The within-match patterns of locomotor efficiency during professional soccer match play: Implications for injury risk?

S. Barrett, A. Midgley, M. Reeves, T. Joel, E. Franklin, R. Heyworth, A. Garrett, R. Lovell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The principle aim of the current study was to examine within-match patterns of locomotor efficiency in professional soccer, determined as the ratio between tri-axial accelerometer data (PlayerLoad™) and locomotor activities. Between match variability and determinants of PlayerLoad™ during match play were also assessed.
A single cohort, observational study.
Tri-axial accelerometer data (PlayerLoad™) was recorded during 86 competitive soccer matches in 63 English championship players (574 match observations). Accelerometer data accumulated (PlayerLoad Vector Magnitude [PL VM]) from the individual-component planes of PlayerLoad™ (anterior–posterior PlayerLoad™ [PL AP], medial–lateral PlayerLoad™ [PL ML] and vertical PlayerLoad™ [PL V]), together with locomotor activity (Total Distance Covered [TDC]) were determined in 15-min segments. Locomotor efficiency was calculated using the ratio of PL VM and TDC (PlayerLoad™ per metre). The proportion of variance explaining the within-match trends in PL VM, PL AP, AP ML, AP v, and TDC was determined owing to matches, individual players, and positional role.
PL VM, PL AP, AP ML, AP v and TDC reduced after the initial 15-min match period ( p = 0.001; η 2 = 0.22–0.43, large effects). PL:TDC increased in the last 15 min of each half ( p = 0.001; η 2 = 0.25, large effect). The variance in PL VM during soccer match-play was explained by individual players (63.9%; p = 0.001) and between-match variation (21.6%; p = 0.001), but not positional role (14.1%; p = 0.364).
Locomotor efficiency is lower during the latter stages of each half of competitive soccer match-play, a trend synonymous with observations of increased injury incidence and fatigue in these periods. Locomotor efficiency may be a valuable metric to identify fatigue and heightened injury risk during soccer training and match-play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-815
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number10
Early online date28 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Accelerometry
  • football
  • injury risk
  • fatigue


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