VO2Max and VO2AT: athletic performance and field role of elite soccer players
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Purpose: Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and oxygen consumption at anaerobic threshold (VO2AT) are commonly measured parameters to test elite soccer players; however, studies relating metabolic parameters of professional soccer players with performance and best fitting to the field role are scarce. Our aim was to study the relations of VO2max and VO2AT with the field role of elite soccer players to generate a robust dataset with a solid statistical analysis. Method: Over a 12-year period we performed 953 field evaluation tests of VO2 max and VO2AT on 450 elite soccer players of 13 professional teams by incremental, continuous and exhausting test modified from Conconi’s test. Statistical analysis was performed by one-way ANOVA followed—when appropriate—by Tukey post hoc test. Effect size was evaluated by the Cohen D test and η partial squared test. Statistical significance was set for p < 0.05. Results: VO2max mean values increased at the beginning of season by 1.073 ± 0.06 respect to pre-season then decreased again up to pre-season levels and remained stable, while VO2AT did not change during time. VO2max differences were also related to players’ field role. VO2max mean value for Goalkeeper was 50.85 ± 4.2, for central Defender was 57.58 ± 4.3, for Winger-sides back was 60.53 ± 5.02, for Midfielder was 59.53 ± 5.08, for Forward was 56.52 ± 4.14. On the contrary, as expected, VO2AT percentage variations among the roles were not significant. Conclusions: VO2max is the choice parameter to consider for the metabolic compliance of athletes to the field role requirements, consequently influencing training programs, recovery and injury prevention strategies.
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