FOOTBALL PHYSIOLOGY

In the football principles postwe explained that football principles should be used to study scientific principles and not the reverse. Based on the football ability and football fitness characteristics, we can ask the scientific discipline of physiology if any scientific principles can contribute towards better actions, more actions, maintain good actions, and maintain many actions.

In Football Physiology Part 1, we discovered two physiology principles that can contribute to the football performance. At a higher level of play, there is an increased demand on the speed of action. Players occasionally need to execute actions at an absolute maximum. Cristiano Ronaldo has a very high maximum action. By comparison, a player like Sergio Busquets has a lower maximum action. If Cristiano Ronaldo makes an action in behind and Sergio Busquets has to track him, there is a very good chance that Cristiano Ronaldo will get to the ball first. However, we all know that Sergio Busquets is a top level football player. As mentioned in part 1, there is a difference between a players overall football ability and his maximum action. A maximum action only refers to the speed characteristic of an action, not the communication between players, or the position, moment, and direction of the action. In other words, a maximum action is only a small contributor to the overall quality of an action. Just ask Usain Bolt.

The football physiology characteristics Maximum Action and Maintain Maximum Actions can contribute to the speed component of better actions and maintaining good actions.

Nevertheless, we learned in Part 1 that there are, in fact, some physiology principles that can help players make better actionsmore actions, maintain good actions, and maintain many actions. In part 1, we learned that players that have higher maximum actions and can maintain their maximum actions for longer can also make slightly better actions and maintain good actions.

In the football fitness (capacity) post, we learned that there are three football fitness characteristics. Football fitness is a players ability to make football actions at 100% more frequently (higher tempo) and for longer. Players that can play at a high tempo and maintain that tempo for 90 minutes are very football fit. Next, we can ask if there is any scientific knowledge that can contribute to a players ability to play at a high tempo and maintain that tempo for 90 minutes.

Recovery Ability

The first football fitness characteristic is that at a higher level of play, players need to make more actions per minute. In other words, players need a higher quantity of actions. A higher quantity of actions means that players have less time to recover from their previous action. As a result, players have less time to ‘catch their breath’ between actions. In order to make actions at a higher frequency, players need to catch their breath more quickly between actions. 

Players that can make more actions per minute will raise the tempo of the match. A match that is played at a higher tempo means that players have less time to recover between football actions. Less time to recover means less time to ‘catch their breath’. A player that can ‘catch his breath more quickly’ will have less of a limitation on his ability to make more actions per minute.  In the science of training, a players ability to recover between actions is called recovery ability.

Players that want to raise the level of their recovery ability need to train themselves to catch their breath more quickly between actions. In order to have the chance to make more actions per minute, players need to learn to catch their breath more quickly. Therefore, the football physiology characteristic quicker recovery between actions can contribute to a players ability to make more actions per minute.

The ability to quickly recover between actions can contribute to the football fitness characteristic more actions per minute

Recovery Capacity

Of course, we don’t want players that can only play at a high tempo in the first half. We want players that can play at a high tempo for 90 minutes. One of the football fitness characteristics is maintaining many actions per minute. This means that players with a high level of football fitness can play football at a high tempo for 90 minutes. In Physiology language, playing at a high tempo in the last stages of a match means maintaining the ability to ‘catch your breath quickly’. This is called recovery capacity. A player that is limited by his recovery capacity will be unable to maintain many actions per minute. 

Players that want to raise the level of their recovery capacity need to train themselves to catch their breath quickly between actions for longer. Players need to learn to maintain their ability to recover between actions. The football physiology characteristic that can contribute to maintaining many actions is maintaining quicker recovery between actions.

The ability to maintain quick recovery between actions can contribute to the football fitness characteristic maintain many actions per minute

The Football Physiology Characteristics

Improving a football players performance means improving his football ability and football capacity. Improving a players football ability means helping the player make better actions. In other words, it is helping the player start each game with a slightly better 100%. Improving a players football capacity means improving his football fitness. A players football fitness is his ability to make more actions at 100% per minute, maintain 100% actions for longer, and maintain many actions at 100% for longer.

Football Physiology is not the same thing as football fitness. Physiology is only part of a players football fitness. At best, improving a players physiology can only contribute towards the football performance characteristics, it cannot guarantee their improvement. In this two part series (Part 1 here), the four football physiology characteristics were defined. A players maximum action can contribute to better actions by improving the speed of action. A player that can maintain maximum actions for longer can contribute to maintaining good actions by learning to maintain the speed of his actions. A player that can recover more quickly between actions has a higher chance of making more actions per minute. A player that can maintain his ability to recover quickly between actions has a higher chance of maintaining many actions per minute throughout the match. Together, these football physiology characteristics can contribute to the overall football performance.

The football physiology characteristics

Why Football Physiology and Not Football Fitness??

In the football performance post on football fitness (capacity), football fitness was defined as how frequently and for how long players can make football actions at 100%. This is different from a players football ability. The football ability of a player says something about how well they can perform the CDE cycle (communication, decision making, executing decisions). The football fitness (capacity) of a player says something about how frequently, how close to 100%, and for how long someone can play football. It doesn’t determine the quality of communication, decision making, or execution. Nevertheless, the football ability and football capacity (fitness) of a player determine his overall football performance.

This two part series on the football physiology characteristics has stressed that the physiology components are only part of the definition of football fitness. Why is this the case? The reason why improvements in football physiology are only part of a players football fitness is because there is more to physiology than the heart and lungs. The brain, and even the muscles, are also part of a players physiology. In upcoming posts, the role of the brain in football fitness will be described. The brain is also part of a players physiology which is why quicker recovery between actions is only part of the definition of football fitness. It is not the same thing as football fitness. At best, improving a players ability to catch his breath between actions can only contribute towards more actions per minute, but it cannot guarantee it. As a result, football fitness is more than the contribution of the heart and lungs inside a football context. The role of the brain is also important.