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Elite Soccer Players Run Less for More Money

First Posted: Dec 27, 2013 07:50 AM EST
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Elite soccer players can be paid millions of dollars in the English Premier League. But it turns out that these players may not be working as hard as they could. Scientists have discovered that while those in the Premier League are paid the most, it's the players in the second and third tier of soccer who run further on the pitch.

For years players in the top tier of English soccer have been paid much higher wages than those in the Championship and League One. Yet it seems that those with lower wages are more likely to cover a greater distance at a higher intensity. So how exactly did researchers find this out?

The scientists analyzed 300 players in the English Premier League, Championship and League One. This is the first time that they've examined the match performance across all three divisions. In the end, the researchers found that players in League One ran a lot further at a higher intensity than those in the Championship. The same was true when Championship players were compared to those in the Premier League. This could be due to more teams adopting a long ball style of play the further you go down the soccer pyramid.

While running wasn't their forte, though, players in the Premier League did perform a greater number of passes and successful passes. They also received the ball more often and had more touches of the ball than those in the Championship and League One.

The findings reveal that it's possible that players at a higher standard have a far higher level of technical skill. Because of this, they don't necessarily need to use the long ball tactic of "kick and rush."

"The research highlights that the long ball game does make you work harder, and that the context of the game dictates how each individual or team works," said Pau Bradley, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Some of the results were quite surprising as we expected there would be differences in the technical areas between the leagues, but not the physical nature."

The findings are published in the journal Human Movement Science.

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