Match-play movement and metabolic power demands of elite youth, sub-elite and elite senior Australian footballers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLoS ONE, 2019, 14 (2)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Kelly et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Aims Currently minimal research has quantified physical requirement differences in match-play between youth and senior Australian football players. The aim of the current research was to describe and compare the movement profiles and energy cost of youth, sub-elite and elite senior Australian football match-play. Methods Fifty-seven Australian footballers playing in an elite senior 20, sub-elite senior 16 and elite youth competition 21 participated in this study. Distance, speed based indices and metabolic power measures recording via Global Positioning System (GPS) devices were compared across three competition tiers. Kicks and handballs were collected via a commercial statistics provider (Champion Data) and compared across the competition tiers. Results Youth players recorded less field time (elite: ES = 1.37/sub-elite: ES = 1.68), total distance (elite: ES = 1.64 /sub-elite: ES = 1.55) and high speed running (elite: ES = 0.90/sub-elite: ES = 0.26) compared to the elite and sub-elite players. The average energy cost of elite (ES = 2.19) and sub-elite (ES = 1.58) match-play was significantly higher that youth match-play. Conclusions A progressive increase regarding physical demands was evident across AF competition tiers. The findings suggest that sub-elite match-play can provide a viable pathway for youth players to develop physical capacity and technical skills before transitioning to elite senior match-play.
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