Footballers run a hell of a lot, and they do it faster than ever. ProZone stats prove that runs made at “three quarters of sprint pace or higher” rose by 50% between 2002 and 2006, and the rate keep rising.
Another stat reveals that players cover up between 8 to 10 miles a game. That’s a number that is four times higher than a decade ago.
Anyone who was ever involved in a fight will agree that running is not even the most exhausting part of the game. Collisions and battles around the pitch are most responsible for the tiring factor of players.
David Reddin, a performance consultant for Catalyst, told “FourFourTwo” magazine that it is his opinion that future players will cover up even more distance, and the speed of the game will increase by up to 15%.
“Advances in genetic typing and metabolic profiling means players will take on nutrients and pre-match drinks that are individualized to optimize their energy levels,” Reddin said. “Time-released nutrients will make glycogen depletion and fatigue a thing of the past. Cryotherapy chambers will speed up recovery rates.”
Basically, footballers will turn into a mixture of wrestlers, marathon runners and 100 meter dashers. However, the evolution of the game has proved that ball skill and high level of technique are still the most important features in winning teams. While players have been growing faster and taller, the players who make the differences are often the small, skillful ones - Xavi, Messi, Sneijder, Wilshere etc.
What all of this means to the “human element” that FIFA and other governing bodies are so anxious to keep?
Can referees actually be part-timers and still be able to keep up with the pace of the game? No.
Can referees make the right critical decisions without the need of technology? Evidently, no.
Can “super footballers” battle with other “super footballers” while running a marathon twice a week? They’re still human beings, so no.
Can old fashioned football governing bodies keep pace with this show? Once again, the answer is a resounding no.