Researchers conclude that while use of camouflage and intelligent colour have proven to be vital in the army for more than a century, football kit colours are still not acknowledged as a possible success factor.
Two separate studies concerning the relationship between the colour of a team’s shirt and visibility were recently conducted, leading to striking conclusions that were published in Science and Medicine in Football, the regular supplement of Journal of Sports Sciences.
In the first experiment, students were asked to try and make a correct assessment of the positions of computer-animated football players who were dressed in different colours. It was shown that a white uniform resulted in the best location assessment. As white outfits were significantly better assessed than green outfitted players’ in a virtual football environment in 5.2% of the trials, it may follow that the ability to successfully pass a ball to a teammate relies directly to the colour of the jerseys of the team. Therefore, it seems a possibility that a team completes more successful passes when wearing high-visible kits.
In the second study, derived from an analysis of the relationship between seasonal results and away outfit’ colours of nine Premier League teams over 17 years, the researchers found that two Premier League clubs’ results: Manchester City and Newcastle United, correlated with a certain degree of visibility of shirts. The researchers argue that the found correlations are ‘preliminary’ outcomes, the results support that the application of smart use of colour may support a team’s style of play.
“…wearing low contrast, camouflaging uniforms may lead to an increase in defensive abilities of teams with a predominant defensive strategy”
Based on their findings, the researchers hypothesize that teams with an attacking style of play such as the former Champions League winner Real Madrid and World Cup champions Germany may have benefitted from the increased visibility of teammates through wearing highly visible (white) kits.
On the contrary, wearing low contrast, camouflaging uniforms may lead to an increase in defensive abilities of teams with a predominant defensive strategy. This hypothesis lead to the striking conclusion that, for attacking-style teams unable to reign on the pitch (such as the England national football team last year), wearing white uniforms may have be a distinct disadvantage.
The authors reason that one can acquire important clues for the application of intelligent colour use in football from the majestic evolutions in the animal kingdom: “Take for example the biological ingenuity seen in stick-insects; as they lack large claws and teeth or venom, they make sure that they blend in perfectly with the environment, so that they can thrive when overlooked by the larger predators.”
While further research is needed to elaborate on the new perspectives, managers seeking opportunities to improve their teams by that crucial few percent may wish to explore the possibilities of applying the gained insights into their new 15-16’s season colours.
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