You might assume that Argentina’s Lionel Messi, one of the best football scorers in the world, has one of the highest “activity” rates of any player on the field–chasing down every pass and stray ball. However, there is more than meets the eye to Messi’s success.
A study by The Journal of Human Kinetics classified how much each player ran at certain speeds in the 2010 World Cup: low, medium and high. For comparison, goalkeepers averaged between 96% and 99% in “low” activity. Messi is currently tied with two other players for top scorer in this year’s World Cup, yet he spends 90% of his time on the field in “low activity” mode!
At first, this seems totally confounding. How is this possible? What does Messi know about performance that we don’t?