|SPORTS SCIENCE IN FOOTBALL|
Q/ David, you have a degree in Sports Science and an Advanced Certificate in Science and Football, briefly what does the latter entail ?
The Advanced Certificate in Science and Football was a postgraduate qualification
which basically involved studying many areas of the game. These included
subjects such as coaching, psychology, match analysis, physiology, skill
acquisition as well as others. The main emphasis was on how to apply knowledge
of these scientific areas to football in order to improve individual and
I feel that especially at the higher levels, there is a very fine line
between winning and losing. Therefore, anything that can help a coach
to improve his team's performance is vital. I feel that if a coach gains
knowledge of a particular scientific area (for example, physiology) and
learns how to use and apply this knowledge to improve his team it can
make the difference between winning and losing. If a coach can do this
with many or all of the scientific areas associated with football, I think
it would help to create a very successful team.
I think that the current England team is a fine example of how sports
science can improve football. I have heard that Sven Goran Erikkson (manager)
is a strong advocator of science and football and has recently employed
a sport psychologist as one of his backroom staff. I think that it is
no coincidence that the England team seems to be playing with increased
confidence since Svenn took charge and giving David Beckham the captaincy
may well have been a psychological stroke of genius given some of his
performances since then and the effect he has had on the team. On a personal
level, I recently did some research for the English FA into the physiological
differences between 3v3 and 5v5 small-sided games in youth soccer. My
findings allowed me to advise the FA on which game would be most beneficial
to youngsters in terms of improving technique while avoiding high levels
of physical strain.
A/ Yes, I
feel that at the top levels coaches are now realising the benefits of
sports science support and are beginning to employ people who can help
in these areas. However, I feel that there are also many coaches out there,
especially at the lower levels, who are perhaps a bit set in their own
ways and do not want to listen to people who try to advise them about
the benefits of sports science. I feel that one of the main reasons for
the positive change in attitude at the higher levels of the English game
may have been the large influx of foreigners who have brought knowledge
of the benefits of sports science with them.
A/ Here is
an example. Feedback can be any information given by the coach to the
player concerning their performance. For example, when taking a session
on shooting a coachs feedback to a player could be 'keep your head
over the ball next time' or 'shoot across the goalkeeper'. Research on
the feedback given to players during coaching sessions has shown that
when players are learning a new skill, feedback should be given frequently
to improve the performance of the skill. Once the player is performing
the skill efficiently and has a good idea of what the coach requires him
to do, the coach should reduce the amount of feedback he is giving. This
forces the player to think about his own performance and correct his own
mistakes and therefore is beneficial to learning. So, to cut a long story
short, give lots of feedback to the players when you are introducing them
to a new skill and once they are performing to an adequate level, reduce
the amount of information you are giving them so that they can learn and
retain the skill.
A/ Yes, definitely. I feel that through scientific methods a player can learn how to become mentally strong. Things such as confidence, concentration, goal-setting and many other psychological areas can be worked on to make the player the best he can be. Also, knowledge of physiology and nutrition can allow the player to know how to fuel his body correctly and how to get the very best out of his fitness training.
David Platt is currently studying part-time for an MPhil in Sports Science at South Bank University (UK) having previously obtained a BSc degree in Sports Science and an Advanced Certificate in Science and Football. He has coached for seven years and played semi-professional football. He is currently looking to gain employment in football as he is very keen to further his career in this area. If you are interested in contacting David about the possibility of soccer-related work or this article, please do not hesitate to e-mail him on email@example.com.