Latest research in football - week 32 - 2021

As previous literature updates, I have performed a PubCrawler search looking for football articles in NCBI Medline (PubMed) and GenBank databases. 


Following studies were retrieved for this week:

#1 Aerodynamics of the newly approved football for the English Premier League 2020-21 season

Reference: Sci Rep. 2021 May 5;11(1):9578.  doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89162-y.

Authors: Takeshi Asai, Sungchan Hong

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Summary: Footballs are typically constructed with 32 panels. Recently, the number of panels has been successively reduced to 14, 8, and 6 panels, and official balls have been adopted with complex panel shapes and aerodynamics that differ from those of 32-panel balls. The official ball for the 2020-21 season of the English Premier League comprises just four panels with a complex panel shape and surface groove design; however, its aerodynamics have not yet been clarified. This study aims to clarify the aerodynamic characteristics (drag, side force, lift force, their deviations, and critical Reynolds number) of the new 4-panel ball (Flight 2020, Nike) in comparison to a 6-panel ball (Tsubasa 2020, Adidas) and conventional 32-panel ball (Pelada 2020, Molten) using a wind tunnel test, surface design measurement, and a simple 2D flight simulation. The results showed that Flight 2020 has greater surface roughness and smaller critical Reynolds number than Pelada 2020 and Tsubasa 2020, resulting to its marginally greater drag force in the supercritical region, and slightly smaller fluctuations of the side and lift forces. Furthermore, Flight with a symmetrical orientation exhibits a significantly higher drag coefficient in the supercritical region, suggesting its greater air resistance during flight under this condition.



#2 Rehabilitation and successful return to play of a 17-year old elite soccer player with juvenile osteochondritis dissecans trochlear groove lesion of the knee: A case report

Reference: Res Sports Med. 2020 Dec 1;1-10.  doi: 10.1080/15438627.2020.1853543. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Gareth Thomas, Matt Greig

Summary: This case summarizes the rehabilitation and return to play management of a 17-year-old elite male soccer player who required surgical stabilization of an Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) lesion of the trochlea groove. Trochlea groove lesions represent <1% of OCD cases, resulting in limited evidence to inform practice. The case was initially identified as antalgic running gait, and at this point the player revealed progressively worsening knee pain (over preceding 2 months) which presented as patellofemoral pain with a small knee effusion and quadriceps atrophy present on assessment. No improvement in symptoms after 2 weeks of unloading (no running) and traditional patellofemoral treatment prompted magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans to inform surgical intervention. We present a summary of the four-stage rehabilitation process defined by objective assessments, resulting in a successful return-to-play 24 weeks post-surgery. This case advocates consideration of OCD in the assessment of persistent knee pain in young athletes.



#3 M. Biceps Femoris Long Head Architecture and Sprint Ability in Youth Soccer Players

Reference: Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2021 May 5;1-9.  doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2020-0726. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Paul Ritsche, Thomas Bernhard, Ralf Roth, Eric Lichtenstein, Martin Keller, Sabrina Zingg, Martino V Franchi, Oliver Faude

Summary: Hamstring muscle architecture may be associated with sprint performance and the risk of sustaining a muscle injury, both of which increase during puberty. In this study, we investigated the m. biceps femoris long head (BFlh) cross-sectional area (ACSA), fascicle length (FL) and pennation angle (PA), and sprint performance as well as their relationship in under 13 to 15 youth soccer players. We measured 85 players in under-13 (n = 29, age = 12.5 [0.1] y, height = 155.3 [6.2] cm, weight = 43.9 [7.6] kg), under-14 (n = 25, age = 13.5 [0.3] y, height = 160.6 [7.7] cm, weight = 47.0 [6.8] kg), and under-15 (n = 31, age = 14.4 [0.3] y, height = 170.0 [7.7] cm, weight = 58.1 [8.8] kg) teams. We used ultrasound to measure BFlh ACSA, FL and PA, and sprint tests to assess 10- and 30-m sprint time, maximal velocity (vmax), and maximal acceleration (αmax). We calculated Pearson r to assess the relationship between sprint ability and architectural parameters. All muscle architectural parameters increased from the under-13 to the under-15 age group (BFlh ACSA = 37%, BFlh FL = 11%, BFlh PA = 8%). All sprint performance parameters improved from the under-13 to under-15 age categories (30-m time = 7%, 10-m time = 4%, vmax = 9%, αmax = 7%). The BFlh ACSA was correlated with 30-m sprint time (r = -.61 (95% compatibility interval [CI] [-.73, -.45]) and vmax (r = .61, 95% CI [.45, .72]). A combination of BFlh ACSA and age best predicted 30-m time (R² = .47 [.33, .62]) and 10-m time (R² = .23 [.08, .38]). Muscle architectural as well as sprint performance parameters increase from the under-13 to under-15 age groups. Even though we found correlations for all assessed architectural parameters, BFlh ACSA was best related to the assessed sprint parameters.



#4 Evaluating the effects of oral contraceptive use on biomarkers and body composition during a competitive season in collegiate female soccer players

Reference: J Appl Physiol (1985). 2021 May 6.  doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00818.2020. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Brittany N Bozzini, Bridget A McFadden, Kirsty J Elliott-Sale, Paul A Swinton, Shawn M Arent

Summary: High training demands throughout the competitive season in female collegiate soccer players have been shown to induce changes in biomarkers indicative of stress, inflammation, and reproduction, which may be exacerbated in athletes using oral contraceptives (OCs). The purpose was to compare biomarkers and body composition between OC-using and non-using (CON) female soccer players throughout a competitive season. Female collegiate soccer players were stratified into two groups based on their reported OC use at the start of pre-season (OC: n=6; CON: n=17). Prior to the start of pre-season and immediately post-season, athletes underwent a battery of performance tests. Blood draws and body composition assessments were performed prior to pre-season, on weeks 2, 4, 8, and 12 of the season, and post-season. Area-under-the-curve ratios (OCAUC:CONAUC) indicated the OC group were exposed to substantially higher levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (AUCratio=1.4, probability=p>0.999), total cortisol (1.7; p>0.999), c-reactive protein (5.2; p>0.999), leptin (1.4; p=0.990), growth hormone (1.5; p=0.97), but substantively lower amounts ofestradiol (0.36; p<0.001),progesterone (0.48; p=0.008), free testosterone (0.58; p<0.001), follicle-stimulating hormone (0.67; p<0.001) and creatine kinase (0.33, p<0.001) compared with the CON across the season. Both groups increased fat free mass over the season, but CON experienced a greater magnitude of increase along with decreased body fat percentage. Although similar training loads were observed between groups over the season, the elevated exposure to stress, inflammatory, and metabolic biomarkers over the competitive season in OC users may have implications on body composition, training adaptations, and recovery in female athletes.



#5 Effect of a simple core muscle training program on trunk muscle strength and neuromuscular control among pediatric soccer players

Reference: J Exp Orthop. 2021 May 6;8(1):36.  doi: 10.1186/s40634-021-00353-y.

Authors: yRyotaro Kumahara, Shizuka Sasaki, Eiji Sasaki, Yuka Kimura, Yuji Yamamoto, Eiichi Tsuda, Yasuyuki Ishibashi

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Summary: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of simple core muscle training (CMT) program on trunk muscle strength and neuromuscular control among pediatric athletes. Forty-nine male soccer players (mean age, 10.8 years) participated. The CMT program had three components (bench, side bench, and Nordic hamstrings) and was performed at least three times weekly for a year. Trunk flexion/extension muscle strength and the K/H ratio (determined by dividing knee separation distance by hip separation distance during drop-jump test and used as an index of lower limb valgus alignment) were measured, and the Y balance test (YBT) was performed before and after intervention. This study did not include the pure control group among the same team. To consider the effect of CMT on trunk muscle strength due to physical growth, we used the data of trunk muscle strength from the local cohort study previously conducted in our institution. One hundred participants who matched the age, height, body weight, and body mass index of the training group was designated as a control group. In the training group, the trunk flexion/extension strength significantly increased at 6 months (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, respectively) and 12 months (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, respectively) compared to initial value. The K/H ratio at initial contact and maximum knee flexion phase significantly increased at 6 months (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively); however, it did not increase at 12 months (p = 0.384 and p = 0.070, respectively) compared to the initial value. In the YBT, the maximized reach distance in each direction significantly increased after intervention on both the dominant and non-dominant sides, except in the posteromedial direction on the non-dominant foot. Compared to the control group, although there was no significant difference in trunk flexion/extension strength at baseline (p = 0.141 and p = 0.390, respectively), the training group showed significantly higher trunk flexion/extension muscle strength at 12 months (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). The CMT program increased trunk muscle strength and improved dynamic balance among pediatric male athletes.



#6 Increased occurrence of ACL injuries for football players in teams changing coach and for players going to a higher division

Reference: Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2021 May 13.  doi: 10.1007/s00167-021-06604-w.

Authors: Alexander Sandon, Werner Krutsch, Volker Alt, Magnus Forssblad 

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#7 The porous high-press? An experimental approach investigating tactical behaviours from two pressing strategies in football

Reference: J Sports Sci. 2021 May 13;1-12.  doi: 10.1080/02640414.2021.1925424. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Benedict Low, Robert Rein, Dominik Raabe, Sebastian Schwab, Daniel Memmert

Summary: The aim of this study was to analyse footballers' tactical behaviours from their position data, as an effect of two contrasting pressing strategies, high-press defending and deep-defending, using a trial-based experimental approach. Sixty-nine youth footballers participated in this 11 versus 11 study, performing 72 trials of attack versus defence, in a counterbalanced crossover study design. Players' position data were captured using a local positioning system, and processed to calculate measures of inter-team distance, trial duration, distance to nearest opponent, dispersion, team length, team width, team shape, space control gain, inter-line distance, and individual area. This was augmented by the notational analyses of passes. The findings showed that using a high-press defending strategy leads to: closer inter-team distance; larger dispersion, due to a longer team length; and larger inter-line distances between defenders, midfielders, and forwards. The resulting effects on the attacking team include reduced ball possession time; larger individual areas for attacking midfielders and forwards; longer team length; and more penetrative passes performed. Some differences in marking behaviour were also observed. Consequently, the study recommends that high-press defending be used sparingly due to these trade-offs.



#8 Illustrating changes in landscapes of passing opportunities along a set of competitive football matches

Reference: Sci Rep. 2021 May 7;11(1):9792.  doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89184-6.

Authors: Luis Ignacio Gómez-Jordana, Rodrigo Amaro E Silva, João Milho, Angel Ric, Pedro Passos

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Summary: This study aims to illustrate the landscape of passing opportunities of a football team across a set of competitive matches. To do so positional data of 5 competitive matches was used to create polygons of pass availability. Passes were divided into three types depending on the hypothetical threat they may pose to the opposing defense (penetrative, support, and backwards passes). These categories were used to create three heatmaps per match. Moreover, the mean time of passing opportunities was calculated and compared across matches and for the three categories of passes. Due to the specificity of player's interactive behavior, results showed heatmaps with a variety of patterns. Specifically the fifth match was very dissimilar to the other four. However, characterizing a football match in terms of passing opportunities with a single heatmap dismisses the variety of dynamics that occur throughout a match. Therefore, three temporal heatmaps over windows of 10 min were presented highlighting on-going dynamical changes in pass availability. Results also display that penetrative passes were available over shorter periods of time than backward passes that were available shorter than support passes. The results highlight the sensibility of the model to different task constrains that emerge within football matches.



#9 Hip apophyseal injuries in soccer players: can MRI findings be useful to define when to return to play?

Reference: Skeletal Radiol. 2021 May 10.  doi: 10.1007/s00256-021-03797-6. Online ahead of print.

Authors: Andre Fukunishi Yamada, Andrea Puchnick, Frederico Roberto Pollack Filho, Erica Narahashi, Gustavo Gonçalves Arliani, Alberto de Castro Pochini, Artur da Rocha Correa Fernandes

Summary:  The aim was to describe magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in professional soccer players with acute apophyseal injury of the hip and to assess their relationship with return to sports. Adolescent soccer players with diagnosis of apophyseal injury in the anterosuperior and anteroinferior iliac spine were retrospectively evaluated between 2008 and 2016. All athletes underwent hip MRI examination within 4 days after onset of clinical complaint. Images were independently analyzed by two radiologists. Medical records were reviewed to obtain clinical data. Mean displacement of the apophysis was 4.8 ± 4.6 mm. Bone edema was present in 82% of athletes and muscular edema in 41%. The mean time to return to sports was 37.3 ± 14.7 days. The difference between the measurements of the two radiologists was close to zero with agreement limits below 1.0 mm (p < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between displacement of the apophysis and return to sports, as well as between both and the presence of muscular edema. A displacement of the apophysis of 3.0 mm might serve as a parameter to predict return to sports/activity before 40 days, with a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 96%, considering conservative physiotherapy treatment. Displacement of the apophysis and presence of muscular edema evaluated by MRI showed a significant correlation with return to sports in athletes with acute apophyseal injuries of the anterosuperior and anteroinferior iliac spines.



#10 Monitoring Individual Sleep and Nocturnal Heart Rate Variability Indices: The Impact of Training and Match Schedule and Load in High-Level Female Soccer Players

Reference: Front Physiol. 2021 Apr 26;12:678462.  doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.678462. eCollection 2021.

Authors: Júlio A Costa, Pedro Figueiredo, Fábio Y Nakamura, António Rebelo, João Brito

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Summary: The purpose was to describe individual sleep habits and nocturnal heart rate variability (HRV) responses, and to explore intra-individual associations of workload with sleep and nocturnal HRV indices in high-level female soccer players throughout a 2-week competitive period. The study followed a descriptive, observational design. Thirty-four high-level female soccer players (aged 20.6 ± 2.3 years) wore wrist actigraph units and heart rate (HR) monitors during night-sleep to record objective sleep and HRV data throughout 14 days [six evening-time training sessions (ET), six rest-days (RD), and two match-days (MD)]. During each ET and MD, exercise HR (HRexe), %HRpeak, training impulse (TRIMP), session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) and perceived ratings of wellbeing were monitored. After ET, a higher number of players (17-22) slept less than 7 h/night, in contrast to the remaining days (i.e., MD and RD), but only 1-6 players had a sleep efficiency < 75%. The coefficient of variation (CV) for sleep duration and sleep efficiency ranged between 9-22% and 2-11%, respectively. A small negative within-subject correlation was found between TRIMP and sleep duration [r = -0.25 (-0.36; -0.12); P < 0.001] and sleep efficiency [r = -0.20 (-0.32; -0.08); P = 0.004]. A moderate and small negative within-subject correlation was found between s-RPE and sleep duration [r = -0.43 (-0.53; -0.32); P < 0.001] and sleep efficiency [r = -0.17 (-0.30; -0.05); P = 0.02]. Nocturnal HRV for the time-domain analyses ranged from 4.1 (3.9; 4.3) to 4.4 (4.1; 4.6) ln[ms], and for the frequency-domain analyses ranged from 6.3 (5.9; 6.7) to 7.5 (7.1; 7.9) ln[ms2]. CV for time-domain HRV ranged from 3 to 23%, and from 4 to 46% for the frequency-domain. Higher CV fluctuations in time- and frequency-domain HRV were particularly observed in four players. Overall, this study highlights the individual variability of sleep and nocturnal HRV indices, indicating that sleep duration may be affected by training and match schedules and workloads. Training and matches workload were not associated with nocturnal HRV in high-level female soccer players.



#11 Variations in Head Impact Rates in Male and Female High School Soccer

Reference: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Jun 1;53(6):1245-1251. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002567.

Authors: Colin M Huber, Declan A Patton, Divya Jain, Christina L Master, Susan S Margulies, Catherine C McDonald, Kristy B Arbogast

Summary: Repetitive head impacts in soccer have been linked to short-term neurophysiological deficits, and female soccer players have higher concussion rates than males. These findings have inspired investigation into gender differences in head impact exposure and how head impact rate contributes to the cumulative effect of head impact exposure on neurological outcomes. Various periods of exposure have been used to calculate head impact rates, including head impacts per season, game, and player-hour. The aim of this study was to apply different methodological approaches to quantify and compare head impact rates by gender for two seasons of high school varsity soccer. Video review was used to confirm all events recorded by a headband-mounted impact sensor and calculate playing time for all players. Impact rates were calculated per athlete exposure (presence and participation) and per player-hour (scheduled game time, individual play time, and absolute time). Impact rates per athlete exposure ranged from 2.5 to 3.2 for males and from 1.4 to 1.6 for females, and impact rates per player-hour ranged from 2.7 to 3.8 for males and from 1.0 to 1.6 for females. The exposure calculation method significantly affected head impact rates; however, regardless of approach, the head impact rate for males was higher, up to threefold, than for females. Individual head impact exposure varied substantially within a team with one in five players experiencing no impacts. Overall, the gender differences found in this study indicate that males experience higher head impact exposure compared with females. Future studies are needed to understand potential clinical implications of variability in head impact exposure and reconcile higher female concussion rates with the reduced head impact rates presented herein.



#12 Off-training physical activity and training responses as determinants of sleep quality in young soccer players

Reference: Sci Rep. 2021 May 13;11(1):10219.  doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89693-4.

Authors: Nuno Mateus, Juliana Exel, Bruno Gonçalves, Anthony Weldon, Jaime Sampaio

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Summary: This study aimed to quantify and assess the relationship of young soccer players' off-training physical activity (PA) and training responses on sleep quality. Eleven adolescent soccer players (13 ± 0.5 years old) were monitored during weekdays for four consecutive weeks, throughout soccer practice days. Off-training PA and sleep quality were assessed using 100 Hz tri-axial accelerometers and training responses analyzed using 20 Hz global positioning measurement units. A cluster analysis classified all cases into three different dimensions, (1) off-training PA, (2) training responses and (3) sleep quality. For each dimension, the most important variables for classifying the cases into clusters were sedentary PA and moderate-to-vigorous PA; total distance covered and impacts; and sleep onset latency and sleep fragmentation index, respectively. Afterwards, a correspondence analysis was used to identify whether off-training PA and training responses affected sleep quality. Results exposed that high to medium off-training PA combined with medium to high training responses may have decreased sleep quality. Conversely, no correspondence was observed between off-training PA and training responses, with higher sleep quality. This study emphasizes the importance of sports organizations adopting a holistic approach to youth soccer players' development, that appropriately considers the inter-relationship between lifestyle, performance and health-related information.



#13 Systematic Video Analysis of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Professional Female Soccer Players

Reference: Am J Sports Med. 2021 May 14;3635465211008169.  doi: 10.1177/03635465211008169. 

Authors: Simona Lucarno, Matteo Zago, Matthew Buckthorpe, Alberto Grassi, Filippo Tosarelli, Rebecca Smith, Francesco Della Villa

Summary: Female soccer players are particularly susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, accounting for 16% to 43% of the injury burden during the season. Despite the advancements in injury prevention programs, the rate of ACL injuries continues to rise. The purpose was to provide a comprehensive description of the mechanisms, situational pattern, and biomechanics of ACL injuries in women's soccer. We identified 57 consecutive ACL injuries that occurred in matches of 6 top female leagues across 3 seasons (2017-2020). A total of 35 (61%) injury videos were analyzed for the mechanism and situational pattern, while biomechanical analysis was possible in 29 cases. Three independent reviewers evaluated each video. The distribution of ACL injuries according to month, timing within the match, and field location at the time of injury was also reported. In the 35 injury videos, there were 19 (54%) noncontact injuries, 12 (34%) indirect contact injuries, and 4 (11%) direct contact injuries. We identified 3 main situations in players who suffered a noncontact/indirect contact injury: (1) pressing and tackling (n = 18), (2) regaining balance after kicking (n = 7), and (3) being tackled (n = 4). Biomechanical analysis indicated multiplanar mechanisms with frequent knee valgus loading (88%). Additionally, 64% of injuries occurred in the first half of matches and most frequently within the first 30 minutes. Female athletes showed remarkable similarities with elite male players in terms of the ACL mechanism and situational pattern of injury, and 88% of injuries involved no direct contact to the knee, with noncontact injuries being highly prevalent. Injuries occurred during 3 main situations, with accompanying alterations in multiplanar biomechanics. Interventions aimed at reducing ACL injuries in women's soccer should consider high-intensity defensive play at the beginning of a match. Instruction in the 3 main situations should be applied alongside appropriate neuromuscular training interventions.


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