Normative reference and cut-offs values of maximal aerobic speed-20 m shuttle run test and maximal oxygen uptake for Tunisian adolescent (elite) soccer players


This study aimed to develop reference curves of aerobic parameters of 20 m shuttle run test for Tunisian soccer players. The study was conducted in the 2022/2023 pre-season. The reference curves of the maximal aerobic speed (MAS) and the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) were developed according to the Lambda, Mu and Sigma (LMS) method, using data from 742 Tunisian premier league soccer players aged 11–18 years. Measured variables included: weight, height, body mass index and maximal heart rate (HRmax). HRmax was measured when the participants completed the maximal aerobic speed. VO2max was estimated using the 20 m shuttle run test protocol (speed increment every minute). Our results presented the smoothed percentiles (3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th) of MAS (km/h) and VO2max (ml/kg•min⁻1) according to age. In addition, raw data showed that VO2 max was positively correlated with age (r = 0.333; P < 0.001), height (cm) (r = 0.279; P < 0.001), weight (kg) (r = 0.266; P < 0.001), practice period (years) (r = 0.324; P < 0.001) and BMI (kg/m2 ) (r = 0.10; P < 0.05). However, it was negatively correlated to HRmax (bpm) (r = − 0.247; P < 0.001). Only the measurements within the age group [12–12.99] are significantly higher (p < 0.001; ES = 0.63) compared with the previous age group [11–11.99]. Finally, regarding prevalence, our findings showed that 15.5 % of the players in our sample had VO2max values above the 87.7th percentile cut-off, while only 0.3 % exceeded the 99.18th percentile. The development of normative curves could help coaches and physical trainers to more accurately detect weaknesses in the aerobic performance of their players in order to sustain high-intensity repetitive actions during a soccer match.


aerobic performance, BMI, HRmax, VO2max, percentile curves, physical training, prevalence, practice period, soccer payers

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