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What makes up a football medical? Scans, fat scores and more

Dave Burin | 23 July 2018

Time to take a look behind the curtain

The football medical is the last step a player needs to go through before signing for a new club. But it’s not a simple ‘pass or fail’ situation.

As your team’s next prospective star is put through their paces, the Coral News Team take a look at what the process entails – and the choices clubs have to make.

What are the key elements?

There are six major steps in every football medical, beginning with a basic test and questionnaire on heart and health fitness.

The heart problems suffered on field by players including Fabrice Muamba mean this is something that clubs want to pick up before they escalate.

Once players get the all-clear on that front, it’s onto a test of muscular stability – including potential muscle tightness. And it’s followed by a similar check of how the quads and hamstrings are working.

Next up is a deep scan – usually ultrasound – to check muscles and joints. Then there’s a body fat monitor, with players usually expected to come out around the 10% mark.

Last of all, it’s a straightforward ergometric sprint test – in which players’ pace over 20m is tested.

How do clubs decide?

As mentioned above, it’s not as simple as just passing or failing. Depending on how keen – or desperate – a club is to get a particular player, they might well overlook minor issues.

For example, Charlie Austin failed his medical with Hull City in 2013, just a few short weeks before passing the same test at Queens Park Rangers.

With certain tests in the medical, the results are categorised in terms of Red, Amber and Green. While reds mean a player is more or less a no-go, and green means no problems, with Amber it’s up to the club.

One manager might overlook a minor issue like tight hamstrings or a calf weakness, while another will consider it a deal-breaker.

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