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Training Secrets of the World's Greatest Footballers: How Science is Transforming the Modern Game By James Witts

Release date: 01st July, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury

List Price: 15.99
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It may appear a tad peculiar for the author of a book focusing primarily upon sport science and its enthusiastic, if belated, adoption by the football industry to open with a discussion regarding VAR, but James Witts has a point to prove.

Will VAR’s forthcoming top-flight implementation go smoothly or will we become used to matches lasting at least 100 minutes? Many fans fear the latter, but Witts believes VAR’s introduction to the domestic game is a prime example of football “…wising up to the benefits of innovation.”

Though VAR could be described as innovative, if not frustrating, the progress made at most football clubs in the sports science field has had a dramatic impact. Indeed, it could be argued that if any additional evidence was needed to highlight football’s rapid commercial development, we need look no further than the staffing requirements most clubs have.

Where once a club’s ‘backroom’ staff comprised the manager, his assistant, a physio and a kit man, nowadays almost all clubs boast a sport science department where fitness and conditioning are analysed with scientific thoroughness by burgeoning teams of well-qualified people.

Witts gets into his stride when summarising this scientific revolution. “Today’s clubs have experts to help players run faster, recover faster and heal faster, “ he says. “Players are trained for their specific positions within a team based on analysis by sports scientists, who tell the coach how many sprints that role demands, over what distance and at what rate of acceleration. This data-led [analysis] is symptomatic of the age and is light years away from days gone by.”

Football clubs have embraced science in an attempt to give themselves a competitive edge, but also because investment in playing personnel has become so expensive. Players have become valuable assets and clubs prefer them to appreciate in value rather than to lose their market worth.

Witts concentrates primarily upon physical conditioning, training methods, equipment and nutritional strategies, but underpinning this scientific revolution are the game’s unique economics which will continue to encourage scientific analysis provided it offers a visible and frequent return on significant investments.


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