FIFA World Cup Conditioning

With the FIFA World Cup drawing near to its grand finale this Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few facts about soccer players and their conditioning. It’s not all about looking good with their shirts off. It has long been said that they are great at putting on a show with all the diving and rolling around on the floor that you see during each game. Despite that, they are incredibly well conditioned athletes, so much so that some people would go as far as to say that on the elite stage they are probably at the top of the list.

Few sports are played on as large a playing field, lasting as long and without regular rest periods. Players cover 5-7.5miles during a match, consisting of 24% walking, 36% jogging, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backwards and 2% moving whilst in possession of the ball. The game is played at an average intensity close to the lactate threshold – approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate. Soccer players posses excellent endurance with VO2 max(is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual) reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers. To help you better understand what that means, here is an example, for a male age 30-39, an excellent VO2 max is 35.7 – 40.0 ml/kg/min and for a male age 20-29 an excellent VO2 max is 37.0 – 41.0 ml/kg/min .  Lance Armstrong’s VO2 max has been measured at a whopping 84 ml/kg/min, more than twice that of an individual male in the above normal category. Based on that evidence it is not hard to see how you can come to that conclusion. This Sunday will showcase some of the best talent the world of soccer has to offer and I have no doubt that every player that takes the pitch will exceed his physical limitations to ensure their team goes home for the first time with the title World Champions.

I hope this gives you a little more insight in to exactly what these athletes are capable of and that the FIFA World Cup that has captivated the world over the last few weeks has showcased amazing athletes with extraordinary talents both in their conditioning and their control of the Jabulani soccer ball.


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