Background: In professional soccer, a significant amount of training time is used to improve players' aerobic capacity. However, it is not known whether soccer specific training fulfils the criterion of effective endurance training to improve maximal oxygen uptake, namely an exercise intensity of 90–95% of maximal heart rate in periods of three to eight minutes.
Objective: To determine whether ball dribbling and small group play are appropriate activities for interval training, and whether heart rate in soccer specific training is a valid measure of actual work intensity.
Methods: Six well trained first division soccer players took part in the study. To test whether soccer specific training was effective interval training, players ran in a specially designed dribbling track, as well as participating in small group play (five a side). Laboratory tests were carried out to establish the relation between heart rate and oxygen uptake while running on a treadmill. Corresponding measurements were made on the soccer field using a portable system for measuring oxygen uptake.
Results: Exercise intensity during small group play was 91.3% of maximal heart rate or 84.5% of maximal oxygen uptake. Corresponding values using a dribbling track were 93.5% and 91.7%. No higher heart rate was observed during soccer training.
Conclusions: Soccer specific exercise using ball dribbling or small group play may be performed as aerobic interval training. Heart rate monitoring during soccer specific exercise is a valid indicator of actual exercise intensity.
- anaerobic threshold
- work economy
- soccer performance
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