Keeping up the pace

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Keeping up the pace

Let’s imagine that you are analyzing the match performance of your team. You notice that your team is always pushed back in the last minutes of both halves. When analyzing the match report, you see the same trend: the workload declines across both halves and throughout the whole match. Based on this example, there may be a new training goal: reducing the decline in workload throughout the match. But how do you decide whether your team shows too much decline? And how do you reduce this decline? In this blog we will provide some guidelines to answer these questions.

Before we are going to determine in what cases you might decide to set training goals for reducing the decline, we need to know more about the circumstances that cause a decline. A decline in workload means that the players cannot fully recover in between (explosive) actions or sprints. When this process of incomplete recovery is repeated over and over in a match, the players are getting more fatigued throughout the match, in turn, limiting the amount of workload that they can perform at the end of the match. Therefore, if you set a new training goal for reducing the decline in the match, you are trying to improve the recovery of the players in between their repeated explosive actions (i.e. improving endurance capacity).  

Figure 1: Workload decline throughout the match (from advanced match report)

When looking at whether it is important to reduce the decline in workload throughout the match, it should be noted that a decline in load happens for all teams. This decline is a sign that the team is performing at their maximum. But how do you know your team shows a reduction in workload too early in the game or with a faster rate than the other team? Fortunately, the 5-min power output graph of the advanced match report has a tool for this (see figure 1). In this graph, there is a horizontal (light) green bar, which represents the power that your team should deliver throughout the match. If your team drops below this threshold in the 55thof 65thminute, this means that your team shows a decline too early in the game. A second method to check whether the decline of your team is not too much, is to see the decline of your team over time (see Figure 2). If you notice that the decline increases in the last 4 matches (i.e. the decline becomes more negative; see figure 2), this should warn you that the endurance capacity of your team is deteriorating.

Figure 2: The increase in decline in the last 4 matches should warn you that the endurance capacity of your players is decreasing

Now that we have seen how you can check whether your team does not show to much decline in a match, it is important to see how we can reduce this decline. As described above, improving the endurance capacityof your team is the key to reduce this decline. Improving the endurance capacity of your players requires exercises with a high intensity (e.g. >80% maximal heart rate) with short rest periods in between. Therefore, high-intensity interval training (e.g. 4 x 4min running at 12-14km/h with 3 min rest in between), can be used to improve endurance. However, since these are not very sport-specific exercises, the game formats in Table 1 are also suitable for improving the endurance capacity. For which the work periods of the game formats should be longer than the rest periods in between (e.g. 4 x 4 min with 2-3 min recover). 

Table 1: Game formats which are suitable for improving endurance capacity

Conclusion

All teams show a decline in workload throughout the match. However, your team may show a decline earlier in the game or with a faster rate than the other teams. With the Advanced Match Report you can check whether your team shows a decline too early in the game (Figure 1), or whether the decline is getting worse over time (Figure 2). If this is the case, you can reduce this decline by improving the endurance capacity of your players. By doing so, your team might go from losing the match in the last minutes towards making the difference in the last minutes!