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How High Speed Running Can Determine Which Level You Play At
Football is a complex game which demands a vast array of movements and components of fitness from it's players in order to be successful. You might be technically brilliant with the ball, but without combining this ability with speed and stamina and strength (for example), a player is unlikely to be able to consistently make their mark on a game.
Research from Bangsbo (2014) shows a very interesting connection specifically between a players ability to perform high speed running and the standard which they are able to play at. The typical distance for a top level outfield player to cover in a match is between 10-13km. And although this distance is mainly made up of walking and low intensity running...
- The periods of high intensity are the most important
- International top class players perform 28% more high intensity running and 58% more sprinting than lower level pros
- A study in the Danish league found that the teams towards the top of the league completed 30-40% more high speed running than mid table and lower table teams
- More high speed running is completed when playing against teams higher up the league than lower down the league
It is important to mention that playing culture, style and tactics has a key part to play in the amount of high speed running which is completed. With players in the English championship regularly completing more high speed running than English Premier league players on average - which is likely to be down to the more direct style of play in the championship, compared to more possession based Premier league sides and not insufficient fitness levels.
Compare this to the top Italian sides who mainly perform high speed running when in possession of the ball and focus on positioning and tactics when out of possession.
To summarise it is safe to say that despite the differences in playing style and even the demands of your position, top level players will always be able to maintain high speed running and outrun players of a amateur/semi-pro/bottom of the league teams, and their ability to do this has a major impact on their level of success.