Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Player Perceptions of Artificial Turf

The use of artificial turf (AT) playing fields continues. Despite recent research on performance and health issues surrounding AT, debate over injury risks and heat still swirl around the topic of “playing on plastic”. The safe use of AT is a complex issue and perceptions can influence how players perform as well as their susceptibility to injury. A recent study shows that professional players generally view AT negatively and feel that it raises the risk of injury and results in more delayed-onset muscle and joint soreness. Some of their perceptions may be rooted in evidence while some may not. However, it is important for coaches and trainers to understand how players feel about playing and training on AT.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Balance, Fatigue and Carbohydrates

Over the past few years, coaches and researchers have been asking how balance affects different athletes. For sports such as gymnastics, the need for balance is obvious. In other sports like soccer, research shows that the ability to maintain balance also influences performance during cutting and changing directions. We also know that balance plays an important role in injury risk. Balance results as a response to various sensory inputs – both visual and mechanical. The central nervous system (CNS) processes this information then activates the appropriate muscles to reposition the body and/or to stabilize a joint. When the CNS cannot respond appropriately, players may fall or they may sprain or tear ligaments. Thus, a loss of balance is a key to players playing well and staying healthy. Two recent studies examined the relationship between fatigue and balance in young athletes. The first shows the extent to which fatigue disrupts balance while the second suggests that carbohydrates may be a solution to maintaining balance during a match.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 NSCAA Convention Recap

Thanks to everyone who attended my session on the recovery diet.  It was a full house with some very good questions from the audience and from the Twitter feed.  I want to thank the NSCAA for inviting me and giving me a change to "bridge the gap" between science and performance.

If you weren't able to attend, a recording of my presentation can be found HERE.

Also, the PowerPoint slides that I used can be found HERE.

    Friday, January 3, 2014

    Stressed Out: Daily Hassles Can Increase Injury Risk

    Be they youth or adult, many soccer players feel the stress of everyday life. Life events and how well the player copes can create worry, anxiety and mental fatigue, all of which affect concentration and effort on the field. Previous research shows that stress from major life events can also raise the risk of injury. Stress and anxiety also comes from smaller, daily events or hassles. For example, a college player finding the time to study for mid-term exams, meet a class project due date and focus on an upcoming match may experience significant daily stress. On the other hand, small victories in the classroom can lift a player’s sprits. A group of Swedish researchers focused on how these smaller, daily stressors have on injury risk. They find that that daily hassles and daily uplifts can make an athlete more or less susceptible to injury.

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    Is Home Advantage Really an Advantage?

    In all sports, teams strive to gain home field advantage. The consensus is that playing in the home stadium, in front of the home crowd offers a distinct advantage. In the 2012 Olympics, many feel that England’s success was due in part to their athletes competing on home soil and in front of the home crowd. In soccer, consideration of home field advantage is so great that away goals are given more weight in two-leg fixtures. Is the confines of the home venue truly an advantage or is this simply a misconception? Researchers from Spain and Portugal looked at 10 years worth of domestic league tables to find out if there is actually an advantage to playing at home.

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    New Book: Soccer Coaching and the Web: A Guide to Support Player Development

    The basis of player development has always been face to face interaction between the coach and the player, but our analysis of feedback from over 500 practicing Soccer Coaches at all levels in Europe, Asia and North America, clearly shows that this is not the only way coaches are now engaging with players. Robin Russell (CEO, SportsPath) has developed a first ever Guide for Soccer Coaches on how to use the web to support the development of their players. He explores WHICH Web Tools coaches use, WHY and HOW they use them.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    The Advantages of High-Intensity Interval Training

    Soccer is a unique sport where the average player covers up to 7 miles per games by running forward, backward, and sideways. Intermittent sprints are quite frequent, with players performing them around every 90 seconds. Players may also change directions nearly 1,000 times a match. Whether it is walking, jogging, or sprinting, some type of movement is always occurring. Given that the length and intensity of movements are somewhat random, it is very difficult to make a fitness-training program that adequately mimics the physical demands that are required of a soccer match. Traditional methods of fitness training such as going on a long distance running do not mimic the physical demands of a match, and thus may not be the most effective training method for soccer players. A more progressive training regime that has been labeled as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become popular amongst athletes in order to increase their fitness capacity.

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Match Analysis and the Recovery Process

    Match analysis has become an important tool in assessing team performance. Knowing team and opponent tendencies, individual player performance indicators, and markers of fatigue can help the coach or manager formulate match strategies and pinpoint team and individual weaknesses. Thus, it is not surprising that sport scientists are very interested in how match analysis can be used to improve their team and move them up the league table. In a new study, researchers at the Université Lille Nord de France and Lille Métropole Football Club took a different look at match analysis. They compared match analysis data to various performance indicators measured during three days of recovery. They found several interesting relationships between various player movements and prolonged decrements in physical performance. Their results have important implications for understanding the recovery process as well as preventing potential injury.

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    2014 World Conference on Science and Soccer

    One on the goals of the Science of Soccer Online is to bridge the gap between researchers who study the science behind the game and coaches who want to train their players using cutting-edge methods and techniques. In 2014, the 4th World Conference on Science and Soccer (WCSS) will be held for the first time in the United States. The conference will bring together individuals who are interested in the study and/or practical performance of soccer players, including sports scientists, coaches, strength and conditioning specialists, sports physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, professors and students. The overall goal is to bring some of the world’s best scientists, coaches, and practitioners into a conversation about how research can improve performance on the pitch.

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    NSCAA Live Chat

    In case you missed our Live-Chat with the NSCAA, you can watch a replay HERE.

    This Wednesday (Oct 2) at 12:00 (ET), I will be joining the NSCAA for a Live-Chat.  The topic of the chat will be "Winning From the Inside Out: Nutrition and Soccer Players".  Our focus will be on pre-match nutrition - what to eat and when to eat it.  Please join us.  NSCAA members and non-members are invited.  Use this LINK to RSVP.