Altitude, soccer, high intensity running


Competition often requires teams that reside at sea level to compete against opponents whose residence is at a moderate altitude. This may pose a potential competitive disadvantage considering that moderate altitude may cause decrements in VO2max, distance covered, and time to exhaustion in endurance athletes. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of altitude on game performance measures. Six NCAA Division I female soccer players (20.33 ± 1.21 y; 168 ± 6.45 cm; 62.5 ± 6.03 kg) were retrospectively examined. Comparisons were made between two competitions that were played at sea level (SL) within two weeks of a game played at a moderate altitude (1840 m) on game characteristics including high intensity running (HIR) and total distance covered (TDC). Analysis was performed on these six players who met a threshold of playing sixty or more minutes in each competition. A 10-Hz global positioning system (GPS) was used to measure distance and velocity. The rate of TDC and HIR during the game (m?min-1) and percentage of time at HIR during competition were evaluated. The two games at SL were averaged to establish baseline performance and the mean results were compared with the single game played at altitude. Paired samples t-tests were performed to determine if any mean differences existed between performance at altitude and sea level. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were seen in minutes played between the games at SL (74.23 ± 2.93 min) versus altitude (83.24 ± 5.27 min). The relative distance rate during the game at altitude was lower at altitude (105.77 ± 10.19 m?min-1) than at SL (120.55 ± 8.26 m?min-1). HIR rate was greater at SL (27.65 ± 9.25 m?min-1) compared to altitude (25.07 ± 7.66 m?min-1). The percent of time spent at high intensity was not significantly different (p = 0.064), yet tended to be greater at sea level (10.4 ± 3.3%) than when they performed at altitude (9.1 ±2.2%). Soccer performance at a moderate altitude appears to reduce the rate at which players run throughout the competition, as well as their rate at a high intensity. Results suggest that teams that reside at SL may be at a competitive disadvantage when competing at altitude.


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Graduation Date





Hoffman, Jay


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Child, Family, and Community Sciences

Degree Program

Sport and Exercise Science; Applied Exercise Physiology








Release Date

May 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic