Friday, May 25, 2012

Science in Football: what’s next?

Last week I was in Ghent (Belgium) for the 3rd World Conference on Science and Soccer. It was a 2-day productive gathering of sport scientists working in soccer. I had the opportunity to listen some good lectures and presentations on various aspects of soccer performance (physiology, performance analysis, physiotherapy etc). Last week gave me also the time to think more and evaluate the current situation.
We all realize that the number of scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journal has increased in the past years. This is due to the increasing i) number of scientists involved, and ii) interest of sport scientists in the area of soccer. However, I am wondering if this growing number of studies has made a substantial impact and resulted to some important changes in every day practice in the football clubs. I have posted my thoughts on this issue and I don’t want to add more. If you have more interest you can read previous posts

What’s next?
In this post my concern is on the future. What’s next? What is missing in applied sport science to become more effective in influencing every day practice in a club? Firstly, I think there are certain areas, with important practical applications, for which we know very little. For example
-Which are the more effective injury prevention strategies?
-effective training programs to improve match performance?
-a realistic periodization model to support short and long-term player’s development?

To answer some of these questions we need more realistic approaches. Most studies in the literature have been conducted with healthy adults, university students practicing football or amateur players, but not with football players! Protocols are relatively rigorous, conditions well or very well controlled, stimulus “isolated”. No doubt, we need controlled conditions to conduct valid experimental research. Do we need very much “isolated” stimulus? For instance, to study the effect of plyometric training on power we might apply 2-3 training sessions (20-30min each) 3 times per week for 8 weeks. In real life, players never train 20-30min per session. In addition, endurance training might follow power training in the same session. What is the interaction of the different training methods in a single session? What is the effect of combined power and endurance training in the short- and long-term development of the player? I address some practical questions for which the answer is: we don’t know!
In my opinion, there is a lot to be done before we can give clear and valid answers to the coaches. To start with, I think we should start planning our research with clear focus on practical questions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

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