J29 Analysis of external load in professional English Football League Two players


  • Ryan Lally University Academy 92
  • Mitchell Finlay University Academy 92




Previous research has utilised Global Positioning Systems (GPS) based technology to provide detailed insights on activity profiles and external demands of professional football. However, there remains minimal research exploring this in the English Football League (EFL), in particular, League Two. Considering differences such as a unique fixture frequency and congestion, and its impact of training occurrence, a study on the external physical loading of EFL League Two players is necessary. Furthermore, analysis of positional differences due to the varied activity profiles is warranted. Therefore, the aims of the current study were to explore the difference in the external demands across training mesocycles, and differences between four-, three-, or two-day training weeks. Additionally, positional differences in external demands in competitive fixtures were explored. Twenty, male, professional soccer players from the EFL League Two (27 ± 6 years, mass 81 ± 8 kg, stature 181 ± 8 cm) were monitored across 41 competitive matches during the 2023-24 season. Players were grouped into the following positional categories central defender (n=3); wide defender (n=4); central midfielder (n=5); wide midfielder (n=5) and striker (n=3). The ethics committee of the sport department at University Academy 92 approved this study. A GPS system (Apex, STATSports, Northern Ireland) was used to quantify external load data from training and match day (MD) across 5 mesocycles of the season. Total distance ranged from 92.1 ± 6.5 m·min-1 to 106.2 ± 8.7 m·min-1 and 44.0 ± 2.0 m·min-1 to 56.8 ± 4.9 m·min-1 across mesocycles in matches and training, respectively. Likewise, High-Speed Running also varied across mesocycles, ranging from 5.6 ± 1.9 m·min-1 to 6.7 ± 1.0 m·min-1 and 0.9 ± 0.3 m·min-1 to 1.3 ± 0.4 m·min-1 in matches and training, respectively. Significant differences (p < 0.05) in several external load variables were evident between four-, three-, or two-day training weeks. When analysing positional differences in matches, the CM achieved the greatest total distance (106.3 ± 17.6 m·min-1), with WM exhibiting the greatest amount of distance at high speed (7.9 ± 2.1 m·min-1) and total accelerations and decelerations (1.9 ± 0.3 ·min2; 1.0 ± 0.3 ·min2). Consequently, results from this research should allow practitioners to physically prepare players optimally in preparation for MD. In conclusion, this study highlighted that external match load performance was influenced by players' positions. Moreover, the consideration of training days in preparation for a fixture, might allow players to be in optimum physical capacity for MD.