How science makes footballers better

Published on: 17 March 2023

Sports science has transformed numerous aspects of football, from how players train to how their in-game performances are monitored and more.

Several different disciplines contribute to sports science and have a significant impact on both physical health and the mental side of football.

Clubs across the world use sports science to underpin the work they do with their players with a view to giving themselves a vital edge against their opponents.

With that in mind, we take a look at how science is used by professional clubs to help footballers perform at the peak of their abilities.

Preparation & recovery

From understanding how to build muscle faster to helping players get the optimum amount of rest, science plays a key role in preparation and recovery in football.

Science is used to formulate personalised training plans to ensure that the workload undertaken by each player is suitable for their individual needs.

It also helps to inform other elements such as nutrition and supplementation, to help players get the correct number of vitamins and minerals each day.

Scientific research is also used to establish the perfect sleep conditions for players at home, helping them get the rest they need from the strain they place on their bodies.

Tracking systems

Modern day football training goes far beyond simply ordering the players to run around the football pitch and hope for the best.

Tracking systems embedded into wearable vests are used to monitor key body metrics to ensure that players are deriving the maximum benefit from training.

The technology can be used to tailor bespoke training routines for players, which can be extremely beneficial when they are returning from injury.

They system detects whether a player is over-compensating for an injury, thus helping to prevent them suffering a recurrence of the same problem.

Data analysis

Data is not only used to support training activities, but also plays an essential role in helping football coaches gain in-depth insights into player performance.

Science-based coaching aids such as Prozone have been around since the late 1990s and record key data on various performance metrics during a match.

Some of the bigger European clubs now use this data in real-time with a view to tweaking tactical systems if things are not going to plan.

Data analysis systems are also used to provide players with feedback after games, helping to highlight the things they did well and any areas in need of improvement.

Sports psychology

Professional football is a highly pressurised environment, with extensive media coverage meaning that player mistakes can be massively amplified.

The sport is a results-based business, meaning that players must be able to cope with the weight of expectations placed on their shoulders.

Many clubs employ sports psychologists to work with their players to ensure they have the mental tools in place to effectively handle the pressure.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is among the players who has successfully used this science-based approach to significantly improve his on-field performances.

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