Characterization of the Weekly External Load Profile of Professional Soccer Teams From Portugal and the Netherlands

The purpose of this study was to analyze the day-to-day variance of a typical weekly external training workload of two professional soccer teams from different countries. Twenty-nine players from two professional teams from Portugal and the Netherlands participated in this study. The players' external load was monitored for 7 weeks, by means of portable GPS devices (10 Hz, JOHAN, Noordwijk, Netherlands). Results revealed that match day-1 (MD-1), i.e. the training day before a match, had significantly (p = 0.001) less training volume (4584.50 m) than the other days. MD-5 (training five days before a match), MD-4 (four days before a match) and MD-3 (three days before a match) were the most intense (390.83, 176.90 and 247.32 m of sprinting distance, respectively) and with large volume (7062.66, 6077.30 and 6919.49 m, respectively). Interestingly, significant differences were found between clubs of different countries (p < 0.05) with the Portuguese team showing significantly higher intensity (sprinting distance) and volume (total distance) in all days with exception of MD-1 than the Dutch team. The results of this study possibly allow for the identification of different training workloads and tapering strategies between countries in relation to volume and intensity. It should be noted, however, that both clubs used a significant tapering phase in the last two days before the competition in an attempt to reduce residual fatigue accumulation.

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