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Does possession-based football reduce risk of injury ?

edited March 17 in Football

I think it does.

I mentioned elsewhere yesterday that Lewis Wing seems to remain remarkably injury-free. Likewise, Nick Freeman (currently unwell) whose only serious injury (ACL) was inflicted on him by a frustrated opposition player.

If the opposition have 65% possession, scrapping midfielders will have double the workload, biting ankles, crashing into opposition players and chasing back compared to the situation we’ve seen recently when we’ve had 50% - 65% possession ourselves.

On Tuesday, there were comments about Josh Scowen not having received a single vote in the MOTM poll. To me, that reflected the change of approach under Matt Bloomfield. I think the swift and largely smooth transition to a mostly “passing on the deck” style of football will reduce the number of injuries, especially to the likes of Scowen, Gape and Thompson.

As a corollary to the above, I wonder if Sunderland’s possession-based football was at least partly the reason why the fans there apparently didn’t rate Josh that highly ?


  • An interesting thought. My hunch would be that most football injuries are non-impact, but then I suppose those could be made more likely by increased physicality in the first place. There have been some pretty extensive studies into injury prevalence but nothing which splits them along these lines, as far as I can see.

  • I have no qualifications to offer an opinion on whether possession-based football results in fewer injuries than hoofing it high and long.

    However, from the admittedly limited number of Wycombe games I've seen, I've been impressed with the way the players do not roll around on the ground in fake agony at the slightest touch of physical contact, compared with the prima donnas of PL sides and those from other European leagues.

  • Injuries tend to come when you push your body more. I would suggest that possession based sides mean the midfielders are generally running at tempo level and with a lower heart rate, as the transfer up the pitch appears to be slower.

    Playing as a long ball team and/or against a long ball team would suggest the need for more threshold/interval style sprints for a longer length. 50-60 yard sprints versus maybe 20-30 for possesion based.

    For your average human I would expect this to put increased stress on the body and result in lots of minor niggles and injuries, particularly calf, hamstring and glutes.

    For a professional footballer I would hope they'd have less injuries but if they are susceptible to hamstring/calf injuries then long ball is probably not going to help.

    The amount of injuries we seem to get appears to be a lot. I wonder if all clubs experience the same. Be interesting if our training ground soil composition, moisture levels etc would appear to lend to more injuries. Would be a good thesis or study for someone to do, if it hasn't been done. Comparing all the training grounds of the 92 clubs and the injuries within the squads to see if there is any correlation.

  • If that were the case re your last paragraph @Commoner , Barton would not have enough players in the squad to cope with the injury list if his excuse of a poor pitch were true! 😂

  • @micra I suspect Scowen does not get votes not because he was out of the game because we are all Man City like but because some of us would vote for Scowen every time he plays...and the others might get jealous.

  • I seem to remember reading that Bristol Rovers were also seriously injury hit - I think they could 'only' name 6 players on the bench.

    I think I also read that our 'friend' Mr Barton has his players exclusively playing silky possession football and that running around pressing the opposition was far beneath him and his teams.

    So. On the basis of that highly scientific sample I would say the answer is 'no'.

  • If there was anything in this, you feel Gareth would have changed the style accordingly.

    But you think back to that post Torquay season how relatively few injuries we got, and it's pretty amazing that we can rock a 14-15 man squad most of the season.

    Imagine having the players we have out now, then, with barely a full bench, let alone a development squad to dip into? We would have had to have called a few games off.

  • It’s true, Max Stryjek doesn’t even need physical contact to roll around on the floor “injured”.

    “ooh, me cramp”

    that said I think he’s been free from such crippling ailments in the Bloomfield era…perhaps MB has found the magic formula to stop his legs mysteriously seizing up around the 75-minute mark (if we’re winning).

  • Seems like my theory is too simplistic but I feel sure that the less frantic up and at ‘em approach ( notably eschewed by Tjay) will result in fewer injuries. Sincerely hope so !!

  • Bundling into people like De Barr does certainly isn't the way to play 40 games a season.

    But he'll learn to temper that but keep the best parts of his game.

  • Didn't watch the Rovers game I assume?

    He was definitely down late on for something or other.

  • I did, but I’d forgotten that bit…didn’t he actually get legitimately clattered at one point though?

  • Not sure you can be legitimately clattered but I assume you mean he had a genuine reason to hit the deck.

  • I might also add that whilst the defensive side of his game is his finest quality, Josh is also an excellent player in possession and delivers some sublime passes.

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