What has changed in the Premier League in the last 22 years?

Off
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System

The FA Premier League has just started its 22nd season, and is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world. It is home to some of the best players on the planet (Falcao, Rooney, Fabregas, Toure etc.) and it is the place where the majority of young players wish to play. With the league generating so much financial revenue, it is interesting to see what some of this money has developed behind the scenes over the past 22 years. This article investigates and reviews some of the important changes that have been introduced into the league. blog 23 image

Introduction of Sport Science

Many believe that it was Sir Alex Ferguson who first embraced the idea of sport science and brought it into his management plans. The influence of sport science in the league has not gone unnoticed – Players are getting bigger, stronger, and faster.

 

Areas such as:

  • Training
  • Gym conditioning
  • Recovery
  • Monitoring of work rates and loads
  • Fitness testing
  • Re-conditioning injured players

are all being constantly enhanced and scrutinised in an attempt to improve the premier leagues player.

The role of a sport scientist now is more about analysis of the workload on the players than anything else, the matches they are playing and the training they are doing. Reduction of injuries has been a key development in this area.

Injury prevention has been an important aspect of sport science. In 2012 when Manchester City won the Premier League, they recorded the fewest injuries out of any squad in the top flight, and this was attributed to the advancements in sport science:

“Right from the minute they finish a game, the recovery process starts. Players will head off for cold water baths and follow refueling strategies to replace lost fluids and energy as effectively as possible”.

A quote from the Everton FC academy indicates the how sport science is making such a big impact on the players, “Most of the Academies have sports scientists now so the players coming through have been brought up with that ethos and mentality, and they accept it and expect it. If it is not there, they want to know why”.

Nutrition

Football nutrition has come a long way from past food habits. Clubs are now focusing on getting the right food into their players before, during and after training. For example, Manchester City have made players get into the habit of using 2 supplement “shakers” every day – The bigger one will be filled with the given player’s personalised recovery drink – a concoction of proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients blended according to detailed analysis of their blood and saliva. The smaller pot will be used for any dietary supplements, such as fish oils and multi-vitamins, which tests have revealed to be lacking in a player’s diet; such is the level of detail clubs are going into nowadays.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

In the past players used to regard themselves as footballers rather than athletes, but they now realise that athleticism is a massive part of the game. Year on year, the GPS stats have shown that players are doing more sprints per game, they are sprinting at a higher speed, covering more distance at high intensity and more total distance. Indeed studies have shown that the individual positions on the football field have different physical demands which require special training.

Manchester United was the first Premier League club to adopt the idea of GPS technology. Worn in training vests, the GPS tracker enables United’s sports science team to give an individual rundown of each player’s performance stats following training at Carrington. Former player Ryan Giggs liked the idea stating:

“They show us how far we have run in training, what the intensity was like, how quick we have been. You can go into the sports science department after training and you can find out your data more or less straightaway”.

These are just some of the improvements behind the scenes in the Premier League over its 22-season existence. New ideas in yoga, Pilates, hydro-therapy, gravity-free treadmills, vitamin D sunbeds to name a few are only a snapshot of the operations inside premier league sport science departments nowadays. The likelihood is that these type of developments will continue to improve players in the premier league, and will help to enhance its reputation as one of the greatest leagues in the world.