Gasping for Air: Soccer Players’ Performance at High-Altitude

20 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jorge Tovar

Jorge Tovar

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 9, 2014

Abstract

A number of soccer officials have long debated whether to ban soccer games played at high altitudes above sea level. This paper explores soccer player’s performance when playing at high elevations using data obtained from the Copa Libertadores. I propose a range of direct indicators of player performance when playing at high altitudes: the number of total passes, the number of passes in the opposition’s half, and the number of successful passes. I also review the effects on the percentage of successful passes and the percentage of successful passes in the opponents’ half of the field. The performance indicators compare player outcomes when playing away above 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) relative to when they play away below that threshold. The results suggest that, for the most part, altitude has no impact. It does, however, have an impact on variables related to the way a player performs when faced with risky decisions. In particular, I find that the percentage of successful passes rises by about 5.6 percentage points, mostly driven by each player’s behavior in his own half. My findings suggest that players (and coaches) adapt to the conditions.

Keywords: Soccer, High-Altitude Performance, Soccer Players’ Performance, Impact Evaluation

JEL Classification: L83, C21

Suggested Citation

Tovar, Jorge, Gasping for Air: Soccer Players’ Performance at High-Altitude (June 9, 2014). Documento CEDE No. 2014-25, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2451279 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2451279

Jorge Tovar (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/profesores/planta/tovar_jorge

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