Player X, Oh How They Run!

July 25th 2019

The follow is an opinion piece by Ed Shone, TTi Sports Scientist.

In modern youth soccer, it is not uncommon for teams to find themselves in situations where they must fulfill two game fixtures in one weekend.  With the extended travel distances in the market, if a team must fly to a game then the schedule will often have two games to play to “save on multiple trips” and the costs associated with it.

In the spring 2019 Season, TTi Member (Player X) was able to wear one of our PlayertekGPS vests in order to track the volume (amount) and intensity of physical work that a player typically gets through. 

Player X spent most of their time in the middle of the field, covering 5.13 miles in the game, averaging 72.49m for every minute of their game. This causes moments for consideration, when the average Premier League midfielder runs 6.46 miles per game.

In addition, they sprinted a total of 448m, the approximate equivalent of sprinting 4.5 field lengths.

One area that must be taken into consideration when looking into data such as this is the context of the game.  Whilst we can extrapolate pure numbers, the tactical considerations of the team (are they a team that presses or sits back for instance) and the type of game (are they in possession a lot or being made to defend) at any moment often dictate the type of information generated.  

Simply having a greater distance covered is neither good or bad!

Its important to also note that young players are not “mini adults”, the stresses of games affects youth players in different ways;  if player X played 30 games in a season, they would cover 153.9 miles just in games, the equivalent of nearly 6 marathons. Given that adults often train for months to complete one marathon, asking youth players to play this many matches, on the surface, seems excessive. 

It is important that youth players are able to “just be kids”; fostering a desire to WANT to play by themselves, not because they feel they HAVE too.

It is important to highlight the perhaps “hidden” physical cost of playing in youth soccer.  Playing games is what every player wants to do, but MORE games is not always the answer. 

Lee Cullip