Science and Soccer

Science and Soccer

Science and Soccer

Science and Soccer


Written specifically with the sports science/physical education student and soccer coach in mind, this book provides a unique view of the application of sports science and coaching skills to soccer.


Football is the world's most popular form of sport, being played in every nation without exception. The most widespread code is association football or soccer. The sport has a rich history though it was formalized as we know it today by the establishment of the Football Association in 1863. The game soon spread to continental European countries and later to South America and the other continents. The world's governing body, the Federation of the International Football Association (FIFA), was set up in 1904 and the first Olympic soccer competition was held 4 years later. The United Kingdom (UK) won the final 2-0, defeating Denmark, another nation playing a leading role in the popularization of the game. Uruguay played host to the first World Cup tournament in 1930. This competition is held every 4 years and is arguably the tournament with the most fanatical hold on its spectators and television audiences. So far, only seven nations have won the tournament - Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Italy and France. Whilst they may represent the top teams at elite level, the popularity of the game is reflected in the millions who participate in soccer at lower levels of play.

1.1 Development of sports science

In recent years, there has been a remarkable expansion of sports science. The subject area is now recognized both as an academic discipline and a valid area of professional practice. Sports science is well respected within its parent disciplines, for example, biomechanics, biochemistry, physiology, psychology, sociology and so on. A new maturity became apparent as the sports sciences were increasingly applied to address problems in particular sports rather than to sports in general. One of these specific applications has been to soccer.

The applications of science to soccer predated the formal acceptance of sports science as an area of study in university programmes. South American national teams used specialists in psychology, nutrition and physiology in the preparation of squads for the major international tournaments from the early 1970s. The comprehensive systems of scientific support accessible to Eastern European athletes since the 1970s dwarfed the commitments of Western countries to top-level sport. The gulf was notably wide with respect to British soccer, where the sports scientist was more often than not shunned or at best frostily welcomed.

In the 1980s, it became apparent that the football industry and professionals in the game could no longer rely on the traditional methods of previous decades. Coaches and trainers were more open to contemporary scientific approaches to preparing for competition. Methods of management science were applied to organizing the big soccer clubs and the training of players could be formulated on a systematic basis. In general, the clubs that

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