Influence of team success, fixture congestion and playing position on physical performance of elite youth soccer players during an international tournament


  • Bence Márk Kovács University of Physical Education Ferencvárosi TC, Hungary
  • James Malone Liverpool Hope Univesity, United Kingdom
  • Márton Bognár Ferencvárosi TC, Hungary
  • Péter Bali Ferencvárosi TC, Hungary
  • Gergely Pánics Semmelweis University Ferencvárosi TC, Hungary



GPS, Football, Match play, Position, Time motion analysis


The purpose of the present study was to examine the influence of team success, fixture congestion and playing position on physical performance of elite youth soccer players during an international tournament. Physical match data was collected from 22 matches for U17 soccer players (n = 112) across 12 clubs during the play-off stage of the 2015-2016 Future Talents Cup International tournament. Match data was collected using a GPS device for physical performance measures across different positions, level of team success and during match congestion (MD1, MD 2 and MD3). The top ranked teams produced significantly higher total and low speed running distances compared to bottom ranked teams (p < .05). Players covered significantly more total distance and PlayerLoadTM on MD1 compared to MD2 and MD3 (p < .05). High speed distance output remained unaffected during this period of match congestion. Central defenders were found to have the lowest output across physical performance variables compared to all other positions (p < .05). Wide players (WD and WM) produced the greatest outputs at higher speed distances compared to other positions (p < .05). Therefore, the present study revealed that teams who had higher levels of success produced greater physical outputs compared to those of lower rankings. Match congestion resulted in a reduction in total and lower speed distances covered. Finally, differences in physical demands across playing positions was evident. Coaches should be aware of the implications of fatigue during periods of fixture congestion and the individual positional requirements for youth soccer players.


Download data is not yet available.


Ade, J, Fitzpatrick, J, and Bradley, PS. (2016). High-intensity efforts in elite soccer matches and associated movement patterns, technical skills and tactical actions. Information for position-specific training drills. J Sports Sci 34: 2205–2214.

Al Haddad, H, Simpson, BM, Buchheit, M, Di Salvo, V, and Mendez-Villanueva, A. (2015). Peak match speed and maximal sprinting speed in young soccer players: Effect of age and playing position. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 10: 888–896.

Andrzejewski, M, Pluta, B, and Posiadala, D. (2009). Characteristics of physical loads of young footballers during a Championship match. J Hum Kinet 21: 83–88.

Arruda, AF, Carling, C, Zanetti, V, Aoki, MS, Coutts, AJ, and Moreira, A. (2014). Effects of a Very Congested Match Schedule on Body Load Impacts, Accelerations, and Running Measures in Youth Soccer Players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 10: 248–252.

Aslan, A, Açikada, C, Güvenç, A, Gören, H, Hazir, T, and Özkara, A. (2012). Metabolic demands of match performance in young soccer players. J Sport Sci Med 11: 170–179.

Bangsbo, J. (1994). The physiology of soccer--with special reference to intense intermittent exercise. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl 619: 1–155.

Barnes, C, Archer, D, Hogg, B, Bush, M, and Bradley, P. (2014) The Evolution of Physical and Technical Performance Parameters in the English Premier League. Int J Sports Med 35: 1095–1100.

Barrett, S, Midgley, A, and Lovell, R. (2014). PlayerLoadTM: Reliability, Convergent Validity, and Influence of Unit Position During Treadmill Running. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 9: 945–952.

Barron, DJ, Atkins, S, Edmundson, C, and FewtreIl, D. (2014) Accelerometer derived load according to playing position in competitive youth soccer. Int J Perform Anal Sport 14: 734–743.

Batterham, AM and Hopkins, WG. (2006). Making meaningful inferences about magnitudes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 1: 50–57.

Bradley, PS and Ade, JD. (2018). Are Current Physical Match Performance Metrics in Elite Soccer Fit for Purpose or Is the Adoption of an Integrated Approach Needed? Int J Sports Physiol Perform 13: 656–664.

Brito, Â, Roriz, P, Silva, P, Duarte, R, and Garganta, J. (2017). Effects of pitch surface and playing position on external load activity profiles and technical demands of young soccer players in match play. Int J Perform Anal Sport 17: 902–918.

Buchheit, M, Mendez-Villanueva, A, Simpson, BM, and Bourdon, PC. (2010). Match Running Performance and Fitness in Youth Soccer. Int J Sports Med 31: 818–825.

Carling, C, Le Gall, F, and Dupont, G. (2012). Are Physical Performance and Injury Risk in a Professional Soccer Team in Match-Play Affected Over a Prolonged Period of Fixture Congestion? Int J Sports Med 33: 36–42.

Castellano, J, Blanco-Villaseñor, A, and Álvarez, D. (2011). Contextual variables and time-motion analysis in soccer. Int J Sports Med 32: 415–421.

Cetolin, T, Teixeira, AS, Netto, AS, Haupenthal, A, Nakamura, FY, Guglielmo, LGA, et al. (2019). Training Loads and RSA and Aerobic Performance Changes During the Preseason in Youth Soccer Squads. J Hum Kinet 65: 235–248.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Collet, C. (2013). The possession game? A comparative analysis of ball retention and team success in European and international football, 2007-2010. J Sports Sci 31: 123–36.

Dellal, A, Lago-Peñas, C, Rey, E, Chamari, K, and Orhant, E. (2015). The effects of a congested fixture period on physical performance, technical activity and injury rate during matches in a professional soccer team. Br J Sports Med 49: 390–394.

Di Salvo, V, Gregson, W, Atkinson, G, Tordoff, P, and Drust, B. (2009). Analysis of high intensity activity in premier league soccer. Int J Sports Med 30: 205–212.

Djaoui, L, Wong, DP, Pialoux, V, Hautier, C, Da Dilva, CD, Chamari, K, et al. (2014). Physical activity during a prolonged congested period in a top-class European football team. Asian J Sports Med 5: 47–53.

Faude, O, Koch, T, and Meyer, T. (2012). Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional football. J Sports Sci 30: 625–631.

Goto, H, Morris, JG, and Nevill, ME. (2015). Motion analysis of U11 to U16 elite English Premier League Academy players. J Sports Sci 33: 1248–1258.

Gregson, W, Drust, B, Atkinson, G, and Di Salvo, V. (2010). Match-to-Match Variability of High-Speed Activities in Premier League Soccer. Int J Sports Med 31: 237–242.

Harley, JA, Barnes, CA, Portas, M, Lovell, R, Barrett, S, Paul, D, et al. (2010). Motion analysis of match-play in elite U12 to U16 age-group soccer players. J Sports Sci 28: 1391–1397.

Hunter, F, Bray, J, Towlson, C, Smith, M, Barrett, S, Madden, J, et al. (2015). Individualisation of time-motion analysis: A method comparison and case report series. Int J Sports Med 36: 41–48.

Lago-Peñas, C and Lago-Ballesteros, J. (2011). Game location and team quality effects on performance profiles in professional soccer. J Sport Sci Med 10: 465–471.

Lago, C, Casais, L, Dominguez, E, and Sampaio, J. (2010). The effects of situational variables on distance covered at various speeds in elite soccer. Eur J Sport Sci 10: 103–109.

Malone, JJ, Lovell, R, Varley, MC, and Coutts, AJ. (2017). Unpacking the Black Box: Applications and Considerations for Using GPS Devices in Sport. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 12: S218–S226.

Mendez-Villanueva, A, Buchheit, M, Simpson, B, and Bourdon, PC. (2013). Match play intensity distribution in youth soccer. Int J Sports Med 34: 101–110.

Nicolella, D, Torres-Ronda, L, Saylor, K, and Schelling, X. (2018). Validity and reliability of an accelerometer- based player tracking device. PLoS One 13: 1–13.

Noon, MR, James, RS, Clarke, ND, Akubat, I, and Thake, CD. (2015). Perceptions of well-being and physical performance in English elite youth footballers across a season. J Sports Sci 33: 2106–2115.

Pereira Da Silva, N, Kirkendall, D, and Leite De Barros Neto, T. (2007). Movement patterns in elite Brazilian youth soccer. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 47: 270–275.

Rampinini, E, Impellizzeri, FM, Castagna, C, Coutts, AJ, and Wisløff, U. (2009). Technical performance during soccer matches of the Italian Serie A league: Effect of fatigue and competitive level. J Sci Med Sport 12: 227–233.

Rebelo, A, Brito, J, Seabra, A, Oliveira, J, and Krustrup, P. (2014). Physical match performance of youth football players in relation to physical capacity. Eur J Sport Sci 14: S148–S156.

Roe, G, Darrall-Jones, J, Black, C, Shaw, W, Till, K, and Jones, B. (2017). Validity of 10 HZ GPS and Timing Gates for Assessing Maximum Velocity in Professional Rugby Union Players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 12: 836–839.

Saward, C, Morris, JG, Nevill, ME, Nevill, AM, and Sunderland, C. (2016). Longitudinal development of match-running performance in elite male youth soccer players. Scand J Med Sci Sport 26: 933–942.

Sporis, G, Dujic, I, Trajkovic, N, Milanovic, Z, and Madic, D. (2017). Relationship Between Morphological Characteristics and Match Performance in Junior Soccer Players. Int J Morphol 35: 37–41.

Thornton, HR, Nelson, AR, Delaney, JA, Serpiello, FR, and Duthie, GM. (2018). Inter-unit reliability and effect of data processing methods of global positioning systems. Int J Sports Physiol Perform In Press.

Vaeyens, R, Lenoir, M, Williams, AM, and Philippaerts, RM. (2008). Talent Identification and Development Programmes in Sport: Current models and future directions. Sport Med 38: 703–714.

Varley, MC, Gregson, W, McMillan, K, Bonanno, D, Stafford, K, Modonutti, M, et al. (2017). Physical and technical performance of elite youth soccer players during international tournaments: influence of playing position and team success and opponent quality. Sci Med Footb 1: 18–29.

Varley, MC, Di Salvo, V, Modonutti, M, Gregson, W, and Mendez-Villanueva, A. (2018). The influence of successive matches on match-running performance during an under-23 international soccer tournament: The necessity of individual analysis. J Sports Sci 36: 585–591.

Zanetti, V, Carling, C, Aoki, MS, Bradley, PS, and Moreira, A. (2018). Are There Differences in Elite Youth Soccer Player Work Rate Profiles in Congested vs. Regular Match Schedules? J Strength Cond Res In Press.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Kovács, B. M., Malone, J., Bognár, M., Bali, P., & Pánics, G. (2021). Influence of team success, fixture congestion and playing position on physical performance of elite youth soccer players during an international tournament. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 16(4), 795–808.



Performance Analysis of Sport