Physiology of the Beautiful Game

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicking into high gear, experts around the globe are closely analyzing the game more than ever.  Skill, tactics and smarts are key, but fitness and fatigue will play an integral role in the high altitudes of South Africa.

The guys at the Science of Sport do a wonderful job of breaking down players’ fitness levels as they look to answer the question, what exactly does it take to compete on the game’s biggest stage for ninety full minutes?

“A football result is determined by the interaction of too many factors to even quantify (this is why coaches are paid big money – their job is to quantify and then optimize them!).  Skill levels, strategy, opposition strategy, individual match-ups all contribute to the final result.  Each player has a (very) limited time to impact on the match and the margin between success and failure is impossibly small.

In this context, the physiology of football, especially with reference to fatigue becomes important.  If a player is 5% short of the level they need to be to complete a 90 minute match, given its demands, then that player may well concede the half-a-second, or the half-a-meter, to the opposition that leads to the game’s decisive moment.  Winning and losing are literally separated by these margins, and so it will come as no surprise that a good deal of work has been done on the physical demand of the game, so that coaches know what physiological level players need to be at to avoid fatigue.”

For more, check out the story here.

Photo: Getty Images

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