The advent of ProZone -- which identifies where a soccer player is on the pitch at any point in time -- has allowed managers to better monitor effort and assess talent in the English Premier League. I wonder if the following is related to improved monitoring:
What ProZone class as "high-intensity activities" -- runs made by players at three-quarters of sprint pace or faster -- have increased from 627 per team per match in 2002-03 to 1,209 in 2005-06, and the ground covered by players while sprinting has increased by 40% over four years. A sprint is classed as a run made at quicker than seven metres per second, equivalent to running 100m in a sharp 14 seconds.
Or perhaps it's just the response of other teams trying to cope with (or mimic) the speed of Thierry Henry. Other data from an interesting piece: midfielders cover the most ground, at just over 7 miles per game. Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, who is a notch about average in distance traveled, covered about 380 miles over the course of the season, 1/10th of it at a sprint.