Sport Science Overview for Football [2022]

I’ve made a quick video regarding sport science for football or soccer.

It can be applied to most sports though, including MMA.

I’ve found most coaches to be pretty old school – generally angry w*nkers with no ability to coach players on the football pitch, other than to shout vague insults born out of frustration.

Even at a youth level, this is very common and can suck out all of the enjoyment of the game for kids. Educate yourselves and read on, please!

Goal Setting in Football

  • Outcome Goals – What do you want to achieve?

Goal setting – use outcome goals, the result you want, but be sure to combine them with process goals – how you will achieve the result.

So for MMA, you might want to be ufc champ but 2023. That’s your outcome goal. Macro outcome goal.

You’ll also want more specific outcome goals, like learning the technique and acquiring flexibility to be able to do a head kick.

As a football coach, look to set outcome goals for the team and the individual players.

For example you might want to be league champions, and you might want a specific player to work on shooting with his left foot.

Give your goals a deadline. Some goals will have predefined deadlines, whilst ‘improving shooting with my left foot’ might be given a deadline of say October 30th. You’ll also need to figure out a way of testing if the goal has been obtained. Maybe design a shooting drill that can be performed by the player in question, to assess his or her progress.

  • Process Goals – How are you going to achieve your Outcome Goals?

You’ll need to work backwards and set process goals regarding what specific training you will do, nutrition, psychology and what psychology practices you’ll do, for how long, how often etc.

The process goals need to be specific and time phased too.

For MMA, one process goal might be – drill ballistic hamstring stretches for 10 minutes everyday, after a 10 minute warm up. This will help with the specific outcome goal of being able to headkick a 6ft guy.

For football, a process goal might be to train using plyometrics and resistance training exercises three times per week.

I also talk a bit, in the main video above, about maintaining muscle temperature at half time, using supplements like alpha gpc for focus, and adaptogens for recovery.

Make feedback Specific and actionable

Feedback should always be specific and should never take the form of angry, vague rants – unless a player is extremely arrogant.

If a player is introverted, then poor performance is likely due to anxiety and a rant will make things worse.

Make feedback and player management in general, specific to the personality of each player.

“Bring solutions, not problems”

If a player is making a mistake consistently, or an aspect of his/her game is poor – explain this, but also, make sure you can offer a solution, such as a training drill, to help the player develop.

Let Players Take Risks

According to thestatzone, aiming a penalty down the middle is the most likely way to score.

According to marketing psychologist Rory Sunderland, players don’t often aim down the middle, because there’s a risk of looking stupid.

If you aim for the corner and the keeper saves it, you’re unlucky. If you aim for the middle and miss, you’re an idiot.

People tend to aim for damage-limitation, rather than what is most likely to bring the best outcome. This tends to be a problem with attacking, creative players low in confidence – why are they low in confidence? Often it’s because they made a mistake and get bollocked for it.

Maths Statistics & Football

Quick example of using maths to inform tactical decisions.

Let’s say you are playing 1980s Everton, and they have the 2 best strikers in the league, who have, let’s say a 50% chance of scoring when they get an “open chance” at goal.

On the other hand, your strikers are not so good and only have a 10% chance of scoring with an “open chance” (Everton also have the best keeper in the world – Big Nev).

In order to score 1 goal, Everton (probably) need 4 chances, whereas you will need 10.

The more open the game is, the more likely therefore, your team is to lose.

If each team has 10 chances, you might score 1 goal, but Everton are likely to score 5.

Your best chance of a ‘result’ therefore, is to try and keep Everton down to 2 or less chances.

So your tactics might be to flood your defence.

If a team has videos and statistical software, they can make “data driven decisions” about almost everything from what type of corners to take, throw ins etc.

This data could be expanded if they have access to data from other teams and leagues too.

Temperature Regulation

the most efficient way to cool the core temperature is to add ice or something cool to the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and or the face. These areas are collectively called the “glabrous skin“.

To warm up the core, apply something warm to those areas instead.

The worst place to apply a cool pack is the neck as that will feedback to the brain that you are cold – which will in turn cause your core to heat up!

Deacceleration is just as Important as Acceleration

Focus on speed off the mark, but also the ability to slow down and change direction.

More information on this in my other blog post about sprint training here.

MICE Not Necessarily RICE is Best for Recovery

I’ve made a separate blog post about football fitness testing here.

About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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