Is size still one of the most important factors when it comes to modern day footballers, or has skill now become a more important asset? England skipper Harry Kane was released from Arsenal as a youngster due to being overweight and relatively short, however the striker is now one of the leading marksmen in the game. English football in particular has seen an increase in the physicality of players over recent years, however this certainly should not mean that there is no place for smaller players.
While the perfect player will score highly when it comes to both skill and athleticism, football today caters for individuals of all kinds. The days when players were judged more on their physical stature are certainly gone, with teams from recreational to professional levels featuring a whole host of smaller players. There is no doubt that speed and dynamism are both still key characteristics, but there is perhaps now more than ever room in a team for smaller, creative players.
Changes in the Professional Game
For fans of the Premier League, Arsenal’s summer signing Lucas Torreira has been a revelation so far this season, while Bournemouth’s Scottish international winger Ryan Fraser has been one of the standout players for Eddie Howe’s side. The duo stand at 5’6” and 5’4” respectively, with both the Gunners and the Cherries having played some of the best football in the top-flight over recent times, with Torreira and Fraser having been integral in this. Meanwhile, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were part of the Barcelona team who were branded as the best team ever by many just a matter of years ago.
In fact, the six shortest playing squads in the Premier League, including Manchester City and Arsenal, are inside the top half of the standings at present, while Huddersfield Town are an example of a physically impressive outfit struggling to find their top form. More work than ever is now being done in order to ensure that smaller players do not miss out on opportunities, with the look of football having changed as a result.
The perception of certain players is always an interesting subject, with taller individuals being associated with aggression and aerial ability, while more diminutive players are often expected to be quicker and more skilful. Such perceptions are, of course, nonsense on the whole, with players more than ever defying such logic.
BioBanding, a subject that we have already discussed in detail here at Spond, is one tried and tested method used in order to tackle the issue of late developing players, grouping individuals based on their physical attributes, rather than age. Many Premier League academies have now embraced the concept, with BioBanding tournaments taking place across the country on a regular basis.
Shorter players are now given offered the right environment to help maximise their potential, with English football becoming more and more accommodating for such individuals due to the technical and tactical sides of the game having increased in importance.
Manchester United recently suffered injuries to three key players during the first half of their Premier League clash against rivals Liverpool, leading to questions regarding fitness and preparation. So, just why is warming up before training and matches so important for players?
A significant proportion of goals scored today are now achieved through a one-touch finish, with attackers having less time to take a touch and compose themselves when in the box. However, just what are the best exercises in which coaches can use to improve players in this area of the game?