Attention, Concentration and Emotions in Sport
Attention is the ability to correctly detect the environment stimuli. In a football game, for example, there are numerous and varied stimuli.
Monitoring training load is one of the fundamental tools for optimising the performance of both elite athletes in general and football players in particular. This monitoring includes not only the purely conditional or biological demands but also the psychological demands – and it is these that allow us to personalise and adapt training and recovery processes.
One of the resources used for monitoring is the “Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)”, a simple scale based on the personal sensation of fatigue and effort intensity felt by the athlete. Many studies have demonstrated its validity by observing its relationship with other internal load variables such as lactate concentration in the blood or heart rate (Moalla et al, 2016; Sanchez-Sanchez et al., 2017). However, until recently the scientific world had little knowledge of its practical application or its relationship with other load parameters such as training time, particularly at high intensity (Malone, 2018; Murray, 2017).
Antonio Gómez, physical trainer for F.C. Barcelona’s first division team, participated in two studies which aimed to answer these questions. One of these studies also allowed the researchers to determine whether there were training load differences between elite and sub-elite teams (first and second division) and whether conditional performance (the distance covered by players during a match, especially at high speed) was related to improved results in competition. The results were published in the Revista de Psicología del Deporte and in the magazine Anales de Psicología.
The main study examined a Premier League team and a Championship Division team (equivalent to the first and second divisions in Spain) for approximately twenty weeks. All training sessions were assessed using variables such as the total time of the training sessions, the percentage of training time at high intensity, the heart rate and the RPE. In addition, a multi-camera system was used to collect data on the distance covered by each player during match day as well as the distance covered at high speed (>19.8 km/h). “It was the first time a study like this had been carried out, comparing these variables in football”, explained Antonio Gómez.
After analysing the correlation between the data, it was verified that the RPE significantly correlated with all the training session variables: total time, training time at high intensity and the heart rate average. “This proved that it is a simple, reliable and a free tool for quantifying training load”, assures Gómez.
The researchers also observed that the RPE was greater in the sub-elite team than in the elite team, as were the distances covered (total metres and distance covered at high speed) in each match. In this respect, previous studies had found contradictory results in one way or another. ”There are many factors that can affect the effort distribution“, recognizes Gómez. “The advantage of our study is the fact that both teams followed the same training methodology and had the same technical team of coaches and trainers. This encourages us to think that the higher technical-tactical level of elite football players allows them to regulate effort to a certain extent.”
This research led to a surprise when the correlation between distances covered during the matches and the final result of each event was analysed for the first time. In general, distances are greater during matches that end with a win, even though the second study could not confirm this association. Neither could it confirm the RPE results. “In reality, due to the stochastic and multidimensional nature of football events, there is no training variable that has clearly shown a correlation with the competition results”, recognizes Gómez. What the results do show is that a higher load, like the one that sub-elite players have, does not negatively influence their performance. “This means that there could be a margin for improving training; not necessarily to train more, but to train better, adjusting the variability and interconnection of training situations, for example.”
The main conclusion of these studies was that the Rating of Perceived Exertion is a simple and reliable tool for quantifying training load. “Today, we use it for the entire club, as a variable that provides us with information about the internal load – the effect on the body – of the entire training process. We complement it with GPS data which gives us objective measurements of external load – the workload.”
This monitoring is the starting point for many other studies, “One of the current areas of research at the club aims to establish the exact relationship between this perceived exertion and each one of the variables measured by GPS, including distance, covered, distance covered at sprint, metabolic power or the number of maximum accelerations. This is what we are focusing on at the moment, and we are continuing to make progress…”, concludes Gómez.
Malone, S., Mendes, B., Hughes, B., Roe, M., Devenney, S., Collins, K., & Owen, A. (2018). Decrements in neuromuscular performance and increases in creatine kinase impact training outputs in elite soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32(5), 1342-1351.
Moalla, W., Fessi, M. S., Farhat, F., Nouira, S., Wong, D. P., & Dupont, G. (2016). Relationship between daily training load and psychometric status of professional soccer players. Research in Sports Medicine, 24(4), 387-394.
Murray, N. B., Gabbett, T. J., & Townshend, A. D. (2017). The use of relative speed zones in Australian football: are we really measuring what we think we are? International journal of sports physiology and performance, 13(4), 442-451.
Sanchez-Sanchez, J., Hernández, D., Casamichana, D., Martínez-Salazar, C., Ramirez-Campillo, R., & Sampaio, J. (2017). Heart rate, technical performance, and session-RPE in elite youth soccer small-sided games played with wildcard players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(10), 2678-2685.
The Barça Innovation Hub team
Mental abilities, although not yet fully appreciated, are already considered a relevant part of performance. But their importance could go beyond that: Do they also influence the injury risk, including recurrence, once the player returns to play?
Although several studies have tried to evaluate the characteristics of the risk of injury in handball players, they have been unable to reach sufficiently reliable conclusions. A new study of all the FC Barcelona handball categories has attempted to shed more light on the subject.
Although there are several studies on this topic, many of them have analyzed these demands by looking at just a few variables or using very broad timeframes. A new study completed by physical trainers from F.C. Barcelona has analyzed several of these details more closely.
An article published in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine —in which members of the club’s medical services participated— now suggests to consider the detailed structure of the area affected, and treating the extracellular matrix as an essential player in the prognosis of the injury.
In this article, Tim Gabbett and his team provide a user-friendly guide for practitioners when describing the general purpose of load management to coaches.
For the first time, it has been demonstrated that it does not take months of training to significantly improve both muscle volume and strength; instead, two weeks of an appropriate exercise are enough.
The understanding of the modifying variables of the game, based on the degrees of freedom.
Training using eccentric exercises is important to prevent possible damage. However, intensive training can also cause muscle damage, so it is critical to be vigilant in order to keep injury risk to an absolute minimum.
The importance of building a game model in football.
Cardiovascular endurance manifests as a moderator of the load result to which the athlete is exposed.
Through the use of computer vision we can identify some shortcomings in the body orientation of players in different game situations.