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Brief Report

The Effect of the COVID-19 Lockdown on the Position-Specific Match Running Performance of Professional Football Players; Preliminary Observational Study

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Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, 21000 Split, Croatia
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HNK Hajduk, 21000 Split, Croatia
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Institute for Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Education, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta
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GALENO Research Group, Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, University of Cádiz, Avenida República Saharaui s/n, 11519 Puerto Real, Spain
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Instituto de Investigación e Innovación Biomédica de Cádiz (INiBICA), 11009 Cádiz, Spain
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Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia
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Faculty for Sport and Physical Education, University of Montenegro, 81400 Niksic, Montenegro
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Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Adilson Marques, Hugo Miguel Borges Sarmento, Filipe Manuel Clemente and Tomás Garcia-Calvo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12221; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212221
Received: 9 October 2021 / Revised: 12 November 2021 / Accepted: 18 November 2021 / Published: 21 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Football Science—from Health to Sports Performance)
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted professional football in the 2019/2020 season, and football experts anticipate that the consequences of lockdown measures will negatively affect the physical performance of players once competition restarts. This study aimed to evaluate position-specific match running performance (MRP) to determine the effect of COVID-19 lockdowns on the physical performance of professional football players. Players’ MRPs (n = 124) were observed in matches before and after the COVID-19 lockdown in the 2019/2020 season of the highest level of national competition in Croatia and were classified according to player position: central defenders (CD; n = 42), fullbacks (FB; n = 20), midfielders (MF; n = 46), and forwards (FW; n = 16). The MRPs were measured using Global Positioning System, and included the total distance covered, low-intensity running (≤14.3 km/h), running (14.4–19.7 km/h), high-intensity running (≥19.8 km/h), total accelerations (>0.5 m/s2), high-intensity accelerations (>3 m/s2), total decelerations (less than –0.5 m/s2), and high-intensity decelerations (less than –3 m/s2). The results indicated that, in matches after the COVID-19 lockdown, (i) CDs and FBs featured lower running and high-intensity running (t-value: from 2.05 to 3.51; all p < 0.05; moderate to large effect sizes), (ii) MFs covered a greater distance in low-intensity running and achieved a lower number of total accelerations, and total and high-intensity decelerations (t-value: from –3.54 to 2.46; all p < 0.05, moderate to large effect sizes), and (iii) FWs featured lower high-intensity running (t-value = 2.66, p = 0.02, large effect size). These findings demonstrate that the physical performances of football players from the Croatian first division significantly decreased in matches after the COVID-19 lockdown. A combination of inadequate adaptation to football-specific match demands and a crowded schedule after the competition was restarted most likely resulted in such an effect. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; match running performance; soccer; match demands SARS-CoV-2; match running performance; soccer; match demands
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sekulic, D.; Versic, S.; Decelis, A.; Castro-Piñero, J.; Javorac, D.; Dimitric, G.; Idrizovic, K.; Jukic, I.; Modric, T. The Effect of the COVID-19 Lockdown on the Position-Specific Match Running Performance of Professional Football Players; Preliminary Observational Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 12221. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212221

AMA Style

Sekulic D, Versic S, Decelis A, Castro-Piñero J, Javorac D, Dimitric G, Idrizovic K, Jukic I, Modric T. The Effect of the COVID-19 Lockdown on the Position-Specific Match Running Performance of Professional Football Players; Preliminary Observational Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(22):12221. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212221

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sekulic, Damir, Sime Versic, Andrew Decelis, Jose Castro-Piñero, Dejan Javorac, Goran Dimitric, Kemal Idrizovic, Igor Jukic, and Toni Modric. 2021. "The Effect of the COVID-19 Lockdown on the Position-Specific Match Running Performance of Professional Football Players; Preliminary Observational Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 22: 12221. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212221

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