Latest football science research

January 2022 edition

Team sport practitioners work in a fast-paced environment where rapid innovations are expected to provide competitive benefits. When implementing these new strategies and tools in practice, it is essential to have sound evidence. Practitioners often consider research as a slow and time-consuming process but these days a lot of interesting research is published. Based on one of our key principles, we present our Topsportslab selection of recently published research to support your evidence-based practice:

In-season head-coach changes have positive short- and long-term effects on team performance in men’s soccer—evidence from the Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga

– Zart & Gullich in Journal of Sports Sciences

We start with a very interesting study about the effect of head-coach changes (HCC) on the match performance of teams. This study includes data from 149 teams and 3960 matches played in the English, German, and Spanish premier football leagues. All matches were played between 2010 and 2019. The main outcome of the study was that a HCC was related to positive short- (8 matches), medium- (12 matches) and long-term effects (16 matches) on teams’ performances. These findings were in line with the hypothesis of relief from a coach’s performance-suppressing factor (RCPSF). This means that the team performance is negatively influenced pre-HCC by a reduced engagement of several players that became gradually dissatisfied with the work of the head coach in terms of aspects such as the leadership style and the tactics.

Linear advancing actions followed by deceleration and turn the the most common movements preceding goals in male professional soccer

– Hernández et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

This study confirms the importance of training agility in football. As mentioned by the title of the study, linear movements followed by a deceleration and a turn were shown the most common movements preceding goals in elite football. The finding that a high-intensity movement was present in 82% of the situations highlights the need to train these movements with respect to creating goal-scoring opportunities.

The reliability, validity and sensitivity of an individualised sub-maximal fitness test in elite rugby league athletes

– Scott et al.  in Journal of Sports Sciences

This study evaluates the use of an individualised sub-maximal fitness test to monitor training effects in team sports. The test requires less time and effort than traditional maximally-graded field tests, and are therefore more a cost-effective method to monitor training effects during busy in-season periods. Read our recent blog to learn more about this study!

We end with two dutch studies about injury prevention.

The study of van Der Horst & Denderen provides guidelines for collecting and interpreting data from isokinetic strength tests in the context of football players with an ACL reconstruction. The guidelines are based on a consensus between 42 dutch experts, and therefore represent best-evidence and best-practice insights!

Another dutch study of Brauers et al. explored if off-field activities are a relevant risk factor for hamstring injuries in amateur football players. In line with earlier research, the study shows that a previous hamstring injury is the main risk factor for new hamstring injuries. Off-field activities related to players’ professional and leisure activities were not associated with the injury risk. However, the authors suggest that a continuous monitoring of these activities, instead of a one-time screening that was used in the study, could provide more detailed insights about the potential impact of these activities.

We will be back in March with an overview of research published in February!

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