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جافا سكريبت غير ممكن! ... الرجاء تفعيل الجافا سكريبت في متصفحك.

Better control and fewer injuries. Will short people dominate football in the future?

 In 2011, the Observatory of Professional Football Players published its third consecutive annual study, in which we realized that Barcelona, ​​the best team in the world at the time, was also the smallest (taking into account the average size of its players), perhaps for the first time in the history of the game. 

Of course, this meant nothing at the time other than how exceptional this team was, simply because the next teams in order of height were; Shamrock Rovers, AEK Larnaca, Lorient and St Mirren. Never heard of it before? Well, that proves the point. The bottom line is that this team was exceptional because length, or rather some length, was essential to success in the game, and perhaps still is.

In 2014, for example, journalist Chris Andersen, who co-edited the book "The Numbers Game", measured the extent of the correlation between success in football, using the FIFA coefficient, and the average size of players. football teams, using data available on Wikipedia. 

The result that Andersen arrived at was that the relationship between the two subjects was clear and that teams like Brazil, Spain, Italy and England excelled in this relationship, and Spain in particular was the most important , but this statistical experiment had no value. , simply because average heights have nothing to do with the matter, and averages in general are not the best way to demonstrate this relationship.

Simple example; Many football researchers believe that there is an appropriate age for a player to often reach their peak, and that age is between 25 and 29, which is a theory that seems logical. The average age of the teams that won the World Cup was exactly 27.5 years old, and the youngest team to win the tournament was Argentina in 1978 with an average of 25.7 years old, and the oldest was Brazil in 1962 with an average of 30.7 years, and the last title was won by France with an average of 26.3 years, and Germany won the previous one with an average of 27.3 years. Even Spain itself won the World Cup when its average age was 27.3, and lost it in 2006 when its average age was 27.3. 24.9. 

At first glance, this theory seems very solid, while the truth is that France only had two players in this age group in 2018, namely Griezmann and Kante, and Germany only had 4 players, at namely Neuer, Mertesacker, Podolski and Hoewedes Only. two of them played in the final. So, one can find many flaws whenever someone talks about statistical averages.

The most important thing is that the height is distributed between the different positions. It is an axiom of the game that central defenders must be at least 180cm tall, while this is not necessary for full-backs, midfielders or even forwards and wings. and therefore we cannot extract a true relationship between average height and the ability to play football effectively, at least not in this way.

The oldest trick in the book

The truth is that length is important in the game for one simple and obvious reason; The simplest thing to do in football is to kick the ball into the sky and wait for it to fall, a situation in which height becomes of utmost importance, but this has happened in recent years , is that teams that play this way consistently and consistently have declined sharply, at least at the highest level. That includes the game's major tournaments, and it no longer has the necessary public appeal, or even media support, to continue.

The truth is also that this exceptional team, whose average size meant nothing in 2011, transformed into a global wave that imposed a new style of football. A style concerned with building the game from the back, studying in detail the playing styles of opponents and all kinds of pressure, especially after the revolution of Ralph Ranick in Germany, which gave birth to legions of coaches who believed in the importance of pressure to control the match and force. opponents to play according to their demands.

With the spread of these styles, pressure became influential in how long balls were played from back to front, and it became one of the most important methods of stopping them and reducing their accuracy. This has produced a new type of long, isolated passes that are not so much aimed at players' heads as at spaces that allow them to run towards them, or drop to shake off the marker, then receive, turn and other techniques that have become more common today than the old traditional long balls, even in the Premier League and in England, a country that has built its entire football culture on this idea for decades.

Add to this the growing awareness of the danger of heading the ball and the long-term injuries that result from players' heads colliding during aerial tackles, it won't be long before the initiative comes of the players themselves. and they begin to avoid this style of play in order to preserve their future health, after its effect on diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease and others becomes clear. 

In one of his conferences, investigative sports journalist David Epstein discusses the evolution of athletes' bodies over time. He begins by saying that the old belief was that the average height was optimal for playing all sports. Then came the era of specialization, and it became important for swimmers, for example, to have a longer than average torso. As well as the arms, which he summarizes by saying that the closer the swimmer is to fish body proportions (long arms and long torso with short legs), the better. 

We can say that something similar happened in football; The development of pressing methods has necessitated the development of receiving, delivering and passing skills, which push coaches to rely on players who are more flexible, with quicker reactions and a greater ability to control the ball.

Stazinos Stavranias, professor of exercise science at Willamette University, explains it as an obvious axiom. Shorter people have what he calls "faster stepping patterns," meaning they land on the ground more times, with less spacing, giving them greater acceleration compared to to tall people, in addition to the most important advantage, which is that "short people "They can change direction much faster than their taller peers and they have better control of their limbs, this which makes it a greater threat to defenders. 

This advantage - changing direction while running quickly - is the most important of all in dribbling, but it has also recently become the most important in applying pressure, as many coaches seek to use one player to block two opposing players, in order to maintain an advantage. numerical advantage at the back which allows him to apply a protective cover. If the opposing attacker outruns his marker, for example, and applying this method of pressing requires the attackers and midfielders to run into the passing lanes in a curved fashion, or what is known as "running curve", as it is useful for trapping one of the opposing players and running towards another at the same time. 

In addition to the above, what is confirmed by a major report published on "BBC Future" in 2015, according to which people of short stature generally have faster reactions due to the shortness of their limbs, and therefore the little of time needed for their nerves to signal from the brain to the rest of the limbs. They also have a greater ability to balance thanks to their relatively low center of gravity, something confirmed by anyone who has faced players like Maradona and Messi. 

Some studies suggest that tall people are also more vulnerable to injury because they carry more weight in their bodies, without a significant difference in bone or muscle density, compared to short people. One estimate indicates that a 20% increase in height is enough to generate twice as much kinetic energy in a fall, meaning a stronger impact and greater risk of fractures and muscle tears. This is confirmed by another important study carried out by two researchers from the University of Oxford. found that women who are 5 feet 8 inches tall are twice as likely as women who are 5 feet 2 inches tall to suffer a pelvic fracture. 

This idea mainly applies to attackers and midfielders, as they represent the first and second waves of pressure, but it only rarely applies to defenders and central players, and until now, having players of large height at least in the heart of the defense is always inevitable, but gradually, throughout the match, Height is limited to only defenders, and all this led coaches to rely on the header only in one case, namely set pieces.

This was the rule last season in the Premier League, for example, and everything else was the exception. In the list of players who have scored headed goals, Calvert Lewin - the most prominent exception to this rule - tops the list with seven goals. the season, then Christian Benteke and Cavani followed him with six goals each, and Harry Kane with four. In the rest of the list, which included more than 120 players, no striker scored more than two goals, regardless of his size, perhaps with. with the exception of Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino and Diego Jota, who cannot be considered tall by any estimate, as they are 181 and 178cm tall respectively. 

The same phenomenon is repeated in the list of 50 players who have won the most aerial tackles in the Premier League, according to the “Whoscored” website, 32 players, including central defenders, and 12 attackers, some of whom are small, in addition . 4 midfielders, perhaps the most prominent of whom is Czech Tomas Soucek, the modern equivalent of Marouane Fellaini, one of former Manchester United manager David Moyes' favorite players throughout history. 

What is interesting is that Soucek here is an important example of the rule and not an exception as expected. The Czech wins 2.6 aerial tackles per game in the Premier League, not because he can't win more than that, but because of the style of his game. the game doesn't have the luxury of relying primarily on him, unlike the Czech national team, with whom this number doubles to 5.2 per match, this is often due to the limited time available to develop plans and methods of play, which usually requires national team coaches to rely on clear and intuitive skills, whether technical, physical or fitness. 

In 2011, the best teams in the world were the smallest, and in the same year, retired Frenchman Picente Lizarazo, a former Bayern Munich left-back, said he suffered in his youth from a lack of opportunities due to his short stature, but this inspired him to further develop his fitness and strength. Lizarazo believed that "those who start the race with a clear advantage, such as size, are less willing to expand", and this was to his advantage, but it seems that the situation will change in the future, if not is not the case. already started to spin.