Boro FC invests in sports science

May 22, 1998

While champions Arsenal, whose scientific approach to training and nutrition has been credited for much of their success this year, won only the eighth league and cup double in English football history last Saturday, other clubs are looking to catch up on sports science.

Middlesbrough, just promoted from the First Division to the Premiership, hopes that a link-up with sports scientists at the University of Teesside will help them survive and prosper at the top level.

A six-strong team - composed of a technician, nutritionist, physiologist and fitness coach plus two doctoral researchers - from Teesside's sports science support service will work at Boro's new training complex near Darlington.

Chris Barnes, lecturer in sports science at Teesside, said: "This is the first time that a professional soccer club in this country has invested so heavily in sports science."

While it is hoped that the monitoring and advice will help the club next season, not least by cutting injuries, it is a long-term scheme. Dr Barnes said British footballers' attitudes to fitness and nutrition were often unfairly maligned, but that Boro's efforts were intended to create a cultural change.

Laurie Dunn, Middlesbrough's club doctor, said: "Footballers are extremely expensive. To spend millions on them and then not ensure that they get the best possible advice would be like buying a Ferrari and never changing the oil."

He said the research part of the programme would fill serious gaps in knowledge. "You would think that there would be systematic data on how youngsters develop in terms of speed, power and flexibility between joining a club at 16 and becoming full-time professionals at 18. However, it does not exist at the moment."

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