Leicester City are the 2016 English Premier League Champions.
Last Sunday, May 1st, after having drawn 1-1 with Manchester United the day before, they confirmed themselves as champions when Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 with Chelsea, mathematically eliminating their closest rivals in the league table.
Leicester’s run to the Championship this season has been described by many in the media as a “fairly-tale” for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that the club has won despite having the league’s lowest annual payroll, and also because it is basically devoid of star players, having assembled their squad with players the other Premier League clubs – and even some of the 1st and 2nd Division clubs in England – didn’t want.
But was their Premier League title really just an incredible case of good fortune, or was it the result of carefully planned, meticulously executed strategies, including physical fitness and sports science strategies?
Below is a link to an excellent article written by Alistair Magowan, and posted to bbc.com on Wednesday, May 4th, titled “Leicester City: The Science Behind their Premier League Title.” In this article, Magowan outlines the incredibly positive impact that Leicester’s sports science staff, comprising a team of experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, performance analysis, nutrition, and sports psychology, have had on both the individual players’ as well as the team’s performance. Some of the highlights of this impact in the 2015/2016 Premier League season include:
- Having the fewest total number of injuries this season
- Having the least amount of time lost due to injury this season
- Using the fewest number of players this season
- Having the highest number of counter-attacking goals, and the highest number of counter-attacking shots on target, this season
Magowan goes on to highlight several of the strategies used by Leicester’s sports science team, including managing training volume and intensity, performance monitoring during training and match play, recovery and regeneration methods, nutrition and hydration, and psychological skills training. This quote from Darren Burgess, former Fitness Coach for Liverpool FC who was interviewed as part of the article, neatly sums up the importance of a good sports science team in a professional club:
“Quite often sports science is not used to its full potential but we’ve seen the results at Leicester and I would be stunned if other teams don’t jump on board… This is one of the biggest upsets in the history of world sport and, hopefully, it will change some of the beliefs in football about the impact good sports science can have.”
Below is a link to the full article. I hope you enjoy it and as always, welcome your comments and feedback.