This cross-sectional study compared somatic, endurance performance determinants and heart rate variability (HRV) profiles of professional soccer players divided into different age groups: GI (17-19.9 years; n = 23), GII (20-24.9 years; n = 45), GIII (25-29.9 years; n = 30), and GIV (30-39 years; n = 26). Players underwent somatic and HRV assessment and maximal exercise testing. HRV was analyzed by spectral analysis of HRV, and high (HF) and low (LF) frequency power was transformed by a natural logarithm (Ln). Players in GIV (83 ± 7 kg) were heavier (p < 0.05) compared to both GI (73 ± 6 kg), and GII (78 ± 6 kg). Significantly lower maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max, ml·kg-1·min-1) was observed for GIV (56.6 ± 3.8) compared to GI (59.6 ± 3.9), GII (59.4 ± 4.2) and GIV (59.7 ± 4.1). All age-groups, except for GII, demonstrated comparable relative maximal power output (Pmax). For supine HRV, significantly lower Ln HF (ms2) was identified in both GIII (7.1 ± 0.8) and GIV (6.9 ± 1.0) compared to GI (7.9 ± 0.6) and GII (7.7 ± 0.9). In conclusion, soccer players aged >25 years showed negligible differences in Pmax unlike the age group differences demonstrated in VO2max. A shift towards relative sympathetic dominance, particularly due to reduced vagal activity, was apparent after approximately 8 years of competing at the professional level.
Botek, M., Krejčí, J., McKune, A. J., & Klimešová, I. (2016). Somatic, endurance performance and heart rate variability profiles of professional soccer players grouped according to age. Journal of Human Kinetics, 54(1), 65–74. https://doi.org/10.1515/hukin-2016-0035