n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Positional assessment and physical fitness characteristics of male professional soccer players in South Africa science - : sport science

Volume 13, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The purpose of this study was to describe the physical fitness of professional soccer players in South Africa and assess the difference in fitness status between different playing positions. Professional soccer players ( = 140) from various clubs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in South Africa underwent a battery of tests assessing key physiological components during the first half of their competitive season. Players were separated into one of four primary playing positions (goalkeepers, GK, n = 16; defenders, DEF, n = 48; midfielders, MID, n = 46; forwards, FWD, n = 30) on the basis of their playing position and designated role within the team. Descriptive statistics (mean ± SD) were calculated for the entire group and each position, and a one-way ANOVA was used to compare the positions for each of the physical tests. No differences were found between positions in age, flexibility, absolute vertical jump height, strength-endurance, acceleration and speed, or agility. GK were significantly ( < 0.05) heavier, taller and carried more body fat than all other positions. GK also had better vertical jump relative power outputs, but lower aerobic power (VOmax) and repeat sprint performances than all outfield positions. MID were significantly lighter than DEF and significantly shorter than DEF and FWD. No differences in power, speed, agility, VOmax and repeat sprint performance were evident between outfield playing positions. Although the anthropometric differences in playing positions found here are similar to those reported elsewhere, outfield players were not different in fitness performance. The modern game may require above-average performance on a variety of physical components from all positions for successful soccer performance.

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