Soccer Physiology – is this information correct? : AdvancedFitness


I am a soccer coach who is trying to gain a better understanding of the physiology of soccer. I am currently reading a book by a soccer coach/fitness coach Raymond Verheijen ‘Football Periodisation’. There is a chapter dedicated to physiology.

I have a few questions but first I would like to know if this description of soccer physiology is correct. Some of the things don’t seem correct to me but I’m not confident in my knowledge

Here are some notes from this book. Apologies for the wall of text. I hope someone has the patience to read through it 🙂

Football Physiology

  • ATP is the fuel used to perform football actions

  • More ATP is required for more explosive actions

  • ATP is produced in the muscles via conversion from carbs/fats using oxygen

  • Oxygen is breathed into the lungs, blood flows through the lungs, picks up the oxygen, oxygenated blood flows out to the muscles where carbs/fats are stored, oxygen is used in the burning process to convert fats/carbs to ATP. The quicker the heart beats the faster the blood flows.

  • In soccer, the amount of fuel needed fluctuates. ATP required can increase rapidly in a very short amount of time

  • Standing still requires a small amount of ATP for physiological processes, therefore a small amount of oxygen is needed.

  • As intensity of activity increases more ATP is needed so more carbs/fats are needed which requires more oxygen which requires a quicker breathing rate and heart rate

  • The oxygen system is too slow to support the demands for explosive actions

  • When a player goes from standing still to sprinting the ATP demands increase dramatically. Breathing rate and heart rate cannot increase quickly enough. This is called an oxygen debt. The oxygen system is too slow to supply enough oxygen to produce ATP

  • Muscles contain an ATP storage called the Phosphate System

  • Explosive actions borrow from this system and it provides energy for high intensity activity for 6-10s

  • Once the Phosphate system has been depleted the body has another energy source. The Lactic Acid system which can provide energy for 1-3 minutes of high intensity activity. A by product of borrowing from this system is the build up lactic acid in the muscle

  • At the end of the action the breathing rate and heart rate increase, the stores are replenished and the debt is paid back

  • To observe if a player is recovered fully and replenished the phosphate system, check his breathing rate has returned to normal where no extra oxygen is needed.

  • Less fit players perform less actions per minute because they need more time to replenish their stores

There are 4 soccer fitness elements according to Verheijen:

  • 1.A better soccer action = a more explosive action = more ATP used. To do this, train football sprints with maximal rest. Maximum rest allows full recovery between reps allowing maximal effort every repetition

  • 2.More football actions per minuted = quicker recovery between actions = quicker restoration of the phosphate system. To do this use Small Sided Games to force players to use more actions per minute than normal sided games. Players have less time between actions to refill ATP stores. At some point the phosphate system will become depleted and the player will use the Lactic Acid system. To protect itself the body will adapt and restore the phosphate system quicker

  • 3.Maintain Better Actions = Maintain more explosive actions = maintain ability to use more ATP by increasing the size of the ATP store in the muscle. The phosphate system must have the capacity to avoid depletion. A bigger phosphate system reduces chance of emptying and the body using the lactic acid system. Football sprints win minimum rest overloads the players ability to maintain maximum explosive actions. The phosphate system quickly becomes depleted, lactic acid starts to build up. To protect itself the body will enlarge the phosphate system. The decline in explosiveness will be less next time

  • 4.Maintain More Actions per minute = Maintain quicker recovery between actions = maintain quicker restoration of the phosphate system. At the end of games, quality and quantity of actions drops. Players make fewer actions per minute. The fitness aim is to maintain quicker recovery between actions by maintaining the ability to restore the phosphate system quickly. The limiting factor is the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Waste products build up affecting the delivery of oxygen and the supply decreases resulting in less ATP being produced. The aim is to improve oxygen supply to the muscles later in the game. This is done in 4 ways: increase lung capacity so more oxygen can be transported by the blood, increase the amount of red blood cells so there is more storage in the blood for the oxygen, increase strength of heart to pump the blood faster and increase strength and amount of blood vessels. Also increasing carb stores so more carbs are available to be converted to ATP and improving fluid balance so blood can move efficiently will help