The Fitness and Endurance Levels of Professional Footballers

Of all sports players there is no one with higher resources of stamina than a professional footballer. The players have to be able to maintain running at full speed for at least 90 minutes. The players split this up with natural breaks such as when there is a thrown in, a corner kick, a goal kick or even a goal. The higher the standard of football the professional plays the quicker the game becomes. Advances in sports science has led to much progress in monitoring and also improving player’s fitness levels, and this is reflected with the investment the top clubs have made into their training complexes.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – no player runs more

One of the most interesting aspects of the effects of the fitness levels of a footballer player is that all of them have the same body shape. Take height out of the equation, and then the shape of their bodies is tailor made for the physical demands that the games requires from the players. They need three types of fitness to succeed at this level. They need high levels in aerobic, anaerobic immediate and anaerobic lactate fitness.

The aerobic fitness level is how far a player can cover in a particular time. The anaerobic immediate fitness level is the amount of explosive power a player has when performing sprints or leaps. The Anaerobic lactate is ability of the player to keep repeating the explosive actions by shifting lactic acid from the muscles.

The top professionals run between 11 and 13 km in a game of football. These runs however are produced with a series of different sprints. There are different intensities and distances involved but the players need to cover the ground as quickly as possible. Each player’s work rate is recorded during a match and even in a season. In the 2016/2017 season the player who ran the most miles was Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson who ran 255 miles during the season. Just behind him was Christian Eriksen of Spurs who ran 253 miles, and Sam Clukas of Hull who ran 247 miles. James Milner was next in 4th place but in the same season no player ran further in one game than Milner did in the game for Manchester City against Stoke City in which he covered 13.56km.

James Milner celebrating his goal against Stoke and the 13.56km he ran

Distances covered are going to be slightly different depending on a player’s position. Generally speaking the midfield players will run the furthest distances with the defenders and attackers displaying more sudden bursts of energy. With this in mind Gay Cahill’s achievement of being 10th on the list of miles covered in the 2017 season was an impressive one. The Chelsea captain ran 230 miles in their title winning season. Harry Kane the Tottenham strike was equally impressive in the game against Swansea as he ran 13.13km to finish 9th in the distances covered in one game. No sport has their athletes equally adept in combining the three factors of fitness as illustrated by Kane’s performance against “the Swans”.

The professional footballers are world class performers in all three of the energy systems. They train for all of the areas by the same concept of overload and progression with pre-season training being a major time when they are worked on. There can be few sports that can have greater claims than football to produce the all-round fittest athletes. The endurance levels achieved are at a limit that few other sporting activities will match.

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