The Influence of Effective Playing Time on Physical Demands of Elite Soccer Players

Carlos Lago-Penas*, Ezequiel Rey, Joaquin Lago-Ballesteros
Department of Sports Sciences, Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain

© 2012 Lago-Penas et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Campus A Xunqueira, s/n (36005) Pontevedra, Spain; Tel: +34986801700; Fax: +34986801701; E-mail:


This paper provides a large-scale study into the motion characteristics of top class soccer players, during match play, according to playing position. 432 top-class outfield soccer players were monitored during the 31 matches of the UEFA EURO 2008 using a computerized match analysis system. Data were analyzed using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a paired sample t-test. Results suggest that midfield players covered a significantly greater total distance than the groups of defenders and forwards did (p < 0.01). Significantly more distance was covered in the first half compared to the second (5136±468 m vs 5063±461, p<0.01). However, this difference may be explained by the fact that the effective playing time of the first half was significantly greater than the corresponding one for the second half of the match (27.4±2.2 min vs. 26.9±2.4 min, p<0.05). The findings suggest that the consideration of the effective playing time provides more precise information about competitive physicals demands.

Keywords: Association football, distance covered, match-analysis, positional role, time-motion analysis, tracking.