Grizzly Posted October 12, 2007 Share Posted October 12, 2007 Though John may have to admit that the media conspiracy is over now (where is he anyway, hasn't posted in a while). Dalla Costa is right that I can't think of any fat top level soccer players (though the same could be said about hockey) but I can think of a few chubby ones (Maradona, Ailton, can anyone think of a few others?). However, the fact the chubby players stood out so much is probably also testiment to the general fitness level of soccer players. Here's the pitch for soccer Sun Special: Part 6 of a six-part series By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/GreatestAthletes/2007/10/12/4571072-sun.html Brazil's Ronaldinho, left, trains with teammates in preparation for the World Cup 2010 qualifying game. Soccer is a unique combination of skill and conditioning. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) Which sport has the best athletes? In this case, appearances aren't deceiving. When was the last time you saw a fat soccer player? If you have, it's probably not at a highly competitive level. The debate over which sport demands the most of its athletes is specious. Even overweight, endurance-challenged football players or baseball players who require a shot of oxygen after a sprint of 270 ft, have tremendous demands placed on their body. They have specific skill sets. Upon further review though, the argument they are superbly conditioned athletes holds as much water as a sieve. You can play specific positions in almost every sport without being in good shape. Frequent stoppages and player substitutions can hide a player that is not fit. Not in soccer. If you can't keep up on the soccer pitch, there is no substitution policy that allows you to hide. Once you are substituted for, there is no returning to the field. In professional matches, a team only has three substitutes a game. A coach can't be using one up on someone who isn't in good enough shape to play. The nature of the sport demands its players be the best conditioned team athletes of any sport. A game is 90 minutes in duration. The only natural stoppages in play come from fouls, when the ball goes out of play, injury or substitutions. We could bore you with the technical aspect of why a soccer player is the most fit. A player covers an average of 10,000 metres a game (about six miles) but it's often more. A player is constantly in motion. They go from a slight jog to a sprint and back to a jog. A player is required to accelerate and decelerate with every change of possession and have the agility to change direction quickly. Studies show a player may sprint as many as 19 times every four or five minutes and change direction or speed every five or six seconds. The players' heart level is constantly elevated for most of the 90 minutes at what would be considered optimum training level. That level rises considerably during sprints and one-on-one battles which comprise a large portion of the game. That's it for the technical stuff. The bottom line is simple . . . there is no more physically demanding team sport. Soccer is a unique combination of skill and conditioning. The game is played, for the most part, only with the feet. A player must run, pass, shoot, dribble effectively after running more than six miles. He needs to sustain a good vertical leap in order to head the ball. In the late '70s and early '80s, one of the most popular television series was the World Superstars television competition. Some of the best athletes from various sports competed in 10 events. Canadian soccer player Brian Budd won it three times in a row. It forced organizers to establish a rule that anyone who won the event three times could no longer compete. As it turns out, some of the best soccer players in the world also happen to be the most fit. --- WHAT THE DOC SAYS "A soccer player has a great need for aerobic fitness. They have to be extremely aerobically fit and at the same time, have enough fast-twitch fibres to allow them that explosive speed when they need to break away. They need a lot of agility -- and a little acting ability, too. Most injuries in soccer occur when they are trying to avoid a collision. That quick, last-second manoeuvre to avoid hitting someone else often leads to knee ligament injuries, particularly. That, and the contact aspect of soccer -- being kicked, stepped on, those kind of injuries are big in soccer." Dr. Bob Litchfield, medical director of the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of Western Ontario. --- ALL STARS 1. Kaka Milan The Milan attacking midfielder isn't the biggest player around but he has the ability to suddenly appear in places no one expects him to be. In the tough-tackling Italian league, he withstands physical assaults which would wilt other athletes. 2. Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United He has a turn of pace like few other players. The Manchester United forward is a wizard with his feet. He is able to control the ball at great speed and has a flair for the dramatic. Ronaldo usually finds himself against the opposition's toughest marker. His fitness allows him to produce moments of brilliance late in games. 3. Steven Gerrard Liverpool The Liverpool midfielder is called a box-to-box player, a player whose area of operation extends from one penalty area to the other. He is the motor which makes his team run. Tireless, he's always on the ball regardless of scoreline. His strength allows him to score from distance. 4. John Terry Chelsea The England and Chelsea central defender is a key element to both clubs. He is the man who often marks the other teams best player. He has a combination of strength and speed. Terry often finds himself in the other team's penalty area on set pieces. He can elevate and is strong in the air. Almost never substituted for. 5. Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona This choice might surprise many. Zambrotta is an Italian national team player who moved from Juventus to Barcelona and is considered one of the most complete players in the world. He can play the midfield, wing and fullback position. A tough tackler, he is also known for his charging runs down the line. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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