Author\’s Note: This post is one in a series of posts that breaks down the 2010 Soccer MVP Tournament competition. Be sure to look at the final results to review how \’Inside\’ was crowned champion. What do you call this part of the foot? Please vote.
There is an old expression that goes, \’When in Rome, do as the Romans do.\” Today people usually use this expression when asked how one should be behave when visiting a foreign country or visiting someone\’s house. Basically, you won\’t go wrong if you follow the lead of the locals or homeowner, respectively.
This expression holds true in soccer as well. When playing soccer, if a player emulates his/her favorite professional player or team, chances are he/she will become a pretty good soccer player.
With that said, \’Inside\’ is by far and away professional players\’ most used surface and easily won the \’Popularity Among Professionals\’ discipline (see table below).
\’Inside\’ won both competitions that were used to measure popularity. The first competition counted the number of touches that took place in one half of an English Premium League game. The second competition examined the number of goals that were scored over a month in professional leagues across the world.
For this competition, I broke down only the first half the Chelsea vs. Arsenal game that was played February 7, 2010. The touches were broken down by the four main disciplines already examined in this competition. They were receiving, dribbling, passing, and shooting. For each discipline I examined which foot surface was used to perform the skill. They are inside, outside (laces), outside, and bottom. The table also includes touches made with the thighs, chest, and head.
When counting touches, I followed these rules and protocols:
- I only counted the touches that were shown on TV.
- On 50-50 balls or when the ball ricocheted off player like a pinball , I did not count those touches.
- It was easy to differentiate between inside touches and all other touches. It was harder to differentiate between a top (laces) and outside touches, especially when dribbling.
- I categorized all headers under \’receiving\’ unless they were shots on goal.
The results speak for themselves.
- For both receiving and passing categories, \’Inside\’ had more touches than all other surfaces combines (including the non-foot surfaces). Chelsea\’s 55% receiving percentage is a little low because of the number of headers they had (27)
- Of all the touches in the game, nearly two-thirds of them were made with the inside-of-the-foot (62% and 63%)
- Even with dribbling, \’Inside\’ was the most popular surface, 41% and 44%, respectively.
- In this game, \’Laces\’ was the most popular surface. However in the goal-scoring competition below, you will find a surprising but clear winner.
For a five-week period, I looked at all the goals shown on the major soccer highlight shows including Fox Sports Report, Gol TV, La Liga, Sky Sports, and Hallo Bundesliga. I usually looked at several shows a week. When the same goal was shown on multiple shows, the goal was only counted once. In addition, if it was not clear what surface was used to score, the goal was not counted.
In what I\’m sure will surprise many, \’Inside\’ won every single week, During the week, the percentage was over 50% once and never below 44% for goals scored with the inside-of-the-foot. Those are impressive percentages. (I included headers because they accounted for a good portion of the goals.)
There should now be a new soccer expression that players should follow and coaches and parents should promote. It is, \”When on the soccer field, do as the professionals do and use the inside-of-the-foot.\”