Physical demands of playing position within English Premier League academy soccer


  • Will Abbott Brighton and Hove Albion FC, United Kingdom
  • Gary Brickley University of Brighton, United Kingdom
  • Nicholas J. Smeeton University of Brighton, United Kingdom



Team sports, Competition, GPS, Acceleration, Sprinting


Physical demands of Soccer competition vary between playing positions. Previous research investigated total, and high-speed distances, with limited research into acceleration demands of competition. Research investigating speed and acceleration demands have utilised arbitrary thresholds, overlooking the individual nature of athlete locomotion. The current investigation was the first utilising individual speed and acceleration thresholds, investigating the relative intensity of activities. Relationship between match outcome and physical outputs were also investigated. GPS data from 44 professional matches was collected using 10-Hz GPS and 100-Hz accelerometer devices. 343 observations were divided by playing position, and match result, with differences in GPS metrics analysed. Central midfielders produced the highest total distances, and moderate-intensity acceleration distances (p<0.01). Wide defenders and attackers produced the highest very high-speed running, sprinting, and high-intensity acceleration distances (p<0.01). Central defenders produced the lowest values for all metrics (p<0.01). No significant differences were found between GPS metrics for differing match outcomes (p>0.05). In addition to differing tactical and technical roles, Soccer playing positions have specific physical demands associated. Current results allow overload of individual training intensities relative to competition. No relationships were evident between GPS metrics and match outcome, suggesting Soccer success is the result of superior technical and tactical strategies.


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How to Cite

Abbott, W., Brickley, G., & Smeeton, N. J. (2018). Physical demands of playing position within English Premier League academy soccer. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 13(2), 285–295.



Performance Analysis of Sport