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Medicina dello Sport 2021 March;74(1):43-55

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.21.03825-4

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

Long-term changes of body composition in an elite soccer player and its association with cognition: a ten-year retrospective study

Valentina CAVEDON 1, Chiara MILANESE 1 , Aiace RUSCIANO 2, Giuliano CORRADINI 2, Carlo ZANCANARO 1

1 Section of Movement Sciences, Department of Neurosciences, Laboratory of Anthropometry and Body Composition, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy; 2 A.C. ChievoVerona, Verona, Italy


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BACKGROUND: In soccer, understanding of long-term body composition changes associated with training and competition would be useful for both players and coaches. However, studies of this kind are hampered by frequent inter-club transfer, changes in club policy or continued availability of the relevant facilities.
METHODS: In this work we tracked lean and fat mass of an elite soccer player along ten consecutive years by means of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, which was carried out at preseason, mid-season, and end-season. Cognitive performance was also evaluated.
RESULTS: Correlation analysis showed that whole-body and regional fat mass increases with age (P=0.009 or less). Repeated measure ANOVA showed that whole-body lean soft tissue mass tended to cycle along the competitive season (P=0.059) with an increase at mid-season and, to a lesser extent, end-season vs. preseason. Fat mass and lean soft tissue mass respectively increased (P=0.018) and tended to decrease (P=0.083) during off-season. Several seasonal changes in body composition were statistically meaningful (i.e., >least significant change). Average reaction time in visual attention task test increased with fat mass (r=0.866, P=0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: These novel results highlight body composition trajectories and their relationship with cognition in an elite soccer player.


KEY WORDS: Absorptiometry, photon; Body Mass Index; Reaction time; Sports

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