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GPS and Injury Prevention in Professional Soccer

Ehrmann, Fabian E.1; Duncan, Craig S.2; Sindhusake, Doungkamol3; Franzsen, William N.4; Greene, David A.1

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: February 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 360–367
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001093
Original Research

Ehrmann, FE, Duncan, CS, Sindhusake, D, Franzsen, WN, and Greene, DA. GPS and injury prevention in professional soccer. J Strength Cond Res 30(2): 360–367, 2016—This study investigated the relationship between GPS variables measured in training and gameplay and injury occurrences in professional soccer. Nineteen professional soccer players competing in the Australian Hyundai A-League were monitored for 1 entire season using 5 Hz Global Positioning System (GPS) units (SPI-Pro GPSports) in training sessions and preseason games. The measurements obtained were total distance, high-intensity running distance, very–high-intensity running distance, new body load, and meters per minute. Noncontact soft tissue injuries were documented throughout the season. Players' seasons were averaged over 1- and 4-week blocks according to when injuries occurred. These blocks were compared with each other and with players' seasonal averages. Players performed significantly higher meters per minute in the weeks preceding an injury compared with their seasonal averages (+9.6 and +7.4% for 1- and 4-week blocks, respectively) (p < 0.01), indicating an increase in training and gameplay intensity leading up to injuries. Furthermore, injury blocks showed significantly lower average new body load compared with seasonal averages (−15.4 and −9.0% for 1- and 4-week blocks, respectively) (p < 0.01 and p = 0.01). Periods of relative underpreparedness could potentially leave players unable to cope with intense bouts of high-intensity efforts during competitive matches. Although limited by Fédération Internationale de Football Association regulations, the results of this study isolated 2 variables predicting soft tissue injuries for coaches and sports scientists to consider when planning and monitoring training.

1Department of Health Science, School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia;

2Football Federation Australia, Sydney, Australia;

3Medical Imaging, School of Medicine, The University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia; and

4Department of Education and Arts, School of Arts, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia

Address correspondence to Fabian E. Ehrmann, fabian.ehrmann@acu.edu.au.

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.