HAPPINESS VERSUS WELLNESS IN ELITE SPORT
In team sports, coaches make a lot of decisions and some of them have an immediate impact on the efficiency of the game.
Having all players healthy and ready for competition is one of the main training objectives in top-level football. The monthly economic cost that a player injury has on a team playing in the Champions League is €500,000.1 We must also, of course, consider the negative consequences an injury has on the team’s performance.
Researchers and clubs are trying to identify which factors can increase or decrease the likelihood of a player suffering an injury. The behaviour of a coach can influence this outcome. We know that changing a coach increases the number of team muscle injuries.2 The frequency of muscle injuries is 2.3 times higher in the two weeks after the arrival of a new coach, and 1.9 times higher one month after.
A recent study3 has also shown that the leadership style of a coach correlates with injuries and the ability of players to train and compete. The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018, is based on an analysis of 36 elite teams from 17 different European countries between 2012 and 2016. At each annual meeting held at the end of every season, the head of the medical services from each club evaluated the leadership style used by the coach with their team using the Global Transformational Leadership (GTL) scale.4. The head of each medical team answered seven questions about their perception on how democratic the behaviour of the coach was using a 5-point Likert scale, from “rarely or never” (score = 1) to “very frequently if not always” (score = 5). Higher scores suggest a more democratic leadership style, and lower scores suggest the opposite. The seven scores were used to establish an average score for each coach. The teams were classified into three groups depending on the score that the coach received in terms of the democracy of their leadership style: low (score of 1-2), medium (3) or high (4-5) level. Doctors also described the frequency and types of injuries suffered by their teams during the season and while the players were participating in training sessions and competitive matches.
The results suggested four major conclusions:
Practical applications suggest that coaches can adopt a series of actions in order to reduce the risk of injury:
In any case, despite the benefits of a coach’s democratic leadership style, opting for a more authoritarian or laissez-faire leadership model may be advisable under other circumstances. This will depend on other factors such as, for example, the age of the players, the point they are at in their sports career, the time available for training, whether or not the situation to be resolved is controllable, or the club’s sports culture. Adapting the intervention style based on the needs of individual situations is possibly one of the greatest skills a coach can have in order to be successful in top-level sports.
Carlos Lago Peñas
1 Ekstrand, J. (2013). Keeping your top players on the pitch: the key to football medicine at a professional level. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 47:723–724.
2 Donmez, G.; Kudas, S.; Yörübulut, M.; Yildirim, M.; Babayeva, N. and Torgutalp, S. (2018). Evaluation of Muscle Injuries in Professional Football Players: Does Coach Replacement Affect the Injury Rate? Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.
3 Ekstrand, J.; Lundqvist, D.; Lagerbäck, L.; Vouillamoz, M.; Papadimitou, N. and Karlsson, J. (2018). Is there a correlation between coaches´ leadership styles and injuries in elite football teams? A study of 36 elite teams in 17 countries. Br J Sports Med 2018; 52: 527-531.
4 Carless, S.A.; Wearing, A.J. and Mamm, L.A. (1990). A short measure of transformational leadership. J Bus Psychol. 14: 389-405.
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.
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.