Metabolic Conditioning for Team Sport (Part One)

I. Introduction

Team Sport HIT Session

Physical preparation in team sport should work towards satisfying two main objectives. Firstly, to increase the athlete’s physical robustness to tolerate the time on task required to master the skills of their sport (1). Secondly, to increase the athlete’s potential to produce energy. The latter concerns developing the necessary physical capacities that underpin the ability to express sport specific skills faster and for longer durations (2). It falls upon the responsibility of the strength and conditioning (S&C) coach to prescribe appropriate training methodologies that are meticulously designed to elicit the desired physiological adaptations and which in turn lead to increased physical performance (3). Specifically, this can be further broken down into its appropriate constituents: to perform skills faster one must increase their rate of energy production; to sustain high levels of skill expression and limit rate of decay over time one must increase their capacity of energy production. This in turn not only necessitates a highly developed working knowledge of energy system development, but also the ability to understand a landscape that is often complex and interchanging wherein a myriad of divergent physiological qualities are being targeted simultaneously (4). What’s more, this is often compounded by the fact that this often comes secondary to the technical and tactical training of the sport. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to:

i) Provide an historical overview of the literature in relation to the metabolic demands of team sport.

ii) Critically appraise the efficacy of current metabolic conditioning practises within team sport, and in doing so, provide applied recommendations with regards to the prescription of individualised metabolic conditioning strategies.


(1) Joyce, D., & Lewindon, D. (2014). High-performance training for sports. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

(2) Stone, N. M., & Kilding, A. E. (2009). Aerobic conditioning for team sport athletes. Sports Medicine, 39, 615-642.

(3) Berg, K. E. (2006). Comprehensive training for sport: Implications for the strength and conditioning professional. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 28, 10-18.

(4) Reilly, T., Morris, T., & Whyte, G. (2009). The specificity of training prescription and physiological assessment: A review. Journal of Sport Sciences, 27, 575-589.