Intensity demands and peak performance of elite soccer referees during match play

Farzad Yousefian, Abdullah Zafar, Pedro Peres, João Brito, Bruno Travassos, Pedro Figueiredo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study examined the peak physical and physiological (heart rate) performance intensities andassociated decrements in elite soccer referees during match play. Design: Longitudinal study. Methods: Physical performancevariables and heart rate were analyzed during 457 matches across two seasons. Differences between halves, and the rate ofdecline in peak performance intensities across moving average durations of 1–10 minutes were assessed using linear mixed models and power-law analysis, respectively. Results: Large significant differences were observed between halves for mean total distance, mean velocity, mean heart rate, and percentage of maximal heart rate (p ≤ 0.05; r = 0.51–0.64). Peak intensities (p ≤ 0.05; r = 0.15–0.17) and the rate of decline (p < 0.001; r = 0.17–0.37) were significantly higher in the 2nd half compared to the 1st half, for relative total distance, relative high-intensity running and mean velocity. The rate of decline was significantly greater in the 2nd half than the 1st half for relative distance covered by high-intensity acceleration (>2 m/s–2/min), deceleration (<-2 m/s–2/min), and relative mean heart rate (p < 0.001; r = 0.28–0.61). Elite soccer referees might have experienced transient fatigue during match play, as relative high-intensity running immediately following the most intense 5-minute period significantly declined by 61.2% ( p< 0.001; r = 0.94), and was 16.2% lower than the mean 5-minute period (p < 0.001; r = 0.34). Conclusions: Increased physical and physiological demands during match play, with associated declines in the second half and transient signs of fatigue throughout the match, supports the inclusion of high-intensity interval and endurance training programs to prepare soccer referees for the intensity demands and peak performance outcomes of match play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-62
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Activity profiles
  • Competition
  • Fatigue
  • GPS
  • Match officials
  • Soccer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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