What is sports science

Sir Alex Ferguson on sports science
Sports science is the biggest and most important change in my lifetime”.

What is sports science?
Sports science aims to apply scientific principles to sport and exercise to achieve optimal athletic performance. Over the years the study of science has developed a greater understanding of how the body responds to exercise within different environments and stimuli. The practical delivery of sports science then allows academy coaching staff to have more information to maximise each individual’s long term athletic development. Sports science allows us to use objective measures to assess, monitor and evaluate squad and individual strengths and weaknesses.

What we do?
The pressures of modern day football demands positive physical changes within the shortest period of time, therefore a professional lifestyle which mimics that of an elite athlete is required. This adopted lifestyle is not exclusive to training or match-days but also to the lifestyle away from the pitch. We strive to integrate this elite mentality from a young age within the academy. Furthermore the cohesive delivery of football and sports science allows us to maximise the athletic development of our academy players as they strive towards first team football.

The high intensity of football requires players to be physically and mentally well-conditioned to perform at a high level for 90 minutes. The intermittent nature of football elicits short, sharp sprints (accelerations and decelerations) interspersed with rapid changes of direction, jogging, walking, jumping and tackling. This means players must be able to work at very high levels for short bursts and then recover quickly in order to go again. Therefore periodised programs must be designed to deal with these requirements.

Maximising athletic development, by reducing injury rate, is a high priority within the academy. We aim to achieve this through collaboration with the academy medical staff and by utilising pre-habilitation protocols, strength and conditioning sessions, flexibility/ mobility and recovery aids. The sports science approach within the academy varies between individuals and between squads from under 11s to under 20s. A periodised program is set out at the beginning of the season for each age group and discussed with the coaching staff. Each aspect worked on in a training session will depend on the phase of training the players are in. Sessions will include practical delivery of: injury prevention, speed and agility, acceleration, deceleration, anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, proprioception, strength, power and flexibility/ mobility activity.

Coach education
The sports science staff provides coach education in the form of information booklets, video and practical in-service sessions. This approach ensures coaches and players have a clear understanding of how sports science can be incorporated into football training.

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