Maximum Acceleration And Deceleration's Significance for an Athletes' Physical Development


The STATSports Accelerations and Decelerations are a simple count of how many times you accelerated over 3m/s². So, in short think of those short, sharp, explosive bursts to beat your opponent to the ball or quickly putting on the brakes to change direction.

High-intensity accelerations and decelerations (≥3 m.s-²) are extremely common in field based sports with reports of up to 46 high-intensity accelerations and 73 high-intensity decelerations during match play in elite academy footballers. Furthermore, accelerations and decelerations contribute significantly to the total high intensity running distances and sprinting distances in football matches and occur more frequently during a match than any other running metric surprisingly.

Athletes with better acceleration and deceleration capabilities will therefore gain performance benefits due to the high volume and intensity of such actions taking place in games. This, alongside the biomechanical stress and muscle damage associated with high-intensity accelerations and decelerations, shows the importance of monitoring this metric.

Therefore, the quantification of an athlete's ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly and efficiently may be more important for successful field-sport performance. Both accelerations and decelerations can contribute significantly to a player’s load and are useful indicators of external load, therefore their value within athlete monitoring seems to be gaining increased importance.


Accelerating and decelerating are crucial skills in soccer and field based sports, for several reasons:

  1. Change of direction: Field based sports involve a lot of sudden changes of direction, whether it's to avoid a defender, make a run into space, or quickly switch the direction of play. Being able to accelerate and decelerate quickly allows a player to execute these movements effectively and efficiently.

  2. Creating and closing gaps: The ability to accelerate quickly can help a player create space for themselves or close down space for their opponent. For example, a quick burst of speed can help a forward get past a defender or a midfielder close down an opposing player with the ball

  3. Counterattacks: Accelerating quickly is essential for counterattacks, where a team quickly transitions from defense to attack. A quick burst of speed can help a team catch their opponents off guard to create scoring opportunities.

  4. Recovery: Decelerating is important for recovery, allowing a player to slow down and regain their balance after making a fast run or change of direction, which can be especially important for defenders who need to quickly change direction to keep up with attackers.

  5. Injury prevention: Finally, mastering acceleration and deceleration can help prevent injuries. Players who can quickly and efficiently change direction are less likely to over-extend themselves, suffer muscle strains or other injuries.

To conclude, accelerations and decelerations are important actions in sport and therefore should be considered when conducting GPS analysis.

Athletes with greater maximal acceleration and deceleration capabilities appear to display higher sub-maximal performance on a day-to-day basis, therefore monitoring daily and/or weekly maximum values compared to individual norms can provide an alternative or an additional method to monitoring fatigue.

Using GPS measurements for maximum acceleration and deceleration provide a time-efficient and sport-specific alternative to standard testing methods, further emphasizing the importance of this for the physical development of athletes.


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