Influence of physical fitness, age, experience, and weekly training load on match performance in elite Australian football

Paul B Gastin, Brendan Fahrner, Denny Meyer, Dean Robinson, Jillianne Leigh Cook

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Season long competition schedules in football create unique challenges for coaches in balancing the requirements of recovery, developing and maintaining physical fitness, and adjusting the training load before each match. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of player characteristics (physical fitness, age, and playing experience) and weekly in-season training load on elite match performance across an Australian football season. Twenty-five players (age: 24.1 - 3.0 years; height: 188.3 - 7.3 cm; weight: 90.4 - 8.3 kg) from one elite team participated in this study. Before the season, player s age, experience, height, and weight along with measures of aerobic (6-minute run) and anaerobic (6 - 40 m repeated sprints) physical fitness were recorded. Individual player training load during the season was measured using global positioning system technology for the main training session of the week. Player match performance was calculated weekly from 33 individual playing statistics. Multilevel modeling was used to investigate the relationship between weekly training load and match performance and to explore the influence of player characteristics on this relationship. Playing experience (p <0.01) and aerobic fitness (p <0.05) displayed positive relationships with performance, whereas player age (p <0.01) showed a negative relationship. Most players coped well with weekly variations in training load; however, the relationship was moderated by the results of the preseason repeated sprint test (p <0.05). The adverse effect on playing performance in selected players after a more intense training session suggests that recovery from the session may be delayed in players who exhibit a better anaerobic fitness profile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272 - 1279
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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