body mass: 77.9±6.8kg; body height: 178.87±7.18cm; body fat: 10.0±5.0%; VO2max: 65.39±7.61mL/kg/min) wore a global positional system device (GPS/GNSS) during practices (n=8) and games (n=3). Starters were classified as players who maintained a minimum playing time of 45 minutes per game (n=10); other players were considered non-starters (n=9). External load metrics collected were: total distance (TD), player load (PL), high-speed distance (HSD, >13 mph (5.8 m/s)), high inertial movement analysis (IMA, >3.5m/s2), and repeated high intensity efforts (RHIE). Multivariate and repeated measures analyses of variance assessed differences in external load measures for practices and games in starters and non-starters. Relative to game loads, practices were quantified as high (>1 SD above the mean), medium (1 SD below the mean), low (2 SD below the mean) and very low (3 SD below the mean). For starters and non-starters, TD, PL, HSD, IMA, and RHIEs were lower in practices compared to games (p<0.001). No practices were classified as high or medium for any external load measure, with the majority of practices (75-100%) being classified as very low. Therefore, practice did not simulate game volumes or intensities. An individualized approach to monitoring is recommended to ensure starters receive adequate recovery and non-starters receive exposure to game-load physical stress.

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