What Is the Biomechanics of Soccer?

Erik J.J. Goserud

Biomechanics, as the word suggests, is the merger of biology and mechanics. More specifically, this discipline involves the application of mechanical principles to the movement of biological systems. Biomechanics is a broad umbrella through which a variety of subcategories may be explored. The biomechanics of soccer, for example, is the application of mechanical principles to the specific movements involved in the sport.

A soccer ball.
A soccer ball.

Viewing the body as a machine can be practical in a number of ways. Those working in the biomechanics of soccer, for example, may be able to study movements to make an athlete more efficient and less injury prone, in turn maximizing performance. Many professionals in this field are concerned with sport-specific examples; however, the implications of biomechanics extend far beyond the reach of athletes.

Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.
Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.

One such example of biomechanics outside of sports can be related to those suffering movement disorders. Movement disorders can develop through genetic, lifestyle, or injury-related causes and can dramatically affect a person's ability to achieve a desired quality of life. Perhaps a person with a traumatic brain injury is having difficulty walking. A biomechanic may choose to study the patient's gait, in turn developing insight related to the disorder and improving quality of life. This is but one of the plethora of examples of how biomechanics can help almost anyone who moves.

The biomechanics of soccer, of course, is important in its own way. An aspiring Olympic athlete, for instance, may need to acquire more speed to be considered for a national team. This particular player may possess all other necessary attributes — ball skill, on-field intelligence, work ethic — but perhaps he or she just cannot achieve the breakaway speed needed to be a threat to opposing defenders. The athlete may choose to seek consult with a professional studying the biomechanics of soccer for more insight.

This professional will likely study the player's movements in hope of gaining an idea of the constraints and potential for improvement related to the motion technique. He or she may uncover an imperfection in this athlete's gait, allowing the opportunity for improvement. This may be a daunting task; however, without the biomechanics of soccer, this deficit would never have been discovered. In the modern world of competitive sports, each distinct advantage, regardless of how marginal, can prove important in gaining an edge. A person doesn't have to be an elite athlete, however, to benefit from the biomechanics of soccer as even recreational players can enjoy the game more regularly with the help of this science.

The biomechanics of soccer play a role in the development of realistic soccer video games.
The biomechanics of soccer play a role in the development of realistic soccer video games.

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