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Goalkeepers are more likely to dive to the right when their team is behind in a penalty shootout, according to analysis of World Cups since 1982. Dutch psychologists claim it’s common for the ‘right-oriented’ human brain to go this way when the potential rewards are highest.

EARLY BATH FOR THIGHS Thigh strains are the most common injury sustained by footballers during the pre-season period, according to research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Studies also found that players who suffer a hamstring strain are far more likely to re-injure the muscle during the season.

REFFIN’ HELL Not all refs follow the rulebook on foul language. A study of 113 refs from the University of Vienna showed that 55 per cent would respond to players swearing with a red card; 25 with a yellow; 12 with a ticking-off; while seven would keep schtum. Unsurprisingly, it was found that the content determined the decision.


Footballers’ reaction times, precision movement and efficiency can be improved by DHA, a nutrient found in fish oil. A trial of 24 female footballers showed significant improvement in those who popped

3.5g per day of the fishy pills,

compared to a placebo.

30 SECONDS That’s the time difference between men and women getting up after being fouled. “Male players use interruptions tactically,” says study researcher Malte Siegle. “When they are in the lead, players take their time with injuries – but this is not observed in women’s football.”



Analysis of top European games reveals that the first substitution should be made prior to the 58th minute; the second before the 73rd and the third before the 79th. Losing teams that follow this score 36 per cent of the time; those that don’t, just 18 per cent.

FITTEST ISN’T ALWAYS FINEST A study of semi-pros found that those who are good at passing, shooting and tackling in matches weren’t necessarily the most athletic players. Experts concluded that ‘weaker’ athletes made up for deficiencies by tackling harder and passing more in games.

UP AND AT ’EM Your personality dictates whether you’re more or less likely to go up for a header. A study into the health effects of heading the ball noticed that, after assessing personality types, keen nodders have the most extrovert personalities.

CLOSE YOUR EYES... ...and see yourself being hypnotised – then scoring the winner – to boost confidence. Researchers into the Effects of Hypnosis on Self-Efficacy and Soccer Performance found that ‘ego-strengthening’ saw a big rise in one unnamed pro’s stats.


Start necking those Vitamin D supplements. Studies on American footballers playing in the NFL found a lack of the nutrient could increase the chance of a muscle injury. “Screening and treatment of Vitamin D insufficiency may be a simple way to help prevent injuries,”

said Dr Scott Rodeo, co-chief of the

US Sports Medicine Service.

Studies and authors: (‘Early bath for thighs’); University of Amsterdam (‘Keep Right’); Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 2011 (‘Reffin’ hell’); University of Valencia (‘Oil intake...’); Munich Technical University (‘30 seconds’); Bret Myers, Villanova School of Business (‘The sub-way’); University of Queensland, Australia (‘Fittest isn’t always finest’); Florida Institute of Technology (‘Up and at ’em’); University of Staffordshire

(‘Close your eyes...’); American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (‘Edge of the ‘D’’)

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