External load differences between elite youth and professional football players: ready for take-off?

Kobe C. Houtmeyers*, Arne Jaspers, Michel S. Brink, Jos Vanrenterghem, Matthew C. Varley, Werner F. Helsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study examines differences in weekly load between the first (FT) and the under 19 team (U19) within a professional football setting. Data were collected in 11 FT and 9 U19 players (2016-2017 season). FT data was divided into weeks with (FT-M1) or without (FT-M0) a mid-week match. Indicators were total distance (TD) and TD at 12-15, 15-20, 20-25 and >25 km‧h-1 and were analysed as external load (m), intensity (m‧min-1) and load monotony (a.u.). TD-based load was higher for U19 compared to FT-M0 (very likely moderate) and FT-M1 (likely large). Differences at higher velocities were substantially less (trivial to possibly small), with TD >25 km‧h-1 being lower than FT-M0 (very likely moderate) and FT-M1 (likely small). All intensity indicators were lower for U19 (likely small to almost certainly large). Load monotony was higher compared to FT-M1 (possibly small to almost certainly very large). Compared to FT-M0, monotony was higher for TD (possibly very large) and TD >25 km‧h‑1 (possibly moderate) but lower for TD 12-15 (possibly small) and 15-20 km‧h‑1 (likely moderate). So, despite higher weekly external loads at low velocity for elite youth players, external intensity and load variation increases when these players may transition to professional football. .

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalScience and Medicine in Football
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2-Jan-2021


  • Load monitoring
  • intensity
  • match congestion
  • monotony
  • player development

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