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Science and football: a review of applied research in the football codes
Written by Thomas Reilly and David Gilbourne of Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
This article reviews various scientific researches being carried out all over the world to better understand the football codes and improve them. Over the last two decades there has been a growth in research directly related to football. Although most of this research is focused on soccer (association football), there has been a steady increase in publications related to the other football codes. There is evidence of more systematic training and selection influencing the anthropometric profiles of players who compete at the highest level. Fitness is being optimized to cope with match demands while accommodating the need for specific requirements of positional roles. The football codes were traditionally viewed as being inappropriate for scientific investigations. Less than a quarter of a century ago, the environment of the most popular of the football codes (association football or soccer) was one in which the scientist was likely to be greeted 'at worst with suspicion and hostility and at best with muted skepticism'. The First World Congress of Science and Football in 1987 represented a major step forward in effecting a link between theory and football practice, being the first occasion when representatives of all the football codes came together for a common purpose. Since then there has been a systematization of sports science support for football teams, especially those that operate at professional and elite levels. Also, a body of knowledge in 'science and football' has been created where previously there was a reliance on translating the knowledge base in the sport and exercise sciences to address problems specific to football. In contrast to the previous generation of researchers, current investigators have...
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