Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional football


Elite football is characterized by high physical demands and frequent changes in exercise intensity. In the context of the game, each player performs ~1000-1400 short activities, with changes every 4-6 s, and high-intensity running actions approximately every 70 s (Stolen et al.,2005). Thus, sprint speed and power play a determinant role in elite football. Previous studies have reported that both speed and power can be regarded as important indicators of soccer performance, with top-level players usually being faster and more powerful than their less specialized peers (Coen et al., 1998; Arnason et al., 2004). Despite this evidence, there is a need to examine the frequency of these fast and powerful activities in the most decisive moment of the match: the goal situation. 


To assess the frequency of speed-power actions (i.e., straight sprints, change-of-direction sprints, jumps, rotations) in goal situations in professional football using video analysis.


After analyzing 409 goals recorded during the second half of the season (2007/08) in the first German National League the authors observed that: 

  • In 298 out of 360 goals (83%) at least one powerful action of either the scoring or the assisting player was noted. 
  • In goal situations, the majority of powerful actions performed by scoring players were straight sprints (45% of all the examined goals), followed by jumps (16%), and rotations and change-of-direction sprints (6% each). 
  • Likewise, for assisting players, the most frequent actions that preceded goal situations were straight sprints (n = 137), followed by rapid rotations (n = 28), jumps (n = 22), and change-of-direction sprints (n = 18). 
  • Before goal scoring, straight sprints for the scoring player were predominantly (75%) performed without the ball; in contrast, assisting players sprinted most frequently (64%) with the ball.


Straight sprinting was the most frequent powerful action prior to scoring goals in elite football, for both scoring and assisting players. Other speed-power actions such as jumps, rapid rotations and directional changes were shown to play an important and decisive role in elite football performance.


  • Maximizing speed- and power-related capacities is an essential requirement for successful performances in modern football. 
  • Coaches and sport scientists should be aware of this necessity and implement effective speed and power testing and training approaches. 
  • In this context, practitioners are advised to select assessment methods and training routines that are easy to conduct and apply even during congested match periods, which is a current reality worldwide.  
  • An efficient and feasible intervention plan related to speed-power development will allow players to achieve and maintain higher and more consistent levels of performance throughout the competitive period. 

Stølen, T., Chamari, K., Castagna, C., & Wisløff, U. (2005). Physiology of soccer. Sports Medicine, 35(6), 501-536.

Coen, B., Urhausen, A., Coen, G., &Kindermann, W. (1998). Der Fußball-Score: Bewertung der körperlichen Fitness. Dt. Zschr. f. Sportmed, 49(6), 187-192.

Arnason, A., Sigurdsson, S. B., Gudmundsson, A., Holme, I., Engebretsen, L., & Bahr, R. (2004). Physical fitness, injuries, and team performance in soccer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(2), 278-285.