In what will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest and most unlikely sporting triumphs of all time, this May saw Leicester City crowned Premier League champions.
That’s the same Leicester City who just six years previously had been playing League One football. The same Leicester City who just twelve months earlier had just managed to produce one of the most remarkable escapes from relegation that the Premier League has ever seen. The same Leicester City who were 5,000-1 rank outsiders with most bookmakers to claim the Premier League title heading into the upcoming season.
How on earth had they managed to do it? Was it just an unbreakable team spirit? Was it the tactical genius of Claudio Ranieri? Over the course of the season, many tried and failed to work out the magical Leicester City formula – but to no avail.
With only 13 injuries all season, one factor that undoubtedly helped the Foxes on their way to glory was their ability to field a relatively unchanged line-up week in, week out, which allowed the side to develop a specific playing style in which every single player on the park were always aware of what was expected of them. Whereas many teams chopped and changed on a regular basis, Leicester made just 33 alterations to their line-up throughout the course of the entire thirty-eight game season. That was the fewest in the entire league. Just to put that into further perspective, this figure was 21 less than the team with the second lowest number of changes – Bournemouth.
This is a truly remarkable achievement. The Premier League is known for its fast pace and physicality, which over the course of a season can take their toll on players’ bodies. Therefore it is extraordinary that Leicester sustained only 13 injuries across the season. Throughout the campaign, pundits frequently asked questions such as “Well what will they do if they lose Vardy to injury? Or Mahrez? Or Kante?” But they didn’t. In fact, eight of their regular starters played over 30 games each, providing exactly the sort of consistency that allowed them to establish and sustain their successful playing style across the whole of the season.
One of the factors to which the club have attributed this successful ability to keep players fit is the introduction of cryogenic ice chambers into the post-match recovery process. Establishing a partnership with Cryoaction, the club harnessed the latest sports technology so as to give themselves the edge in the ultra-competitive realm of the Premier League.
In the past, players with little niggles or twinges may have found themselves on the sidelines for a week or so, or worse, out for the long-term due to aggravating said injuries. However, courtesy of their new cryogenic chamber, Leicester were able to minimise their players’ absences thanks to the enhanced recovery process they were able to introduce. This gifted them more time on the training pitch to develop their title-winning strategy and build up their remarkable team spirit by allowing the same players to work and play together every week.
As has been well documented, what Leicester went on to achieve will be forever remembered as one of sport’s great underdog stories. But the preparation and technological diligence that was occurring behind the scenes reflects how the club was well aware of the extra advantages that could be harnessed from the application of the latest breakthroughs in sports science. It therefore comes as no surprise that many other major sports teams are now looking at companies like Cryoaction so as to gain that extra advantage as well.
Here at SQN, we too understand the complementary relationships that can exist between the worlds of sport and technology and how by working together, both industries can see hugely beneficial results.