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 solid 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 TSL selection of recent published research to support your evidence-based practice:

Nonergodicity in load and recovery: group results do not generalise to individuals

– Neumann et al. in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

We start with an interesting research article from a group of researchers affiliated with the University of Groningen. The authors comment on the fact that research on load and recovery in sports science is often conducted at the group level and should therefore be interpreted in terms of “on averages”. However, in the article, the authors demonstrate that load and recovery processes are nonergodic, which means that group level findings have low generalisability to the individual athlete. In other words, group level outcomes do not reflect the relevant variability between athletes. Research should therefore aim to conduct within-athlete analyses and practitioners should be careful when generalising group level findings to the individual athlete. Using clear visualisations and basic statistics (e.g., Z-scores), TSL continues developing tools that support practitioners in analysing individual trends in players’ data.

The effect of bio-banding on technical and tactical indicators of talent identification in academy soccer players

– Towlson et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

Another great study of Chris Towlson on the effects of bio-banding in youth football. Bio-banding is the grouping of youth players (11-15 years) into bands based on other characteristics than chronological age such as maturity status. In a previous study, Towlson showed that bio-banding had limited effect on physical variables but had a positive influence on several physiological parameters. In this article, Towlson extends his research by examining the influence of bio-banding on technical and tactical indicators that are considered important to assess talent in football. The main finding of the study is that bio-banding has no clear influence on these indicators.

Elite female football players’ perception of the impact of their menstrual cycle stages on their football performance. A semi-structured interview-based study

– Read et al.  in Science and Medicine in Football

This study shows the urgence of developing intervention methods to reduce the perceived negative impact of the menstrual cycle on elite female football players’ performance. Players mentioned several negative effects such as a decreased appetite, sleep quality, power, fatigue, and confidence. To combat these effects, the authors suggest that the use of simple measures such as basic self-management advice, education, and provision of sanitary products can be an important starting point to decrease or minimise the effect on players’ performance during training or match play.

Variation in physical performance of futsal players

– Ribeiro et al. in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

The effect of congested match schedules on players’ performance and injury risk is a hot research topic in elite football. In futsal, congested schedules are also present during tournaments or play-off competitions. However, there is limited research on the effect of match congestion on players’ physical performance, probably because it has only recently been possible to measure the activities of players during matches (i.e., using inertial measurement units with ultrawideband tracking system technology). This study is one of the first to show that, on average, congested fixtures did not affect the physical performance of futsal players. However, because the study showed considerable heterogeneity in players’ responses to congested fixtures, an individual approach is required to detect meaningful within-player variability throughout the season.

Hamstring injury patterns in professional male football: a systematic video analysis of 52 cases

– Gronwald et al.  inBritish Journal of Sports Medicine

The analysis of video footage contains useful information that helps understanding the etiology of acute injuries. This study analysed the video footage of 52 hamstring injuries (type 1) and confirmed that rapid movements with high eccentric demands of the posterior thigh are related to the occurrence of hamstring injuries.

We end our overview with two review studies.

A narrative review by Rossi et al. about the use of machine learning to forecast injuries in football.
A scoping review by McCalman et al. about the methods used for skill assessment in youth football.

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

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