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Article

Performance of Professional Soccer Players before and after COVID-19 Infection; Observational Study with an Emphasis on Graduated Return to Play

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Teaching Institute of Public Health of Split Dalmatian County, 21000 Split, Croatia
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Department of Health Studies, University of Split, 21000 Split, Croatia
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Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, 21000 Split, Croatia
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HNK Hajduk Split, 21000 Split, Croatia
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Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta
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Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, University Hospital Split, Surgery Clinic, 21000 Split, Croatia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11688; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111688
Received: 7 October 2021 / Revised: 1 November 2021 / Accepted: 5 November 2021 / Published: 7 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicine in Sports and Exercise)
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in sport has been the subject of numerous studies over the past two years. However, knowledge about the direct impact of COVID-19 infection on the performance of athletes is limited, and the importance of studies on this topic is crucial during the current pandemic era. This study aimed to evaluate the changes in the match running performance (MRP) of professional soccer players that occurred as a result of COVID-19 infection after fulfilling all of the prerequisites for a safe return to play (RTP). The participants were 47 professional soccer players from a team which competed in first Croatian division (21.6 years old on average) during the 2020/21 season. The total sample was divided into two subgroups based on the results of a PCR test for COVID-19, where 31 players tested positive (infected) and 16 tested negative. We observed the PCR test results (positive vs. negative PCR), the number of days needed to return to the team, number of days needed to RTP after quarantine and isolation, and MRP (10 variables measured by a global positioning system). The number of days where the infected players were not included in the team ranged from 7 to 51 (Median: 12). Significant pre- to post-COVID differences in MRP for infected players were only found for high-intensity accelerations and high-intensity decelerations (t-test = 2.11 and 2.13, respectively; p < 0.05, moderate effect size differences), with poorer performance in the post-COVID period. Since a decrease of the MRP as a result of COVID-19 infection was only noted in two variables, we can highlight appropriateness of the applied RTP. However, further adaptations and improvements of the RTP are needed with regard to high-intensity activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; prevalence; football; performance; global positions system SARS-CoV-2; prevalence; football; performance; global positions system
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MDPI and ACS Style

Savicevic, A.J.; Nincevic, J.; Versic, S.; Cuschieri, S.; Bandalovic, A.; Turic, A.; Becir, B.; Modric, T.; Sekulic, D. Performance of Professional Soccer Players before and after COVID-19 Infection; Observational Study with an Emphasis on Graduated Return to Play. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11688. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111688

AMA Style

Savicevic AJ, Nincevic J, Versic S, Cuschieri S, Bandalovic A, Turic A, Becir B, Modric T, Sekulic D. Performance of Professional Soccer Players before and after COVID-19 Infection; Observational Study with an Emphasis on Graduated Return to Play. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(21):11688. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111688

Chicago/Turabian Style

Savicevic, Anamarija Jurcev, Jasna Nincevic, Sime Versic, Sarah Cuschieri, Ante Bandalovic, Ante Turic, Boris Becir, Toni Modric, and Damir Sekulic. 2021. "Performance of Professional Soccer Players before and after COVID-19 Infection; Observational Study with an Emphasis on Graduated Return to Play" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 21: 11688. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111688

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