Soccer matches have a typical duration of 90 min. However, when matches are drawn in some knockout cup scenarios and an outright winner is required, an additional 30 min period, termed extra-time (ET), is played. The performance and physiological responses to 90 min of soccer-specific exercise have been extensively investigated, however; there is a paucity of research investigating the demands of 120 min of soccer-specific exercise (i.e., matches requiring ET). Accordingly, the aims of this thesis were 1) to elucidate professional practitioner perceptions of ET, 2) to investigate the performance and physiological responses during prolonged actual and simulated match-play, and 3) to examine the influence of a nutritional intervention on performance during ET. To actuate aim one, a qualitative approach (i.e., an online survey) was used to assess practitioner perceptions of ET and their current applied practices. To accomplish aim two, quantitative research projects utilising performance analysis techniques and an analogue of match-play (simulated soccer match) were used. To actuate aim three, the same analogue of match-play was used to investigate the effect of carbohydrate-electrolyte gels ingested prior to ET on performance and physiology. Practitioners generally account for ET when preparing and recovering players and the majority (91%) of practitioners want research to be conducted on ET. Using notational analysis, reductions in technical performance (i.e., passing and dribbling) were observed during ET. Furthermore, when using a simulated match protocol, perturbations in both performance and physiology compared to the previous 90 min of exercise occur. Specifically reductions in both physical (i.e., sprint speeds) and technical (i.e., shooting speed) parameters, taxing of endogenous fuel sources, dehydration, and shifts in substrate utilisation (i.e., a move towards fat oxidation as a fuel source) were observed. The ingestion of carbohydrate-electrolyte gels prior to ET improved dribbling performance, however; this intervention was unable to attenuate decrements in physical performance and hydration status. In conclusion, ET influences both soccer-specific performance and physiological responses. In agreement with practitioners working in professional soccer, more research is required to investigate the efficacy of interventions (particularly hydro-nutritional interventions) that improve performance and ameliorate perturbations in physiology and metabolism.
|Publication status||In preparation - Aug 2016|