Skip to content

Learning from the FIFA World Cup 2010

June 20, 2010

It’s the Fútbol/Soccer World Cup 2010 these days, and it’s hard not to hear the buzz of vuvuzelas or the screams of «¡Gol!» in this Copa Mundial.

What can the Ultimate community learn from the way soccer players train? Specialists from Athletes’ Performance gave the editors of Men’s Health a peek into how they are supporting world class athletes hit their performance gooooals in the FIFA 2010 World Cup.

While we’re on the topic of soccer, someone told me the other day that the “ideal” team size he had found experimentally (he works at a health-related startup) was somewhere around 6-8. And while the Lakers may have 5 on the court, and soccer players 10+1 on the field, Ultimate players are somewhere in the middle with ye old call “seven on the line”.

Researching team size, I came across this interesting soccer-study that looked at the “Effect of Team Size in Soccer on Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity” in Physical Activity 2004. From the abstract,

Moderate to vigorous physical activity [MVPA] was determined from activity kcal and used to compare soccer games of different team sizes. The results indicated that the mean percentage of MVPA was greater than 80% if each team included three or fewer players. However, if a team included five players or more the mean percentage of MVPA declined dramatically. Soccer games with three or fewer players per side provided enough activity to elicit cardiovascular endurance gains. Furthermore, due to the homogenous nature of the MVPA, all individuals received the benefit.

A good reason to play Mini [3 on 3]? =)

But back to the original article. Many strength coaches today still seem to debate front squats vs back squats, bilateral versus single-leg squats, but it does seem on the mark that bilateral squats are “functional” for cutting movements. The Men’s Health article points out,

In Hoff’s 2008 study, participants who did three squat sessions a week for 8 weeks saw a 5 percent increase in running economy, which means they used less energy to move on the field. That translates to over half a mile more covered in a match. Another benefit to strength training: It reduces your risk of soccer injury by 50 percent, according to a University of Maine study.


I’m a bit more interested in the second part given that most people who want to get stronger / more efficient will probably do barbell squats (rather than some mix of DL, goblet squat, step-ups / SLS–still trying to figure this out myself).

AFAICT the article is referencing this NSCA 1996 study, “Monitoring Injuries on a College Soccer Team: The Effect of Strength Training”. I don’t have access to the full text right now, will look into it further, but the main suggested contribution was

“This study recorded injury rate and classification in a men’s college soccer team over a 4-yr period. The yearly practice and game exposures for each athlete were also recorded. During the first 2 years none of the participants were involved in any strength training regimen. For Years 3 and 4 all participants were placed on a year-round strength training program. The incidence of injuries decreased following strength training, from 15.15 to 7.99 per 1,000 exposures. Changes in injury classification were also noted.”

50% decrease of injuries following [proper] strength training? Time to find a good strength coach and get started!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: