Preprint / Version 1

The influence of competition time in soccer players performance factors: A scoping review with evidence-gap map.

Performance factors in soccer.


  • André Milheiro Centre for Research, Education, Innovation, and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D)
  • Ivan Baptista Centre for Research, Education, Innovation, and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D)
  • Fábio Y. Nakamura Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development (CIDESD)
  • Hugo Sarmento University of Coimbra, Research Unit for Sport and Physical Activity (CIDAF)
  • Filipe Manuel Clemente Sport Physical Activity and Health Research & Innovation Center
  • João Renato Silva Centre for Research, Education, Innovation, and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D)
  • José Afonso Centre for Research, Education, Innovation, and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D)



performance, Soccer


The aims of this systematic scoping review with evidence-gap map (EGM) were: i) to provide a synthesis of findings from studies comparing performance factors of starters and nonstarters (separately or integrated); ii) to identify compensatory strategies for players with reduced playing time and the barriers to their implementation; and iii) to provide an evidence and gap maps in order to guide future research towards the most relevant gaps in current literature. This review was conducted following the PRISMA 2020 and the respective extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR). Electronic databases such as Cochrane Library, PubMed, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science (Core Collection) were searched on 31/08/2023. The risk of bias was assessed using the Risk of Bias Assessment Tool for Nonrandomized Studies (RoBANS). From 32,613 potentially relevant articles, 57 independent trials from 70 publications were considered eligible for inclusion in the review. The physical performance factor (k=56, 98.2%) has been extensively studied in relation to the differences between starters and nonstarters. On the other hand, few studies of technical and psychological performance factors were analyzed, while tactical factor has not been addressed in any study. Starters presented higher workloads and improvements in the exercise performance measurements compared to nonstarters. The day commonly used for compensatory training was 24 hours after the match (k=16; 37.5%). Several strategies attempting to reproduce competitive loads were used, such as small-sided games (k=9; 56.3%), small-positional games (k=3, 18.8%), tactical-technical drills (k=2, 12.5%), friendly matches (k=1, 6.5%), running-based-drills (k=8, 50.0%), or strength training (k=2, 12.5%). This scoping review supports the necessity of placing increased emphasis on technical, tactical, and psychological performance factors, compensatory training strategies (including training day and types of drills), and the categorization of player groups. These efforts aim to providing an adequate and consistent training stimulus to replicate the competitive match demands for nonstarters. This approach is important to sustaining the physical adaptations, psychological factors, and tactical-technical skills needed to obtain performance improvements throughout the season. This review proposes four main future research areas on the topic: i) exploring the combination of scenarios within the microcycle (e.g., a starter on Sunday and a nonstarter the following Sunday); ii) directing more studies towards female soccer players; iii) investigating the impact on the weekly load of nonstarters when compensatory training is conducted on multiple days of the week (distributed practice); iv) analyze the differences according to positional status (e.g., in EAI, IAI, the impact of substitution, and physiological measures) and situational factors (competitive schedule, type of competition, place of play, final result, and quality of the opponent) between players groups. The protocol was registered in the Open Science Framework (project:; registration: and made public on December 30, 2021, before the searches were performed.


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