Training Practices of Football Players During the Early COVID-19 Lockdown Worldwide

Washif J. A., Mujika I., DeLang M. D., Brito J., Dellal A., Haugen T., ...More

International journal of sports physiology and performance, vol.18, no.1, pp.37-46, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1123/ijspp.2022-0186
  • Journal Name: International journal of sports physiology and performance
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, SportDiscus
  • Page Numbers: pp.37-46
  • Keywords: global sports, periodization, remote training, soccer, sport leagues
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The COVID-19 lockdown challenged the training options of athletes worldwide, including players from the most popular sport globally, football/soccer. PURPOSE: The authors explored the training practices of football players worldwide during the COVID-19 lockdown. METHODS: Football players (N = 2482, 30% professional, 22% semipro, and 48% amateur) completed an online survey (May-July 2020) on their training practices before versus during lockdown (March-June 2020). Questions were related to training frequency and session duration, as well as training knowledge and attitudes. RESULTS: Before lockdown, more professional (87%) than semipro (67%) and amateur (65%) players trained ≥5 sessions/wk, but this proportion decreased during the lockdown to 55%, 35%, and 42%, respectively. Players (80%-87%) trained ≥60 minutes before lockdown, but this proportion decreased to 45% in professionals, 43% in amateurs, and 36% in semipros during lockdown. At home, more than two-thirds of players had training space (73%) and equipment (66%) for cardiorespiratory training, while availability of equipment for technical and strength training was <50% during lockdown. Interactions between coach/trainer and player were more frequent (ie, daily) among professional (27%) than amateur (11%) and semipro (17%) players. Training load monitoring, albeit limited, was mostly performed by fitness coaches, more so with professionals (35%) than amateurs (13%) and semipros (17%). The players' training knowledge and attitudes/beliefs toward training were relatively modest (50%-59%). CONCLUSION: COVID-19 lockdown negatively affected training practices of football players worldwide, especially amateurs and semipros, for example, in training frequency, duration, intensity, technical, recovery, and other fitness training and coaching-related aspects. During lockdown-like situations, players should be monitored closely and provided appropriate support to facilitate their training.