Plenary Session on ”Development of Talented Players to World Champions in Football”

Football and the identification with it plays an important role in the Metropolis Ruhr. Nearly every major city has a big football club and people identify strongly with them. This plenary session focuses on football and different aspects of it. While general research-based guidelines are easy to transfer into youth football, elite football demands a critical analysis of research results before implementation. The plenary refers to this conflict and two expert talks are given by Prof. Mark Williams (UK) and Prof. Tim Meyer (Germany).

Mark Williams is a Professor at the College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London in England. His research focus is on the psychological and neural mechanisms which the acquisition and development of perceptual-cognitive and perceptual-motor skills are based upon. He is Editor in Chief for the Journal of Sport Sciences and has written multiple books, articles and abstracts.

In his lecture Developing Elite Football Players: Practice, Specificity, and Plasticity Williams will look at the factors that determine whether a football player becomes elite or not. Contrary to the common perception, ‘talent’ cannot be said to be the main determinant in the development of elite football players.  Recent research in neuroscience has found that individuals can achieve excellence through many hours of deliberate, purposeful practice. Commitment and continual engagement (7,500 hours of practice before the age of 16 years) may be the most important determinants on the path to excellence. The lecture will highlight some of the key psychological adaptations that result from many hours of practice. A particular focus is set on the development of perceptual-cognitive skills such as anticipation and decision making, and practical implications for talent search and development are highlighted.

Tim Meyer is Head of the Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine at Saarland University, Germany, which is one of the FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence. His main research interest is on physiological/medical aspects of football and he functions as a team doctor of die Mannschaft (the German national football team). He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal “Science and Medicine in Football” and Assistant Editor of the “Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport” as well as “Sports Medicine Open”. His department hosts the international PhD programme “Science and Health in Football”.

In his lecture Scientific Support for Elite Football – Lessons from Brazil 2014, Meyer will give an insight into the medical and scientific knowledge underlying team support during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil 2014. Generally, the number of scientifically-educated service team members around top-level football teams is increasing. The transfer of their study outcomes to real-life football, however, is limited due to the lacking willingness of teams to regularly participate in scientific studies and a vague reluctance to consequently use evidence-based methods. Therefore, too often routine measurements in uncontrolled settings are published. – Meyer will talk about the results of such studies during the World Cup. Among other topics, some emphasis will be on the prevention of infectious diseases, the management of climate and time zone changes and the recovery measures during practice and matches, e. g. cooling.

We would be happy to meet you in the plenary session [PS-PL02] “Development of Talented Players to World Champions in Football” at 11:30 on Thursday, 6th July 2017 in Lecture room “Europa/West”.

Session will be livestreamed on ECSS YouTube Channel.