Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on professional soccer players’ match physical activities

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Science and Medicine in Football, 2021, 5, (NO. S1), pp. 44-52
Issue Date:
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AIM: The COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2019–20 Italian Serie A competition to stop and players went into lockdown. During lockdown, players only trained at home, likely having a detrimental effect on players’ physical fitness and capacity. This study investigated the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on professional soccer players’ match physical activities. METHODS: Match activities of 265 male professional soccer players were assessed in two periods prior to (PRE1 and PRE2) and one period following the lockdown (POST) using a video tracking system. Linear mixed models were used to examine differences between-periods in total (TD), very high-speed (VHS), sprint (SPR), high-acceleration (ACC) and high-deceleration (DEC) distances, considering full match data and data from six 15-min intervals. RESULTS: TD and VHS during POST were lower than the two other competitive periods (p < 0.001, d small-moderate). SPR did not show differences between periods (p > 0.636). ACC and DEC during POST were lower than PRE2 (p < 0.015, d small). Declines in most 15-min intervals after lockdown were observed in TD and VHS. CONCLUSIONS: There were small differences in the temporal distribution of SPR, ACC and DEC at POST. After the COVID-19 lockdown, soccer players’ higher-intensity running activities were similar to those of games played before the lockdown, but TD and VHS decreased, both considering the entire match and 15-min intervals. The temporal distribution of running activities was mostly stable throughout the season.
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