AbstractThis overview draws together the findings from three projects, each exploring the implementation of strength and conditioning (S&C) practices in professional football, and how these practices are applied in the real-world setting. The overview combines the findings to explore the relationships between the different projects and aims to build a more comprehensive understanding of the three concepts in this particular context.
This portfolio consists of three projects. Project one comprises of an in-depth questionnaire of 51 high level S&C, sports science and medical practitioners’ currently working in male football. The questionnaire focused on examining staff structure, qualifications, the S&C practices currently implemented by practitioners’, with reference to programming, use of technology, the skills required for successful coaching, challenges faced and opinions on the future of strength and conditioning research. The outcome of the survey allowed the creation of two separate published research papers (Beere et al., 2020; Beere & Jeffreys 2021).
Project two examined injury occurrence in professional football players over two consecutive pre-season phases at one football club. The unique aspect of this project was that on-field training load was the same in both pre-seasons, with the implementation of a structured S&C programme the only intervention in the second. In addition,the same 20 players were included. The findings revealed that the inclusion of an S&C programme during the 2nd pre-season phase reduced soft tissue incidence, average severity,and total severity in elite football players.
Project three explored the content and delivery of an S&C programme across a full football season. Isometric strength testing was used to monitor the changes in maximal isometric force and rate of force development capabilities in response to the concurrent training programme and match play. Findings highlighted that force-specific changes can occur at different phases of the season, in response to differing density of match and S&C practice. Additionally,results highlighted the requirement to view changes on the individual level as well as the overall group change. Importantly, the results also showed for the first time that strength can be improved in professional footballers within the context of a full competitive season.
Together, the results of the three projects were utilised to develop a greater understanding of the process applied by practitioners, and provided two practical case study examples highlighting the use of S&C in elite male football. Results were made available to the wider S&C community for the first time (project one) and provided many previously unreported findings (project one and three). The novel findings reported in project three showed for the first time that strength and rate of force development can be improved across a competitive season. This not only challenges previous research, but also gives practitioners’ evidence to chase strength and RFD gains in-season as well as pre-season.
There are many aspects to a S&C practitioners’ role in a professional football club. The aim of this portfolio was to bring together a number of these aspects to provide a detailed body of evidence for myself and others to utilise in the context of their practice. Thus, the overview provides an empirical basis for a new way of understanding applied S&C research in senior professional male football and suggests a practical way forward for developing practices in this domain.
|Date of Award||2023|
|Supervisor||Karl New (Supervisor) & Kate Louise Williams (Supervisor)|