The effect of a cold environment on physical activity profiles in elite soccer match-play

Carling, C. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7456-3493, Dupont, G., and Le Gall, F. (2011) The effect of a cold environment on physical activity profiles in elite soccer match-play. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 32 (7). pp. 542-545. ISSN 0172-4622

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In this study, the effect of cold temperature on the physical activity profiles of professional soccer players in official match-play was investigated. Computerised motion-analysis was used to analyse performance in 9 players (4 defenders and 5 midfielders) in four temperature ranges: ≤5°C (29 matches), 6-10°C (62 matches), 11-20°C (48 matches) and ≥21°C (27 matches). Performance was analysed per minute for total distance covered and distance run in three categories: 0.0-14.3 km/h (walking/low/moderate); 14.4-19.7 km/h (running); ≥19.8 km/h (high-intensity). Results showed that while total distance run per minute was unaffected in colder conditions, midfielders ran significantly shorter distances in warmer temperatures: ≥21°C = 118.7±6.9m versus ≤5°C = 124.2±7.1m, p<0.01; 6-10°C = 123.6±6.8m, p<0.01; and, 11-20°C = 123.4±5.4, p<0.05). The total distance covered at three intensities and across halves was unaffected by temperature. Similarly, high-intensity efforts across match halves and in the first and final 5-minute periods in each half of normal time were unaffected by temperature. In contrast, high-intensity efforts in midfielders across 15-minute intervals were affected by temperature with greater distances covered per minute in the 30-45 minute period in matches played in temperatures ≤5°C versus the corresponding period in those played in temperatures ≥21°C (9.1±3.8m versus 6.2±3.0m, p<0.05). The present findings generally suggest that physical performance in professional soccer does not decrease in cold temperatures.

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