Latest football science research

October 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. However, these days you could be overwhelmed by the amount of monthly published research.

This is our Topsportslab selection of research published in September 2021:

Development of a revised conceptual framework of physical training for use in research and practice

– Jeffries et al. in Sports Medicine

This article presents a second update of the ‘training process framework’ originally proposed by Impellizzeri, Rampinini & Marcora in 2005. The article discusses the conceptual distinction between external load, internal load, training effects and sports performance outcomes. We recommend using this framework as a reference guide to organise load monitoring practices in your environment.

Load monitoring practice in elite women association football

– Luteberget & Houtmeyers et al. in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living

We are happy to present some of our own funded research. Based on a previous version of the above mentioned framework, we conducted a survey study to describe the load monitoring practices in elite women football in Europe.

The research interest in women’s football is clearly on the rise. For example, a new research initiative was launched by FIFA, ADIDAS and the sport-science journal ‘Science and Medicine in Football’ to stimulate research publications about women’s football. Our study already shows that practitioners in women’s football have a vested interest in load monitoring but are still facing financial and organisational constraints.

Because Topsportslab recognises the importance of gender-specific prescription and monitoring of physical training, Topsportslab is currently developing specific tools for women athletes (e.g., menstrual cycle). Women teams that have an interest in such a tool may always contact us to have a free demo of the platform.

Muscle fibre typology as a novel risk factor for hamstring strain injuries in professional football: A prospective cohort study

– Lievens et al. in Sports Medicine

Another study from a Belgian research group. Lievens et al. from the University of Gent determined the muscle fiber typology of 95 elite football players. They demonstrated that players with a high percentage of fast-twitch fibers have a 5.3-fold increase in hamstring injury risk compared with players that have a high percentage of slow-twitch fibers. This could be attributed to the fast-twitch fibers’ lower resistance to fatigue. However, more research is needed to clarify the causal mechanisms between muscle fibre typology and hamstring injury risk.

Post-exercise recovery: Cooling and heating, a periodized approach

– Thorpe in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living

Interested in optimising players’ recovery? This opinion article of Robin Thorpe provides useful guidelines for the application of cooling and heating strategies during the recovery period. Thorpe is an experienced practitioner and performed a PhD trajectory at Manchester United Football Club about the monitoring of short-term fatigue in football.

Estimating is not measuring: The use of non-invasive estimations of somatic maturity in youth football

– Fransen et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

This article critically discusses the different methods for measuring somatic maturity in youth football. Given the track record of the authors in this domain, we recommend reading this article.

Understanding the FIFA quality performance reports for EPTS: From science to practice

– Oliva-Lozano et al. in Science and Medicine in Football

In 2017, FIFA launched the quality program for electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS, for example GPS systems). This program was initially aimed at guaranteeing the safety of players in wearing these devices. However, since 2019, the program also provides a quality mark to each system related to the accuracy of the data produced by the system. In this article, Oliva-Lozano et al. critically discuss the criteria that are used in this program, focusing on the methodological problems behind these criteria.

We end this overview with two review articles that may be of interest to you. Ben Desbrow reviewed the evidence about youth athlete development and nutrition (Sports Medicine). Nicholson et al. provided an overview of the research regarding the training of medium- to long-distance sprint performance in football code athletes.

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

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