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The science of football - with Scott Robinson

Scott Robinson is a First Class Honours Sport Science graduate from the only five star rated Sports Science Research Institute in the UK; Liverpool John Moores University.

He has acquired a wide range of experience in both playing and coaching sport with a career high of representing Stoke City at youth level and coaching football at the International Youth Games.

Scott has previously been responsible for leading five sports scientists on placement with Blackburn Rovers' nutrition department.

He has completed sports science work for FIFA, where he travelled across Europe performing a multitude of sports science tests, and has also worked as a physical education teaching assistant at a high school in Cheshire.

Scott is currently undertaking a Masters of Science in Sports Physiology, also at LJMU, specialising in sports nutrition where his research focuses on assessing and enhancing the nutritional knowledge of elite level footballers.

Scott’s ultimate career aspiration is to work as a university lecturer and researcher in the sport and exercise science.

The physiological demands of football

The constitution of a footballer's diet, ie the proportion of carbohydrate, protein and fat, is an important consideration.

Obtaining optimal amounts of these macronutrients is essential to the modern day elite footballer for a host of reasons. However, research recommendations as to what is ‘optimal’ for performance is again varied, with an abundance of data suggesting relative proportions of these macronutrients to the diet of an elite level player.

Until further clarification prevails, a slightly sceptical stance to these recommendations should be adopted. Individual consideration is therefore essential.

Commonly regarded as an intermittent type sport, football incorporates frequent fluctuations between high and low intensity exercises.

Play heavily stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, with mean and peak heart rates at 85 and 98% of maximal values respectively, a mean oxygen uptake of 70% VO2 max and an average distance covered of 11 km during a typical game for an elite player (Drust, Atkinson, & Reilly, 2007).

Per player, an elite level game typically comprises of 1000-1500 discrete movement changes at a rate of every 5-6 seconds (Strudwick, Reilly, & Doran, 2002), 150-250 brief, intense exercise periods, 10-19 tackles, 9-13 headers, several physical challenges (Bangsbo, Mohr, & Krustrup, 2006), high intensity activity every 60 secs and maximal effort every 4 minutes (Bangsbo, Iaia, & Krustrup, 2007; Raven, Gettman, & Pollock, 2010).

The unpredictable nature of football is further underpinned by the unorthodox patterns of movements and the performance of specific skills which fluctuate in both intensity and duration and are frequently interspersed with recovery pauses when activity is light or the player is static (Drust, Reilly, & Cable, 2000).

Such dynamically changing exercise intensities warrant concern to the applicability of steady-state principles to the performance of a player.

Key point!

Variability in overall soccer performance is not merely reduced to fitness statistics but is instead a complex interaction of many different performance components and their interaction at the level of both player and team.

Football nutrition – An introduction

A multitude of factors determine the performance of a football player, one of which is their diet. 

It is imperative players are nutritionally well equipped; adequately manipulating their food and fluid intakes to successfully contend with the dynamic requirements of training and competition.

Optimal nutrition is of significant interest to the modern day elite footballer for several key reasons. Dietary requirements vary significantly across the season, with standard of competition and individual characteristics, amongst numerous of other factors.

There exists a plethora of data outlining typical energy intakes for an elite footballer.


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