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(July - September 2022)
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Vol. 57. Issue 215. (In progress)
(July - September 2022)
Original Article
Open Access
Playing at altitude. Performance of a Mexican professional football team at different level of altitude
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Agustin Alanis
Corresponding author
dr.agustin.alanis@hotmail.com

Corresponding author.
, Oscar Salas, Karina Salas, Iliana Quintero, Yonny Carranza, Laura Salazar
Department of Sports Medicine & Physical Rehabilitation, Hospital Universtario “Dr. José Eleuterio Gonzalez”, Monterrey, México
Article information
Abstract
Full Text
Bibliography
Statistics
Abstract
Background

Football is the most popular sport in the world, and matches are commonly played at different levels of altitude. As the altitude increases, the availability of oxygen decreases. The dynamics of the ball will be altered due to the decrease in air resistance. These conditions can affect the physical and/or sports performance of football players.

The objective of this study is to determine if there is a relationship between altitude and performance of a professional football team.

Methods

A total of 130 matches of a Mexican professional football team were analyzed. Physical performance was measured by Match Analysis®, a video and statistical analysis; sports performance was measured according to the score. Altitude was measured with Geo Elevation.

Results

No relationship was found between altitude and total distance covered (p=0.165), Distance in first half (p=0.441) sprints number(p=0.115) and time between sprints (p=0.237)

There was a significant increase between total distance covered during the second half (p=0.009) and mean speed on "Low altitude' (p=0.000)

We found no relation between the altitude level and the obtained result (p=0.28) number of goals in favour (p=0.209) and against (p=0.629).

Conclusion

We found no relationship between the altitude level and physical and sports performance of a professional football team

Keywords:
Altitude
Soccer
Performance
Football
Mexico
Full Text
Introduction

Football is the most popular sport in the world,1 due to his popularity it is common for matches to be played in different level of altitude.2 As altitude increases, the a oxygen concentration will decrease.3 This will produce a decrement in oxygen availability and in arterial oxygen content.4,5 This produces a series of physiological mechanisms, mainly an increase in the respiratory and heart rate, an increase in diuresis, and excretion of bicarbonate, a decrease in phosphocreatine hydrolysis, a decrease in muscle contractibility, and a decrease in maximum oxygen consumption34. Moreover a decrease in air resistance that will alter the physics and dynamics of the ball.6 This set of altitude conditions can cause a negative effect on the physical and/or sports performance of soccer players.3,4,6-8

The objective of this study is to determine if there is a negativity relationship between the altitude level and the physical and sports performance of a professional football team.

Material and methods

The data were obtained from 130 matches played by a professional of football team of Liga Mx during 4 years (Apertura 2014 to Clausura 2018).The players were classified as defenders, midfielders and forwards.9-11 Only players who played an entire match were included. If football players were expelled or replaced, they were excluded. Goalkeepers, were not included. The minutes added in the time were not included. Matches in which played overtime were eliminated.

Data obtained from Match Analysis ® K2 Plus (Emeryville, California, USA), which is a soccer performance analysis system that use cameras to measure physical performance in our study.12

The report includes the performance of the two teams in the match.

Total distance covered (m) mean speed (Km/h), number of sprints (Number), and time between sprints (min) were recorded. Information regarding the matches, namely, goals for, goals against, and final score; was obtained from the official website of the Liga Mx.13 These data were used as measurements of sports performance.

The altitude of the stadiums where the matches were held was measured by Geo Elevation® software, taking as a reference point the center of the pitch and subsequently classified according to the FIFA Medicine Manual14 as “Near Sea Level” (0-500 m), “Low Altitude” (500-2000 m), “Moderate Altitude” (2001-3000 m), High Altitude (3001-5,500 m), and Extreme Altitude (> 5500 m).

The study was authorized by the Ethics Committee of the School of Medicine of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon. Due to the nature of the study, informed consent was not required.

Team characteristics

The stadium where the team plays as a local, “Universitario stadium” is located at an altitude of 525 m and its training center is at 370 m. When the team is visitor, arrives at the venue 24 hours before.

Statistical analyses

Numerical variables were reported as means (± SD) The distribution of the numerical variables was assessed using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov normality test.

In the bivariate analysis, Student's t-test was used to compare two quantitative variables with a parametric distribution. For the comparison of numerical variables in three or more groups, the ANOVA or Kruskal-Wallis test was used according to the distribution of the variable. The comparison of qualitative variables between groups was made with the Chi-square test. A p-value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. The statistical analysis was performed with SPSS Statistics version 24. The effect size was calculated using the partial eta squared (small: 0.01, moderate: 0.06, large: 0.14).

Results

The player of team has a mean age of 27.23 ± 3.83 years. Of the 130 matches, 6.92% (9) were held at “Near sea level”, 71.53% (93) at “Low Altitude” and 21.53 % (28) at “Moderate Altitude”. The altitude of the different stadiums shows in the Table 1.

Table 1.

Altitude of the stadiums in Liga Mx.

Stadium  City /State  Altitude(m)  Classification 
Luis Pirata Fuente  Boca del Rio,Veracruz  17  Near sea level 
Caliente  Tijuana, Baja California  57  Near sea level 
BBVA*  Guadalupe, Nuevo Léón  493  Near sea level 
Victor Manuel Reyna  Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas  516  Low Altitude 
Universitario  San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo León  525  Low Altitude 
TSM  Torreón, Coahuila  1121  Low Altitude 
Jalisco  Guadalajara, Jalisco  1563  Low Altitude 
Chivas *  Zapopan,Jalisco  1671  Low Altitude 
León  León, Guanajuato  1802  Low Altitude 
Corregidora  Queretaro, Queretaro  1876  Low Altitude 
Morelos  Morelia,Michoacan  1944  Low Altitude 
Azul  Ciudad de México, México  2239  Moderate Altitude 
Cuautémoc  Puebla, Puebla  2243  Moderate Altitude 
Azteca *  Ciudad de México, México  2287  Moderate Altitude 
Olimpico Universitario  Ciudad de México, México  2291  Moderate Altitude 
Hidalgo  Pachuca, Hidalgo  2390  Moderate Altitude 
Alberto Chivo Córdoba  Toluca, Estado de México  2691  Moderate Altitude 
Nemesio Diez  Toluca, Estado de México  2691  Moderate Altitude 

Will be host in World Cup 2026.

Near Sea Level: 0-500 m. Low Altitude 501-2000 m. Moderate Altitude:2001-3000 m.

Global performance

In the global performance of the team at “Near sea level” a distance of 9854.77 ± 835.98 m was covered at a mean speed of 6.26 ± 0.52 km/h and a total of 19.20 ± 7.55 sprints with a time of 5.30 ± 2.44 min between each. At “Low Altitude” the team had a displacement of 10102.39 ± 1930.45 m, a mean speed of 6.40 ± 0.57 km/h, 20.48 ±7.88 sprints and 5.06 ±2.49 minutes between each.

At “Moderate Altitude” a distance of 9878.46 ± 835.95 m was covered at a mean speed of 6.22 ± 0.54 km/h and a total of 19.37 ± 7.39 sprints with a time of 5.38 ± 2.41 min between each sprint (Table 2).

Table 2.

Physical performance of the team in different levels of altitude.

Variable  Level of Altitude  Mean ± SD  95% Confidence IntervalEffect Size  P value 
Total distance (m)Near Sea Level  9854.77 ± 835.98  9667.52  10042.02  0.0040.165
Low Altitude  10102.39 ± 1930.45  9954.73  10250.05 
Moderate Altitude  9878.46 ± 835.95  9759.77  9997.15 
Distance in first half (m)Near Sea Level  5018.29 ± 404.36  4927.72  5108.86  0.0020.441
Low Altitude  5098.05 ± 1807.88  4959.77  5236.34 
Moderate Altitude  4939.66 ± 436.33  4877.71  5001.61 
Distance in second half (m)Near Sea Level  4836.48 ± 486.47  4727.52  4945.44  0.100.009 *
Low Altitude  5004.33 ± 499.34  4966.14  5042.53 
Moderate Altitude  4938.80 ± 457.49  4869.30  5008.29 
Mean Speed (Km/h)Near Sea Level  6.26 ± 0.52  6.14  6.38  0.200.000*
Low Altitude  6.40 ± 0.51  6.36  6.44 
Moderate Altitude  6.22 ± 0.54  6.15  6.30 
Number of SprintsNear Sea Level  19.20 ± 7.55  17.51  20.90  0.0050.115
Low Altitude  20.48 ± 7.88  19.88  21.08 
Moderate Altitude  19.37 ± 7.39  18.32  20.42 
Time between Sprints (min)Near Sea Level  5.30 ± 2.44  4.75  5.84  0.0030.237
Low Altitude  5.06 ± 2.49  4.87  5.25 
Moderate Altitude  5.38 ± 2.41  5.04  5.73 

Near Sea Level: 0-500 m. Low Altitude 501-2000 m. Moderate Altitude:2001-3000 m.

We compare the performance in “Near sea level” and “Moderate altitude” against the parameters for “Low altitude”. There was a decrease of 2.45% in the total distance covered in “Near sea Level” and of 2.22% in “Moderate Altitude. Mean speed decreased 2.19% in “Near sea Level” and 2.81% in “Moderate Altitude”. It decreased in the number of sprints by 6.25 %% “Near sea Level” and by 5.42% in “Moderate Altitude”, with an increase of 4.47% in the time between sprints in “Near sea Level” and 6.32% in “Moderate Altitude”.

No statistical differences were found between altitude and the total distance covered (p=0.165; ES 0.004) A significant difference was observed in the mean speed at “Low Altitude” (p=0.000; ES 0.20). No relationship was found between altitude and the total number of sprints (p= 0.115; ES 0.005) and the time between sprints (p=0.237; ES 0.003).

Performance by position

Defenders covered a distance of 9577.44 ± 578.55 m at “Near sea level”, 9820.01 ± 2611.38 m at “Low Altitude” and 9577.44 ± 699.22 m at “Moderate Altitude”. Midfielders covered a distance of 10501.25 ± 701.50 m at “Near sea level”, 10676.89 ± 931.14 at “Low Altitude” and 10470.09 ± 705.41 at “Moderate Altitude”. Forwards covered a distance “Near sea level” of 9529.31 ± 964.56 m, at “Low Altitude” 9750.52 ± 931.14 m and at “Moderate Altitude” 9530.95 ± 787.56 m.

In the total distance covered according to the position of the players, we observed in the defenders a decrease of 2.84% in “Near sea level” and of 9.40% in “Moderate Altitude”. In midfielders it decreased by 1.65% and 1.94% in “Near sea level” and “Moderate Altitude” respectively. Forwards decreased by 2.27% in “Near sea level” and 2.25% in “Moderate Altitude”.

No relationship was found between level of altitude and total distance covered in defenders (p= 0.561; ES 0.003), midfielders (p= 0.064; ES 0.017) and forwards (p= 0.342; ES 0.013) (Table 3).

Table 3.

Physical performance of the team by positión in different levels of altitude.

Variable  Position  Level of altitude  Mean ± SD  95% Confidence IntervalEffect size  P value 
Total, distance (m)DFNear Sea Level  9541 ± 578.557  9348.26  9734.06  0.0030.561
Low Altitude  9820.01 ± 2611.38  9530.06  10109.98 
Moderate Altitude  9577.55 ± 699.22  9430.26  9724.84 
MCNear Sea Level  10501 .35 ± 701.50  10218.00  10784.69  0.0170.064
Low Altitude  10676.89 ± 671.62  10588.04  10763.73 
Moderate Altitude  10470.09 ± 705.41  10298.03  10642.15 
DLNear Sea Level  9529.31 ± 964.56  9015.33  10043.30  0.0130.342
Low Altitude  9750.52 ± 931.14  9580.76  9920.28 
Moderate Altitude  9530.95 ± 787.56  9268.36  9793.53 
Distance in first half (m)DFNear Sea Level  4854.84 ± 271.241  4764.40  4945.27  0.0020.704
Low Altitude  5001.65 ± 2571.67  4716.10  5287.20 
Moderate Altitude  4793.34 ± 330.66  4723.68  4862.99 
MCNear Sea Level  5369.38 ± 333.378  5233.57  5503.20  0.0140.114
Low Altitude  5334 .21 ± 355.33  5287.74  5380.68 
Moderate Altitude  5236.10 ± 393.65  5140.08  5332.12 
DLNear Sea Level  4827.38 ± 413.25  4607.16  5047.59  0.140.294
Low Altitude  4900.29 ± 522  4805.12  4995.46 
Moderate Altitude  4754.84 ± 460.92  4601.16  4908.52 
Distance in second half (m)DFNear Sea Level  4886.32 ± 379.519  4559.79  4812.86  0.0080.179
Low Altitude  4818.37 ± 399.79  4773.98  4862.76 
Moderate Altitude  4784.21 ± 494.06  4680.14  4888.29 
MCNear Sea Level  5132.96 ±428.54  4959.87  5306.06  0.0240.019 *
Low Altitude  5341.67 ± 433.57  5284.97  5398.38 
Moderate Altitude  5233.99 ± 375.17  5142.47  5325.50 
DLNear Sea Level  4701.94 ± 592.91  4386.00  5017.88  0.0090.463
Low Altitude  4850.23 ± 523.46  4754.79  4945.66 
Moderate Altitude  4776.11 ± 417.84  4636.79  4915.43 
Mean Speed (Km/h)DFNear Sea Level  6.06 ± 0.36  5.9404  6.1809  0.0240.005 *
Low Altitude  6.16 ± 0.37  6.1281  6.2115 
Moderate Altitude  6.03 ± 0.41  5.9428  6.1185 
MCNear Sea Level  6.66 ± 0.44  6.4912  6.8482  0.0340.004 *
Low Altitude  6.80 ± 0.40  6.7518  6.8580 
Moderate Altitude  6.61 ± 0.47  6.5005  6.7341 
DLNear Sea Level  6.07 ± 0.62  5.7430  6.4048  0.0340.053
Low Altitude  6.23 ± 0.53  6.1404  6.3369 
Moderate Altitude  5.99 ± 0.53  5.8217  6.1770 
Number of SprintsDFNear Sea Level  17.19 ± 6.911  14.88  19.49  .0020.67
Low Altitude  17.05 ± 6.909  16.28  17.81 
Moderate Altitude  16.34 ± 6.80  14.90  17.77 
MCNear Sea Level  22.38 ± 7.85  19.21  25.56  .0110.187
Low Altitude  24.41 ± 7.95  23.37  25.45 
Moderate Altitude  22.75 ± 7.49  20.92  24.58 
DLNear Sea Level  18.69 ± 7.19  14.85  22.52  .0320.067
Low Altitude  22.06 ± 5.96  20.97  23.15 
Moderate Altitude  20.54 ± 5.45  18.72  22.36 
Time between Sprints (min)DFNear Sea Level  5.94 ± 2.78  5.0132  6.8673  .0020.711
Low Altitude  6.05 ± 2.94  5.7323  6.3857 
Moderate Altitude  6.31 ± 2.79  5.7305  6.9072 
MCNear Sea Level  4.43 ± 1.51  3.8244  5.0479  .0080.261
Low Altitude  4.09 ± 1.66  3.8767  4.3113 
Moderate Altitude  4.42 ± 1.66  4.0191  4.8295 
DLNear Sea Level  5.22 ± 253  3.8778  6.5785  .0500.014
Low Altitude  4.27 ± 1.24  4.0510  4.5041 
Moderate Altitude  4.89 ± 1.71  4.3224  5.4668 

DF:Defenses MC: Midfielders DL:Forwards.

Near Sea Level: 0-500 m. Low Altitude 501-2000 m .Moderate Altitude:2001-3000 m.

Mean speed of the defenders was 6.06 ± 0.36 km/h “Near sea level”, 6.16 ± 0.37 km/h at “Low Altitude” and 6.03 ± 0.41 km/h at “Moderate Altitude”. Midfielders had a mean speed of 6.66 ± 0.36 km/h “Near sea level”, 6.80 ± 0.40 km/h at “Low Altitude” and 6.61 ± 0.47 km/h at “Moderate Altitude” while forwards had a mean speed of 6.07 ± 0.62 km/h “Near sea level”, 6.23 ± 0.53 km/h at “Low Altitude” and 5.99 ± 0.53 km/h at “Moderate Altitude”.

The mean speed of the defenders decreased by 1.62% in “Near sea level” and 2.11% in “Moderate altitude”. The mean speed of midfielders decreased by 2.06% in “Near sea level” and 2.97% in Moderate Altitude”. Forwards also decreased by 2.57% on “Near sea level” and 3.85% on “Moderate Altitude”.

Mean speed was significantly higher at “Low Altitude” in defenders (p= 0.005; ES 0.024) and midfielders (p=0.004; ES 0.034).This relationship was not found in forwards (p=0.53; ES 0.034).

Defenders had 17.19 ± 6.91 sprints at “Near sea level”, 17.05 ± 6.90 at “Low Altitude” and 16.34 ± 6.80 at “Moderate Altitude”. Midfielders had 22.28 ± ±7.85 sprints “Near sea level”, 24.41 ± 7.95 at “Low Altitude” and 22.75 ± 7.49 at “Moderate Altitude”. Forwards had 18.69 ± 7.19 sprints “Near sea level”, 22.06 ± 5.96 at “Low Altitude” and 20.54 ± 5.45 at “Moderate Altitude”.

Regarding the number of sprints performed, defenses increased in 0.82% in “Near sea level” and decreased by 4.16% in “Moderate Altitude”. Midfielders decreased 8.32% in “Near sea level” and 6.80% in “Moderate Altitude”. Forwards decreased 15.28% in “Near sea level” and 6.89% in Moderate altitude ”. No relationship was found between the number of sprints performed and the level of altitude in defenders (p=0.670; ES 0.002), midfielders (p=0.187; ES 0.011) and forwards (p=0.067; ES 0.032).

At “Near sea level” the time between sprints in defenders was 5.94 ± 2.78 minutes, 6.05 ±2.94 min at “Low Altitude” and 6.31 ± 2.79 at “Moderate Altitude”. In midfielders, this time was 4.43±1.51 minutes at Near sea level”, 4.09 ±1.66 min at “Low Altitude” and 4.42 ±1.66 at “Moderate Altitude”. Forwards had a time of 5.22 ± 2.53 minutes between sprints at “Near sea level”, 4.27 ±1.24 min at “Low Altitude” and 4.89 ±1.71 at “Moderate Altitude”.

The time between sprints in the defenders, decreased 1.82% in “Near sea level” and increased 4.30% in “Moderate Altitude”. Midfielders increased by 8.31% in “Near sea level” and 8.07% in “Moderate Altitude”. Forwards increased 22.25% in “Near sea level” and 14.52% in “Moderate Altitude”

No relationship was found between the time between each sprint performed by defenders (p=0.711; ES 0.002), midfielders (p=0.261; ES 0.008) and forwards (p=0.14; ES 0.050).

Comparison against rivals

When comparing the performance against those rivals that live in “Near Sea Level”, we found a non-significant decrease of 5.68% in the “Number of sprints”. Compared with those teams that are at “Low Altitude”, we found a significant increase of .094% in average speed, a non-significant decrease of 6.15% in the number of sprints and a non-significant increase of 5.03% in the time between sprints. When comparing rivals living in "Moderate Altitude", a non-significant decrease of 15.59% in the number of sprints and a significant increase of 16.91% in the time between sprints was found.

Sport performance

Although at “Moderate Altitude” the percentage of victories decreased, the percentage of defeats increased; Fewer goals were scored, and more goals were received in matches held in “Moderate Altitude.” No correlation was found between the result and the number of goals scored and received at different altitudes (Table 4).

Table 4.

Goal performance in different levels of altitude.

Variable  Level of Altitude  Mean ± SD  Effect Size  P value 
Goals scoredNear Sea Level  1.36 ± 1.120  .0240.209
Low Altitude  1.67 ± 1.476 
Moderate Altitude  1.15 ± 1.167 
Goles receveidNear Sea Level  0.64 ± 0.67  .0070.629
Low Altitude  0.9 ± 0.915 
Moderate Altitude  0.85 ± 0.77 
Discussion

The main finding of our study was that there was no negative impact on physical and sports performance when playing at different levels of altitude, as well as no statistically significant differences in the total distance covered, the number of sprints, and the time between each sprint. The stadium of the studied team was found at 525 meters above sea level, qualifying as a “Low Altitude” stadium.

Is not statistically significant difference in the total distance covered, the number of sprints and the time between each sprint at different altitudes. When we compare teams that live at “Moderate Altitude”, we found a non-significant decrease of 13% in the number of sprints and a significant increase of 16.9% in the time between each sprint.

Distance covered

One of the ways in which the effects of altitude can be studied is through the total distance covered.20 No statistically significant differences were observed between the distances covered between the players at the different altitudes during the entire game or in each half of the game, this contrasts with the information obtained by Bohner,15 where statistically significant differences were observed when comparing the distance by average minute between a game played on a Near Sea Level playing field and another at moderate altitude, although in this study the total distance was not evaluated and that the games were played in a collegiate soccer league. In addition to this, the distances were measured through a GPS device on the players' arms where the margin of error of the devices was not reported, in contrast to the data obtained in the Mexican league through a camera system, tracking the exact position and distance that the players covered.

Also, we found a decrease of the 2.2% in the total distance covered in “Moderate Altitude” contrary to a significant decrease in the distance traveled reported by university soccer players, although in this study the absolute values or reduction percentages were not reported, so this conclusion was obtained from the graphics in the full text.15

Garvican found in his study a decrease of 9.1% of the total distance obtained on day 4 of training at an altitude of 1600, compared to the game at sea level, however, in this study, 3 periods of 25 minutes were played in the moderate altitude in contrast to the game at sea level which was a standard 2 halves 45-minute match.16 In our study, only those players who had played the two 45-minute halves were considered in different altitudes. This could explain the smaller difference between the distances covered at sea level and a higher altitude compared to Garvican´s study,16 where matches times were shorter at higher altitudes. Trewin et al.17 found a 4% decrease in performance in elite women's soccer players when the altitude increased, and Nasis18 who found a decrease of 3.1% in the total distance covered in 1200 m (Low altitude in our study). In this study decrease was of 2.5%. Nasis18 in her study hypothesizes that the decrease in the distance traveled may be due to the reduction of the Vo2 Max which results in a greater intensity of the exercise.

These changes can be explained due to a lower oxygen pressure with increasing altitude with a decrease in ATP production, producing energy through the anaerobic pathway.

In addition to this, Nasis's study was carried out during the World Cup, where there were significant differences in the physical conditions between the teams where their players belong to elite teams in championships such as Europeans and where the geographical conditions of each country are different. There is evidence that players who play in high altitude conditions tend to have a shorter adaptation time when taken to places near sea level and then to high altitudes than those who have played exclusively near sea level, on average 7 days less.5 In Liga MX, teams are constantly traveling each week to play matches outside of their local stadiums, usually at higher altitudes.19–22 This could explain the smaller difference compared to previously reported studies.

Mean speed

It has been empirically assumed that decreasing air resistance would increase the speed of the players.6 However, there is a decrease in speed of 2.81% in the “Moderate Altitude” stages, in agreement with the observations made by Nassis et al.18 We hypothesize that the decrease in the availability of ambient oxygen, decreasing the mechanisms of ATP production through the mitochondrial pathway and the little time they have to adapt to rapid changes in altitude negatively impact the speed of the players.

Number of sprints

Although the majority of the distance covered in football is at low speed,11,23 sprints are of major importance in soccer.10,24 The distance traveled at high speed distinguishes elite players from others11,16,25 and it is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional soccer, both for those who assist and those who score.3

Due to the decrease in air resistance at higher altitudes, the ability to perform a single sprint would be increased.7 Because there is a decrease in the hydrolysis of phosphocreatine11,23,27 and an increase in lactate concentration with increasing altitude.26

This may decrease the number of sprints performed as altitude increases, which is consistent with our findings6,27,28

We found a non-significant decrease of 6.25% in places near sea level and a non-significant decrease of 5.42% in “Moderate Altitude” stages. Similar changes were observed at “Low Altitude” stages with a 3.1% decrease as reported by Garvican.16

The similarity in the decrease in the percentages suggests that these may be caused by factors such as fatigue or weather conditions.19–22

Time between sprints

Although a longer recovery time is seen between sprints at a higher altitude which can be explained by the increase in lactate due to the presence of the anaerobic pathway of ATP production could explain this phenomenon.8,26,28,29 A statistically significant difference was not observed,” Near Sea Level” there was a decrease of 4.47% and 6.32% at “Moderate Altitude”. Despite this, the authors of this work hypothesize that in stages higher than “Moderate Altitude”, the time between sprints may increase as a consequence of the adaptive physiological changes to the decrease in oxygen pressure in the environment, however, they may also be strongly influenced as a load of psychological stress due to playing in a foreign stadium, the tactical strategies used for the game or factors such as the weather.19–22

Goals scored

We did not find statistically significant differences in contrast to what was reported by McSharry7 and Faude,30 who reported a significant disadvantage when playing matches at "Low, Moderate, and “High Altitude”.

This non-significant decrease in the sport performance parameters at “Moderate Altitude”, can be explained by the decrease in the number of sprints and increase the time between sprints,31 and addition to the disadvantage of playing games as a visitor.32 In addition to that each week they travel to different stadiums, located at different altitudes, accompanied by the fact that these conditions are shared by all the teams in the “Liga MX”.

Limitations

One of the weaknesses of our study was that the meteorological conditions were not considered. Considering that in Mexico there are drastic changes in temperature (winter matches have been held at less than 5°Celsius and summer matches have been held at 40 °) .Variables such as tactics, substitutions, age of the players and training methods were not considered.

No statistically significant differences were observed between the general performance of the soccer players of an Liga Mx team at sea level, Low Altitude”, and “Moderate Altitude”, as well as no better performance in variables such as speed and distance, covered. Contrary to what has been reported by other authors, altitude does not seem to be a decisive factor when evaluating the performance of the team, the researchers conclude that the altitude of the stadiums less than 3000 meters from sea level does not diminish the performance of the players. However, more prospective studies should be carried out that include factors such as weather conditions, the training method, and the playing styles of each team.

What does this study add?

  • Offers teams the knowledge to focus their physical preparation when playing matches in "Low and Moderate Altitude".

  • The altitude less than 3000 meters above sea level, does not influence the sports performance of a football team, which allows creating similar strategies in the game mode regardless of the altitude

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