Latest football science research

November 2021 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:

Managing the training process in elite sports: From descriptive to prescriptive data analytics

– Houtmeyers, Jaspers & Figueiredo in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

Let’s start with some TSL-involved research. We are happy to share a new open access article that we wrote in collaboration with Pedro Figueiredo from the Portuguese Football Federation and the University Institute of Maia.

In the article, we propose a conceptual framework to guide data analytics in elite sports. We discuss current practices and we highlight developmental needs to improve the use of data to support training process decisions.

We are always interested to hear your feedback!

Adaptive athlete training plan generation: An intelligent control systems approach

– Connor, Beato & O’neill in Journa of Science and Medicine in Sport

This article is a great step towards the last stage of our proposed conceptual framework, i.e., prescriptive analytics.

In this stage, data are analysed to drive decisions to plan and adjust the training process. Prescriptive analytics takes substantial amounts of data and possible situations and provides a series of possible outcomes and the paths to these and, especially, to the “best” possible outcome.

In the article of Connor et al, an interesting method is presented to adapt training plans based on an intelligent control systems approach.

Does prevention pay off? Economic aspects of sports injury prevention: A systematic review

– Lutter et al. in British Journal of Sports Medicine

The most important reason why sports organisations implement injury prevention strategies is to protect the health of players. The second reason will be related to the economic advantages of keeping players injury-free.

This article of Lutter and colleagues reviews the cost-benefit analysis of injury prevention strategies from an economic perspective. A useful contribution to improve the acceptance of injury prevention regardless of the financial resources of your club.

Perceiving, reporting and managing an injury – perspectives from national team football players, coaches, and health professionals

– Vella et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

To guide future research, and to identify developmental needs in the practical setting, it is important to know the perceptions of the end-users in the process of interest.

This article surveyed 7 players, 3 coaches and 3 health professionals from the Maltese national football team about injury perception, reporting and management. One of the main findings of this study is that the end-users all considered human interaction a key aspect of all processes within injury surveillance.
Communication is key!

Determining age-specific velocity thresholds for elite youth female soccer players

– Harkness-Armstrong et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

In team sports, it is common to monitor the distance or number of efforts above a certain velocity threshold. The selection of velocity thresholds is often arbitrary and not customised for the specific population. It can be expected that velocity thresholds for parameters such as high-speed running are lower for youth and women players than for adult men players.

Therefore, this article aims to identify optimal age-specific velocity thresholds for under-14 and under-16 elite youth female soccer players.

Change of direction frequency off the ball: new perspectives in elite youth soccer

– Morgan et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

Physical training programs in team sports are based on the performance determinants of the sport. These determinants are inferred from the analysis of physical match data.

Previous studies in football have reported the distance that players cover in total (e.g., around 10km per match) or above a certain velocity threshold (e.g., 1 km above 20km/h). This study aims to report the change of direction frequency of the ball by analysing video footage of 24 elite youth football players (average age 19 years).

The study also investigates the influence of player position, leg dominance and anthropometrics on change of direction performance of these players.

We will be back in December with an overview of research published in November.

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