Maximum Oxygen Uptake of Male Soccer Players According to their Competitive Level, Playing Position and Age Group: Implication from a Network Meta-Analysis

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Maamer Slimani, Hela Znazen, Bianca Miarka, Nicola Luigi Bragazzi

The aim of the present meta-analysis was to compare the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) characteristics of male soccer players relative to their competitive level, playing position and age group and the interaction between them. The meta-analysis was based on 16 studies, employing 2385 soccer players aged 10–39 years. Higher-level soccer players showed greater (ES = 0.58 [95% CI 0.08-1.08], SE = 0.25, var = 0.06, z = 2.29, p = 0.022) VO2max performance with respect to their lower level counterparts. Furthermore, lower VO2max values in goalkeepers than defenders (ES = 1.31 (SE 0.46) [95% CI 0.41-2.21], var = 0.21, z = 2.84, p = 0.004) and midfielders (ES = 1.37 (SE 0.41) [95% CI 0.58 to 2.17], var = 0.16, z = 3.40, p = 0.001) were found. Thus, VO2max increased significantly with age (all, p < 0.01): Under 10 versus Under 11 years, Under 11 versus Under 12 years, Under 12 versus Under 13 years, Under 13 versus Under 14 years, Under 14 versus Under 15 years and Under 16-18 versus Under 20-23 years. VO2max performance is the most powerful discriminator between higher and lower-level soccer players. These findings indicate also the need for sports scientists and conditioning professionals to take the VO2max performance of soccer players into account when designing individualized position specific training programs.
DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2018-0060
Key words
aerobic performance, age, position, soccer

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