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Science and soccer, 2nd edition
  1. A Jowett

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    Edited by T Reilly and A M Williams. London: Published by Routledge, 2003, £24.99, softcover, pp 332. ISBN 0415262321

    The editors are to be congratulated for their work in the field over the years represented in this text which has arisen from a series of World Congresses of Science and Football which began in 1987 in Liverpool. Unfortunately this also reveals a weakness in the limited pool of authors from which the text draws, the majority of whom list their professional addresses as Liverpool. As an Aussie with an AFL background, it may be a bit presumptuous of me to criticise those from the birthplace of the game (and the current home of a champion Australian player). However, bearing in mind recent international results, it is fair to assume that some sports science knowledge in soccer may exist in places such as South America, Asia, Africa, and possibly Greece! And what was the score at Upton Park in 2003 anyway!

    This text is certainly comprehensive in the areas it covers and easily read from the first whistle to the full 90 minutes. As stated, it covers every key facet of the game including players’ anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychology, coaching and training methods, nutrition, injury prevention and rehabilitation, surfaces and equipment, match analysis, growth and development of younger players, and talent identification. The allocation of space given to each area perhaps fairly reflects the strengths and areas of interest of the contributors. If readers of this journal such as team doctors and physiotherapists are after detail on sports medicine and injuries in soccer, they will be disappointed particularly by the 10 page chapter on injury prevention and rehabilitation.

    The value for many readers in this text perhaps lies in the knowledge and understanding they can gain in fields of the sports science professionals around them, rather than their own fields. An understanding of the psychology of injury, coaching, and skill acquisition is provided in some detail and will doubtless improve communication and understanding between team support staff. Other chapters such as those on nutrition and environmental issues provide excellent practical advice for team physicians planning team travel and season routines. I am not sure how the chapter on soccer hooliganism fits into the rest of its section covering coaching science—perhaps this is better in a sociological text.

    As a medical professional actively working in soccer, I certainly found this text a useful read and it will retain a place on my bookshelf. It certainly improves my knowledge in the fields of the sports scientists who work with our teams and thus helps me converse from a position of understanding. And of course it will be of value to those undertaking the masters course in Liverpool. For a reference text for sports injuries and soccer, I suggest you look elsewhere.

    • Comprehensiveness13/20
    • Readability17/20
    • Relevance15/20
    • Evidence basis17/20
    • Total75/100


    (PS: The score was Australia 3, England 1!)