• Playing exposure does not affect movement characteristics or physiological responses of elite youth footballers during an intensified period of competition.

      Gibson, Neil; McCunn, Robert; MacNay, Sophie; Mullen, Thomas; Twist, Craig; Heriot-Watt University; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-05-08)
      This study investigated the effect of playing time on physiological and perceptual responses to six, 60 min matches played over five days. Thirty youth football players (age = 14.1 ± 0.4 years; body mass = 57.4 ± 12.9 kg; stature 169.3 ± 7.7 cm) were grouped into low (<250 min; LPG, n = 18) and high (≥250 min; HPG, n = 12) match exposure groups and monitored daily for lower body power and perceived wellness. GPS technology was used to assess match running demands in total distance (m•min-1), low (<13 km•h-1) and high (≥13 km•h-1) speed running categories. Hypothesis based testing and effect sizes (ES) were used to analyse data. The HPG performed moderately more total distance (103.7 ± 10.4 cf. 90.2 ± 19.7 m•min-1, P = 0.03; ES=0.74 ± 0.63) and high speed running (26.7 ± 6.6 cf. 20.3 ± 6.5 m•min-1, P = 0.01; ES=0.87 ± 0.6) than the LPG across all six matches. Differences of a small magnitude were observed between groups for lower body power (P = 0.08; ES =0.59 ± 0.8) and perceived wellness (P = 0.09; ES=0.42 ± 0.4) which were both higher in the HPG. Youth football players appear well equipped to deal with intensified period of competition, such as those experienced in tournaments, irrespective of match exposure.