How research is influencing the beautiful game
Football is a sporting, cultural and economic phenomenon with a worldwide reach but has long been resistant to evidence-based practice. LJMU’s Football Exchange has transformed the landscape of football research/analysis in a way which has impacted on all levels of the game both at home and overseas.
The Football Exchange (FEx), launched in 2010 and built on the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences’ extensive experience in football-related research, brought together an interdisciplinary group responsible for research, consultancy and knowledge exchange with the football industry.
Research from the FEx has been instrumental in revolutionising performance analysis capability within the sport. Working with Prozone Ltd., the pioneering sports performance analysts, the FEx was able to establish the reliability of the company’s automated match-analysis tool, leading to its acceptance and uptake across the industry. The Prozone client base includes 100% of the English Premier League football clubs as well as substantial international clients (e.g. Qatar, China). These tools have transformed intervention strategies for the performance plans of players, teams and organisations and Prozone is now the world’s leading computerised performance analysis system. The FEx and Prozone have further strengthened their relationship in a number of ways: through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership funded by the ESRC and Technology Strategy Board (£144k); and by jointly developing and delivering “Performance Analysis in Football” courses at three educational levels (over 1,185 delegates have been trained to date with the first overseas course delivered in the US in 2014). The success of the partnership has been recognised by the Educate North Awards as FEx and Prozone were recipients of the Commercial Engagement Award.
Football Exchange research has also helped elite clubs to optimise players’ recovery and performance and reduce the incidence of injury. Research around the planning and monitoring of training load has been key to developing a specialist muscle recovery and regeneration programme at Manchester United FC which has increased player match availability (up 14%) over the last three domestic seasons, and instrumental in reducing overall injuries (14%) and preventable injuries (16%) within another Premier League Club first team squad.
Find out more about the work of the Football Exchange.
Prozone and LJMU have conceptualised and jointly delivered a range of educational courses for students and industry practioners which is helping raise standards at all levels in the industry. The work we have pioneered with LJMU has led to the creation of a specific Education team within Prozone tasked with developing and growing an international range of services and business partnerships in this area.
Furthermore, FEx research has also played a significant part in the development and delivery of mentoring programmes, formal academic training for staff in the industry and coach education materials for the Football Association (FA).
The FEx has delivered core components and revised the entire syllabus of the FA’s Applied Football Science and Conditioning Award which directly shapes the activity of the science and medicine community within the sport.
The FA has worked with LJMU in the past two years to develop content for courses in the new Physical Performance pathway utilising research undertaken by experts in RISES.
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