Harper, Liam D., West, Daniel J., Stevenson, Emma and Russell, Mark (2014) Technical Performance Reduces during the Extra-Time Period of Professional Soccer Match-Play. PLoS ONE, 9 (10). e110995. ISSN 1932-6203

Despite the importance of extra-time in determining progression in specific soccer tournament matches, few studies have profiled the demands of 120-minutes of soccer match-play. With a specific focus on the extra-time period, and using a within-match approach, we examined the influence of prolonged durations of professional soccer match-play on markers of technical (i.e., skilled) performance. In 18 matches involving professional European teams played between 2010 and 2014, this retrospective study quantified the technical actions observed during eight 15-minute epochs (E1: 00:00–14:59 min, E2: 15:00-29:59 min, E3: 30:00-44:59 min, E4: 45:00-59:59 min, E5: 60:00-74:59 min, E6: 75:00-89:59 min, E7: 90:00-104:59 min, E8: 105:00-119:59 min). Analysis of players who completed the demands of the full 120 min of match-play revealed that the cumulative number of successful passes observed during E8 (61±23) was lower than E1-4 (E1: 88±23, P=0.001; E2: 77±21, P=0.005; E3: 79±18, P=0.001; E4: 80±21, P=0.001) and E7 (73±20, P=0.002). Similarly, the total number of passes made in E8 (71±25) was reduced when compared to E1 (102±22, P=0.001), E3 (91±19, P=0.002), E4 (93±22, P≤0.0005) and E7 (84±20, P=0.001). The cumulative number of successful dribbles reduced in E8 (9±4) when compared to E1 (14±4, P=0.001) and E3 (12±4, P≤0.0005) and the total time the ball was in play was less in E8 (504±61 s) compared to E1 (598±70 s, P≤0.0005). These results demonstrate that match-specific factors reduced particular indices of technical performance in the second half of extra-time. Interventions that seek to maintain skilled performance throughout extra-time warrant further investigation.

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