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Will 'match fitness' influence results in sport?

Will 'match fitness' influence results in sport?
© Reuters
The subject of 'match fitness' is a constant topic of debate within sport right now, but will it really make a difference to results?

With the majority of sport having been shutdown over the past couple of weeks, many sportsmen and women have been left in a state of limbo, unsure whether to take the opportunity to give their bodies a well-deserved break or do everything that they can to maintain their fitness. Regardless of their decision, competitors are inevitably going to return to their respective disciplines at different stages and in varying mindsets. Some will be confident of going straight back into a competitive environment as soon as possible, while others will want a longer period to get back to full fitness. In some scenarios, however, they may not be given a choice, and there is an argument that it may lead to some surprise outcomes.

Bookmakers such as Betway will largely have to go with the form guide, a combination of recent results and league placings. There would have been plenty of watchful eyes on the Bundesliga last weekend as Germany's top flight resumed behind closed doors, but there were very few surprise occurrences. Seven of the top eight teams avoided defeat, while only one club in the bottom half of the standings recorded maximum points. Based on that isolated set of results, there is an argument that quality ultimately came to the fore, but if the top teams only improve their sharpness over the coming weeks, there is a considerable chance that it will be business as usual throughout the closing weeks of the campaign.

Speaking with Betway West Ham United defender Ryan Fredericks has suggested that it is going to take time for the Premier League to follow suit. The general consensus is that English clubs would prefer a longer period within their own facilities, effectively a pre-season, before being thrust back into top-flight action, and the Hammers right-back has hinted that teams may flourish of falter based on their preparation over the coming weeks.

Speaking to the same outlet, members of medical and coaching setups have pointed to 'match fitness' being a combination of a number of aspects, and peak performances will not occur unless an athlete, regardless of the sport, has achieved each one, which inevitably takes a period of time. In team sports, friendlies are often played to strengthen someone's competitive nature, but the current global climate means that they will be deemed impossible and unnecessary in all but a few scenarios.

Nevertheless, former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has spoken of never benefitting from facing opponents with little reward on the line, instead preferring to hone his fitness and skills behind the scenes. Such a revelation from a player who was once regarded as the best in his sport highlights the contrasting views and opinions which will be shared right now, making it clear there will not be any conclusive right answer. What is not up for debate is that every sportsmen and women will face certain obstacles, and only when there is a return to some normality will they be able to assess whether the right steps were taken at the right time, by both themselves and the relevant governing bodies.

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Kevin Pietersen pictured in July 2019
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2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721

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