According to a new study from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center published in the February 2004 volume of the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the relationship between player fitness and team success is not very strong. Teams with a higher jumping ability and leg extensor power did better in the league, while there was no such relationship with endurance. However, there was a strong trend showing a lesser chance of team success among the teams that incurred more injuries during the season.
|This study showed a strong trend for a lesser chance of team success among the teams that incurred more injuries during the season. |
In cooperation with the Department of Physiology, University of Iceland, the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center conducted a study to investigate the relationship between physical fitness and team success in football, and to test for differences in physical fitness between different player positions. Participants were 306 male football players from 17 teams in the two highest football divisions in Iceland. Just before the start of the 1999 football season, the following variables were tested: Maximal O2 uptake, body composition, leg extension power, jump height, and flexibility. Injuries and player participation in matches and training were recorded through the 4-month competitive season. Then team average physical fitness was compared with team success measured as the final league standing of the teams. Physical fitness was also compared between players in different playing position.
A significant relationship was found between team average jump height (countermovement jump and standing jump) and team success, and the same trend was also found for leg extension power. There was also a linear trend to less team success among the teams that incurred higher number of injury days during the season. Compared to outfield players, goalkeepers were taller and heavier, more flexible in hip extension and knee flexion, and they had higher leg extension power and a lower maximal O2 uptake. Little difference was found in physical fitness between strikers, midfielders and defenders.
The results indicate that jump height and leg extension power are important factors in team success, indicating that speed and acceleration are important qualities for football players. Because of the apparent association between a high number of days lost to injury and lack of team success, injury prevention should be a priority for the teams.
The primary investigator of this study was physical therapist and PhD student Árni Árnason, in cooperation with professor Stefán B Sigurðsson, Árni Guðmundsson, professor Ingar Holme, professor Lars Engebretsen and professor Roald Bahr.
Read the article here.