Every aspect of modern football is being transformed by technology, from improved surgical techniques to virtual reality broadcasts. And by now, no viewer can be unaware of the rise in data analytics as a way to improve decision making – it’s mentioned in the commentary of almost every game. Playcalling, injury recovery and scouting are all fertile areas for the application of analytics.
This book offers a 2022 overview of how technology is changing the sport. Given that one of the author’s, Will Carroll, is an expert in sports science and injuries, there is an understandable focus on that aspect of the game; the Injuries, Equipment and Training/Development chapters are all mostly about injury prevention and recovery.
Not everything is strictly ‘science’, either. The changes in offensive and defensive strategy, for example, are not really driven by science or technology, though we can use analytics to measure their effectiveness.
Elsewhere, the book digs into the rise of the run/pass option, changes in defensive pass coverage and the growth of betting. There’s plenty for fans to get their teeth into.
Will Carroll writes about sports science, sports medicine, and sports. Author of two award-winning books (Saving The Pitcher and The Juice), Carroll currently writes about injuries for his own newsletter and consults with several professional teams and players on sports science. His work has been seen on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Baseball Prospectus, and the New York Times.
Tyler Brooke has been covering the game of football for the last ten years, focusing on film study and the NFL draft. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, SB Nation, and FanSided.
“However, the most dangerous one is the hit where force is applied to a non-moving object. This is almost always a quarterback taking a hit from an edge rusher. There is so much force that several years ago, an NFL doctor told me that most defensive players lose an inch of height over the course of their football career, due to spinal compression from the force of the hits. However, quarter. backs get slightly taller, due to the spinal extension when they get hit from behind.”
“’The head coach confirmed with me his belief that when the game counted the most, in the fourth quarter after 12 to 17 plays on offense, the wide receiver’s speed and effectiveness were way down. He could see that he was gassed and the data showed the coach was right. When we unpacked the player load data from the 100 percent he had available in load on game day, a whopping 40 percent was coming from his pregame warm up!’ said McCoy with a laugh.”
The Science of Football is packed with stories about contemporary football and the influence of science and technology. It’s concise and readable, with each chapter having the feel of a magazine article. You can read it cover-to-cover, or just dive-in to the points of interest. Either way, you’ll come across plenty of fascinating nuggets.
It would have benefited from more in-depth reporting in places. Some sections are reliant on a single perspective. About half of the 16-page Special Teams chapter, for example, is devoted to Sam Schwartzstein’s plans for kickoffs in the XFL, which he hopes will reduce injuries. It’s interesting, but it’s essentially a mini-feature on one guy. It would be stronger with views from others, addressing flaws in the plan or putting it into perspective.
Still, as an overview of trends in today’s game, it’s recommended.
Shane Richmond, Pigskin Books