Modern football? Leicester City!

Sport scientific findings as the measurement of all things in the Premier League
BBC Sport allows looking behind the scenes of a singular, exceptional football experiment

The English football wonder from Leicester will not only enter football history as an unprecedented triumph of an underdog team. It is above all a milestone of modern sport sciences and an unprecedented triumph of modern football.

A blatant outsider triumphs thanks to an ingenious, holistic professional sport system based on scientific findings and with the focus on optimal performance of professional players, rather than the subjective state of trainers. A sentence like “We have always done it that way” from authoritarian deciding trainers seems to have been turned upside down through the consequent application of the latest training scientific findings. The mastermind on his specific area decides about a player’s optimal usability. The fitness coach is just as important as the mental trainer or at last the responsible trainer who puts everything together in the end. This affords a holistic team and club performance, which asks for minds thinking alike.

The football world is rubbing their eyes and is witnessing what can be succeeded on the highest level when consequently applying the latest findings, even with a Premier League Team: the absolute football summit. Peak performers do have a radical air surrounding them. Looking behind the scenes reveals: Contrary to all basic football laws Leicester City has “put all deep-rooted rules to its paces” and modernized every detail, which has been provided by current findings of training sciences.

Data and facts are impressive: Leicester City is the one team in the Premier League with the least player injuries. It can refer to the least players in the pool that we used during a season. This indicates that the team’s main players hardly need any breaks. Surely this is due to a very comfortable condition. Leicester was thrown out of the cup competition early on in the season. Thus, the team was able to solely focus on the championship. Nevertheless, it is striking that the style of Leicester City is full of the exhausting football tempo, which normally comes with a high injury rate. But with Leicester City? Wrong!

This is why the question about the training method comes into focus. Leicester City has intensively questioned and changed the conventional basic football rules and – initially without being noticed by the public – has caused a football revolution. Based on the hypothesis that hamstring-muscle injuries (posterior leg muscles) occur most frequently, the training focus was set on a consistent strengthening and prevention of the player pool. This implies that at the end of every training week special sprint training sessions are selectively included, which are adapted to the physical stress intensity of each player. If for example a midfielder uses his hamstring muscles rather seldom in a brief but sudden way, an additional preventive training module is added, to strengthen exactly this muscular area.

And for all of those who still laugh at correct nutrition in football, Leicester City will also appear to be one of the most eccentric among the top teams: To mobilize all of the players’ energy, the nutrition department serves beetroot shots just before each game – these shots are also know from America’s smoothy trend, which in the meantime as unprecedentedly overrun Germany.

Control freaks also get their money’s worth with Leicester City: Special focus is on the regeneration of players. Next to strict weekly schedules a 48 hour regeneration phase was included and one free day in the middle of the week was “prescribed”. The actual regeneration of each player was scrutinized and observed. This happens on the training field with the help of a data collecting GPS vest, which makes intensities, acceleration, changes of direction etc. transparent. These data are directly transferred to the training session happening at the same time, which may result in taking out a player completely from an exercise, if he exceeds his current physical stress intensity. To compare the subjective condition of the player with the electronically collected data, questionnaires on the personal feeling of one’s condition were additionally filled out. Items like sleep behavior, feedback on training sessions or other factors lead to a holistic picture on the current state of the player.

A completely new aspect and all of the team’s pride is its cold chamber. It offers quick regeneration of the players, who can regenerate up to 4 minutes at a temperature as low as -135°− a dry cold that pleasant to the skin. It is proven that this leads to positive sleep behavior during the night of that day and the one of the following day. Additionally, the players are usually massaged with ice packs after each training and game. Furthermore, a lot can be said about the mental team work and additional factors, which have changed the club to an internationally recognized showcase.

Dream or football reality? This Premier League triumph has opened a new “chapter” of modern football. Proffac has followed this “chapter” for a while with growing enthusiasm and thus receives great affirmation for their own work. Football future will step onto a new path and many of our players will (be allowed to) experience these developments very closely.

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Leicester City: The Science behind their Premier League title. By Alistair Magowan. BBC

Sport. May 2016