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Can off-field ‘brains’ provide a competitive advantage in professional football?
  1. Alan McCall1,2,
  2. Michael Davison3,
  3. Chris Carling4,
  4. Matthew Buckthorpe3,
  5. Aaron J Coutts5,
  6. Gregory Dupont2,6
  1. 1 Research & Development Department, Arsenal Football Club, London, UK
  2. 2 Research & Development Department, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Isokinetic Medical Group, FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, London, UK
  4. 4 Institute of Coaching and Performance, UCLAN, Preston, UK
  5. 5 Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Moore Park, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6 University Lille Nord de France, Ronchin, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alan McCall, Research & Development Department, Arsenal Football Club, Bell Ln, London Colney, Hertfordshire WD7 9AD, UK; amccall{at}

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‘Working-fast and working-slow’ in sport describes the concept that practice and research can be integrated to improve high-performance outcomes and enhance professional practice.1 ‘Working-fast’ is the task of the fast-thinking, intuitive practitioner operating on ‘the ground’ at a frenetic pace, interacting with coaches and athletes, and delivering the daily preparation programme. ‘Working-slow’ is key for the team's deliberate, focused researcher acting as the resident sceptic, operating behind the scenes on tasks that the ‘fast-practitioner’ may not have time and/or skills to undertake. Such hidden, but important, tasks include determining measurement noise/error in performance tests, establishing proof of concept for new ideas and ensuring validity of methods. Embedding research into the fast environment of high-performance football may provide a competitive advantage using ethical and evidence-based methods.1

Football teams can learn from many of the world's largest technology companies,2 which embed research within their organisations to improve efficiency and enhance productivity. Such a strategy is coined ‘Research and Development’ (R&D), and defined as: ‘work directed toward the innovation, introduction and improvement of processes’.3 However, …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.