Goodall, Stuart, Thomas, Kevin, Harper, Liam D., Hunter, Robert, Parker, Paul, Stevenson, Emma, West, Daniel, Russell, Mark and Howatson, Glyn (2017) The assessment of neuromuscular fatigue during 120 min of simulated soccer exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology. ISSN 1439-6327


This investigation examined the development of neuromuscular fatigue during a simulated soccer match incorporating a period of extra time (ET) and the reliability of these responses on repeated test occasions.


Ten male amateur football players completed a 120 min soccer match simulation (SMS). Before, at half time (HT), full time (FT), and following a period of ET, twitch responses to supramaximal femoral nerve and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were obtained from the knee-extensors to measure neuromuscular fatigue. Within 7 days of the first SMS, a second 120 min SMS was performed by eight of the original ten participants to assess the reliability of the fatigue response.


At HT, FT, and ET, reductions in maximal voluntary force (MVC; −11, −20 and −27%, respectively, P ≤ 0.01), potentiated twitch force (−15, −23 and −23%, respectively, P < 0.05), voluntary activation (FT, −15 and ET, −18%, P ≤ 0.01), and voluntary activation measured with TMS (−11, −15 and −17%, respectively, P ≤ 0.01) were evident. The fatigue response was robust across both trials; the change in MVC at each time point demonstrated a good level of reliability (CV range 6–11%; ICC2,1 0.83–0.94), whilst the responses identified with motor nerve stimulation showed a moderate level of reliability (CV range 5–18%; ICC2,1 0.63–0.89) and the data obtained with motor cortex stimulation showed an excellent level of reliability (CV range 3–6%; ICC2,1 0.90–0.98).


Simulated soccer exercise induces a significant level of fatigue, which is consistent on repeat tests, and involves both central and peripheral mechanisms.

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