Written by Dr Liam Anderson
Football has recently seen a change in its rules with the introduction of new additional time regulations. These rules have sparked discussions and debates among fans, players, and staff at professional clubs with high profile players and managers expressing their thoughts on the new rule. One of the key discussions with these rule changes is how they can lead to increased physical exertion of players who have already extremely high demands and congested fixture schedules. In this blog post, I will delve into the additional time rules in football and examine how they can potentially push players to their limits if not managed correctly.
Image credit: Emilio Garcia
In an effort to combat time-wasting and ensure a fairer representation of actual playing time, football’s governing bodies are committed to ensure a more accurate calculation of additional time. These rule changes look to increase the amount of time the ball is in play and look to add on more accurate time when it is lost within various game events (goals, injuries, cards, substitutions etc.). Reasons behind this have not been clear but they might seem necessary with last season’s Premier League having the lowest ball in play time than the previous 10 years despite increased actual playing time.
So, how do these new rules lead to more physical exertion among players?
It is well known that football has evolved in recent years with increases physical outputs in matches. This rule change is expected to increase these demands greater so that players are performing at these increased physical outputs for longer periods. Average total game time has increased from 3-4 minutes already this season which has led to an increased ball in play time of 3.5-8 minutes across different leagues in England. If players play this additional time over a season it can equate to around an extra 4 games a season overall for those who play every minute. This has obvious implications for players physical performance, fitness and injury rates and has increased the challenge on Sports Science and backroom staff throughout the game. However, the increased substitution rule that come into effect for the 2022/23 season where players can now use up to 5 substitutes per game can help mitigate the effects of this increased playing time if used strategically.
The rules of the game are consistently changing and add to the excitement by making it more engaging for fans. This places a more extensive onus on the Sports Science and backroom team to train, monitor and manage players accordingly over a season. In a sense, it increases the reliance on these staff for overall squad health and welfare with the ones who adopt the strategies to do this correctly, likely succeeding in their approach.