Fitness of Premier League Footballers
Alex Johnson looks at the evidence to show how the fitness of Premier League footballers has improved over the last decade.
The fitness of a Premier League footballer has never seemed to feel so important. With so many teams wanting to play a high-intensity pressing game, players need to be fit to carry out their manager's instructions.
Looking at how far a footballer has run is one of the simplest ways to measure how much fitness levels have improved.
Back in the 2005/06 season, the average distance run by a Premier League footballer ranged between a little over six miles and seven miles per game. Now, six-and-a-half miles would be considered the minimum average a player will run in a game.
Burnley is an excellent example of how much they run in a game. Burnley winger George Boyd has twice run over eight miles in a game this season. On Boxing Day, and then two days later with an unchanged team, Burnley ran for 74.2 miles and 74.5 miles, respectively.
The number of sprints a player makes during a game has also increased. According to Prozone stats, in the 2006/07 season, players averaged 330.2 sprints per game. Last season, this figure was 431.1 – an increase of over 30 per cent, with the recovery time between sprints also being reduced.
Knowing how far a team or player can run could undoubtedly help from a football betting point of view. It may make them more likely to score late goals or be more effective if a cup tie goes to extra time.
There has been an increase in emphasis on ensure players are fitter than ever before. Manchester United are among several Premier League clubs to have invested heavily in a new medical centre to improve players' fitness. Yet United have had over 50 different injuries this season.
Arsenal is one team that has regularly suffered from injuries, and there are a variety of reasons put forward for this. Much seems to lie in the intensity and type of training.
To improve a player's fitness, though, there has been an increase in how a programme is tailored to an individual. There is much more flexibility in a training programme than there used to be when everyone did the same. Ensuring a footballer eats the proper diet and has the right supplements is vital to boosting fitness.
The employment of strength and conditioning coaches and other roles within medicine has also helped make footballers fitter. And while the number of games a player must play may never be reduced, more emphasis has been placed on ensuring a footballer has the proper recovery. As Burnley showed, with the correct recovery procedure in place, it is possible to maintain the fitness levels just 48 hours later.
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About the Author
Alex Johnson is a freelance journalist who writes for Huffington Post and some of the larger sports publishers.