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1984 Publications

Profiling of Professional Football Playersby Gilbert W. Gleim, M. S. - last modified 2013-02-09 00:00
Clinics in Sports Medicine-Vol. 3, No. 1, p185-198 January 1984


American football places increasing importance on size, strength speed, intelligence, coordination, and agility as a player progresses from the ranks of PeeWee to professional. This progression indicates a significant selection process that, by the time a player has reached the professional level, places him in a group with less than .00075 per cent of the population of the United States. As a result, profiling the professional football player yields the best opportunity to study the demands of the sport.

Even the novice football fan is aware of the significant differences that exist between a professional lineman and a wide receiver. Consequently, profiling in football must take into account the requirements of the varied positions. It should also consider the fact that no sport relies on solely one performance factor. An athlete who is subpar in one area makes up for this in other areas if he is to succeed.

Obviously, it is not possible to measure all of the variables that dictate success in football. Motivation, competitiveness, timing, and skill are difficult to quantify, whereas strength, speed, conditioning, and the size, weight, and proportions of the human body do lend themselves to measurement. This article discusses the measurement of one professional football team during 1979. Differences in individual variables among the four basic positions on a football team will be discussed. Then a statistical treatment called "discriminant analysis" will be described in an attempt to interrelate the variables to create the four distinct subgroups, or positions. Finally, the discriminant analysis will be used to demonstrate its ability to predict injury within each of these positional groupings.