Last 1st of May I went to Madrid to carry out some body composition measurements on the football players of the television program “Soccer Aces“. This program is the first “reality show” dedicated to football; a football academy with the declared objective of looking for and developing the new stars of the sport at the international level. Hosted by Zinedine Zidane and Enzo Francescoli, two great stars in the history of the sport, the program is an initiative aimed at finding new talent among youngsters from around the world, older than 16 and wanting to become world football stars, or players who were close to making it but, due to various life circumstances, their dreams did not come true. A golden opportunity arises for all of them to find the way to the elite and play professional football, as the winner of the show will have the opportunity to train during the preseason with a team of the BBVA league (La Liga) in the season 2010-2011.

After the castings, which took place in different parts of the world, 50 candidates were selected to meet in Madrid and carry out the last physical, medical and psychological tests, based on which the final 17 participants of the show were selected. In the Aces Academy, these 17 football players live together for 6 weeks, as they would in a professional team’s training camp. The aim is to educate the participants in the values of effort, achievement and team work. The show facilities are based in Madrid and the program is run by a group of professionals from the world of football, who are in charge of directing and evaluating the progress of the finalists.

USP Hospitales is the Official Medical Service of the program, and my participation consisted in performing a series of skinfold measurements on the players, in order to compute the sum of seven skinfolds (triceps, biceps, subscapular, supraspinale, abdominal, front thigh and medial calf) and apply the formulae to estimate the percentage body fat in football players developed by Withers et al. (1987) and Reilly et al. (2009). The limited time available precluded a proper identification of anthropometric landmarks, but the program outcome was pretty decent and the boys showed a great interest in the results of the measurements.

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  1. It is good to see the young player’s interest in this and getting this element of sport science out to the masses (on TV) can only help it’s acceptance!

    In a related question. In a team situation, would you post the results up publicly or feed them back to the players individually, or both? Are there any sensitive populations that you would do things differently with?


    May 16, 2010
  2. Thank you for your comment, Howard. It all depends on the club’s policy on data management. In my own experience in a club/team setting, anthropometric measures are usually regarded as performance measures, rather than medical data, so the numbers are usually known among the team members, as it would happen with countermovement jump height, sprint time or velocity or Yo-Yo IRT level, for example. However, if an individual player prefers his data not to be released or discussed openly, privacy should be respected. But as I said, in my own experience, this would be the exception. Players constantly see eachother in the dressing rooms and showers, so they basically have nothing to hide in terms of anthropometric measures!

    May 21, 2010
  3. It sounds like you have had a similar experience to me. Would this approach be different when working with younger female athletes, however?

    May 30, 2010
  4. My approach would be similar, but as I said in my previous reply, if an individual player prefers his data not to be released or discussed openly, privacy should be strictly respected. I would be particularly careful not to “expose” an individual player perceived to be at risk of developing an eating disorder.

    May 30, 2010
  5. Excellent advice thanks Inigo

    May 31, 2010