Incorporating 'in-game' scenarios into player-surface studies

To gain understanding of how different movements, in-game scenarios and surface properties affect the loading of the musculoskeletal system research is needed that combines all of these aspects. Before conducting this research it is important to know what soccer players themselves consider important with regard to their movements in a game situation, and what surface properties they prefer. From the results of a focus group and a questionnaire (completed by 58 players) it is clear that there are several movements and one-on-one situations that they consider important. There were differences in ratings between playing positions and playing levels, and it is important to consider these aspects in any future studies. All surface properties were considered important by the players and there were no differences in playing level or playing position. However, surface characteristics such as stud penetration and uniformity were rated lower in importance than: evenness of the surface, a smooth ball roll and predictable ball bounce. For most other properties intermediate values were preferred. A comparison between the rating of the two Loughborough University artificial turf pitches showed a significant difference in the rating for traction, which was confirmed by previous mechanical measurements. There were also differences in the rating for hardness and shock absorption between the surfaces, though this was not confirmed by previous mechanical measurements. This paper presents the findings of the player feedback study and makes recommendations for an experimental player-surface interaction study design from the outcomes.