In 2014 Latvian Football Federation (LFF) in cooperation with the clubs of "SMScredit.lv Virsliga" championship carried out a thorough monitoring campaign of players’ physical condition and demands during official matches. The project was carried out by Spaniard Alejandro Muñoz Lopez, who is the fitness coach of Latvian national team.
In February of this year Alejandro Muñoz Lopez together with Dāvis Caune, a domestic fitness coach, presented the results of the monitoring campaign and together with the representatives of Virsliga’s clubs and coaches of Latvian national team discussed the main findings and conclusions.
In Latvian football a study of such in-depth research level has been carried out for the first time, because previously in Virsliga no centralized data of such sort was recorded. In official games of international level any use of electronic devices that contact the player’s body is prohibited by FIFA regulations.
PURPOSE: to analyse the physical demands during official matches in Virsliga to determine the physical condition that Latvian football players must have to could perform with a good level in Virsliga. These results may be used to understand better the training process, adapting loads and efforts according to real demands, player specific position, match moment and formation used.
METHODOLOGY: 7 Virsliga teams participated on the study. In a total of 11 matches from August 2014 to October 2014, each player from each team wore a multi-sensor device (WIMU, Realtrack Systems, Spain) to track the internal and external loads, such as heart rate, distances, accelerations (ACC) and impacts. Averages from full games, halves and quarters (every 15 minutes) were analysed. Each player at the end of the match filled a subjective self-administrated questionnaire. Different comparisons (using substantial effects analysis, Hopkins, W. 2006) and correlations (spearman rho and cross tabs with crammer-V were analysed using all the fitness measures, subjective information from questionnaires and other match descriptive variables.
RESULTS: results are shown as mean ± sd. The average distance running was 9718.3 ± 1882.1 m (115.4 ± 10.2 m/min). From this distance, a total amount of 20 ± 5 % was at high intensity (> 14.1 km/h) while the total number of SPRINTS was 19.3 ± 8.6 (with an average duration of 3.1 ± 0.5 seconds per sprint). The total amount of repeated sprints (RSA) were 4.1 ± 3.7. On the accelerations analysis was also not a notable dropdown between halves, but a huge difference of total ACC and decelerations (DCC) was found (1627.7 ± 383.2 ACC (19.3 ± 3.7 ACC/min) vs 1431.6 ± 338.1 DCC (17.9 ± 3.1 (DCC/min)). A total amount of 825.9 ± 412.4 impacts were found. From this total, 159.2 ± 112.1 were over 7G. The average heart rate during a match was 86.5 ± 4.1 % (% HRmax). In a view of load, it means a total amount of 348.8 ± 74.4 TRIMPS (Edwards), of which high than Zone 4 (> 80% HR max) were 304.3 ± 79.6. All the variables analysed suffered important dropdowns comparing 0-15 min to 75-90 min (> 75%, possible) except DCC, TRIMPS and TRIMPS > z4. When comparing matches on different surfaces (artificial vs natural grass) no significant differences were found. The last month of the league (October) showed the higher fitness measures compared to previous months (September and August). When different formations were analysed, we found that the most intensive formation was 4 - 3 - 3 (114.1 ± 7.3) (4 - 3 - 3 > 4 - 4 - 2 ≈ 4 - 5 - 1). About positions, wingers were who covered more distance (119.5 ± 10.3) and centre defenders who less (106.9 ± 7.1), unlike these ones were who performed more ACC/min (19.9 ± 2.8) and DCC/min (17.7 ± 2.7). The external loads were the variables more suitable to be used to differ playing positions. Correlation analysis showed that players who were on a higher position on the match day (Cramer-V = 0.327 p<0.001) run more distance (m/min).
CONCLUSIONS: This is one of the first studies that use a GPS system to track players performance during official matches on an European domestic league (Virsliga). Virsliga physical demands during official matches were similar to other top European leagues (Di Salvo et al. 2007), despite higher dropdowns along the quarters (Bradley et al. 2010). The results may be used to adapt the training process and loads for a better match performance, although more research is needed as only 11 games were used.
Latvian Footall Federation