Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 221–226 | Cite as

VO2Max and VO2AT: athletic performance and field role of elite soccer players

  • Danilo Manari
  • Massimo Manara
  • Andrea Zurini
  • Giovanni Tortorella
  • Mauro Vaccarezza
  • Nicolò Prandelli
  • Davide Ancelotti
  • Marco Vitale
  • Prisco Mirandola
  • Daniela Galli
Original Article



Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and oxygen consumption at anaerobic threshold (VO2AT) are commonly measured parameters to test elite soccer players; however, studies relating metabolic parameters of professional soccer players with performance and best fitting to the field role are scarce. Our aim was to study the relations of VO2max and VO2AT with the field role of elite soccer players to generate a robust dataset with a solid statistical analysis.


Over a 12-year period we performed 953 field evaluation tests of VO2 max and VO2AT on 450 elite soccer players of 13 professional teams by incremental, continuous and exhausting test modified from Conconi’s test. Statistical analysis was performed by one-way ANOVA followed—when appropriate—by Tukey post hoc test. Effect size was evaluated by the Cohen D test and η partial squared test. Statistical significance was set for p < 0.05.


VO2max mean values increased at the beginning of season by 1.073 ± 0.06 respect to pre-season then decreased again up to pre-season levels and remained stable, while VO2AT did not change during time. VO2max differences were also related to players’ field role. VO2max mean value for Goalkeeper was 50.85 ± 4.2, for central Defender was 57.58 ± 4.3, for Winger-sides back was 60.53 ± 5.02, for Midfielder was 59.53 ± 5.08, for Forward was 56.52 ± 4.14. On the contrary, as expected, VO2AT percentage variations among the roles were not significant.


VO2max is the choice parameter to consider for the metabolic compliance of athletes to the field role requirements, consequently influencing training programs, recovery and injury prevention strategies.


Aerobic capabilities Sport physiology Training Elite athletes 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Functional metabolic data, reported in this manuscript, were anonymously generated. Participants were exempt from possible physical, psychological and social injury.

Informed consent

No ethical committee approval was required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danilo Manari
    • 1
  • Massimo Manara
    • 2
  • Andrea Zurini
    • 3
  • Giovanni Tortorella
    • 4
  • Mauro Vaccarezza
    • 5
  • Nicolò Prandelli
    • 1
  • Davide Ancelotti
    • 6
  • Marco Vitale
    • 7
  • Prisco Mirandola
    • 7
  • Daniela Galli
    • 7
  1. 1.Centro Cuore SaluteReggio EmiliaItaly
  2. 2.College of Sport PhysiciansParmaItaly
  3. 3.ALEMEA ConsultingCarpiItaly
  4. 4.Sport Medicine CenterAzienda Ospedaliera Santa Maria NuovaReggio EmiliaItaly
  5. 5.School of Biomedical Sciences Faculty of Health SciencesCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  6. 6.Real Madrid FCMadridSpain
  7. 7.Department of Biomedical, Biotechnological and Translational Sciences (S.Bi.Bi.T.), Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM)University of ParmaParmaItaly

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