The Football Gene Project

A multi-disciplinary investigation into the association of genetic polymorphisms with performance-related phenotypes in football.

The Football Gene project assesses the link between genetics and performance.


Research background

Recent research has shown considerable evidence of a significant link between genetics and performance. Heritability studies have now shown that a range of performance-related traits are moderately/highly hereditary.

However, heritability studies fail to provide information concerning which genes and polymorphisms are responsible for the variations in athletic performance.

Therefore, the focus of current genetic research in sport is on further understanding genotype-phenotype relationships via genetic association approaches.

The majority of genetic association research has centred on individual sports. Therefore, there is a lack of research focused on team-sport associations. As such, current genetic association research in football is inconclusive in regards to athlete status.

Furthermore, there is a lack of genetic research conducted into specific performance characteristics. Little is known in regards to which genetic variants are influencing e.g. physiological and psychological traits.

Therefore, this project will seek to enhance current understanding of how and what genetic variants influence specific performance parameters in football.

Research aims

The purpose of this project is to conduct a multi-disciplinary investigation, utilising a range of genomic approaches, to identify novel genotype/phenotype associations in football, enhance our understanding of the biological mechanisms underpinning football performance, and facilitate greater individualised athlete development.

How will the research be carried out?

We will collaborate with multiple professional football clubs and organisations to generate a large database containing the genetic information of each player, alongside a range of environmental, psychological, sociological, physiological, technical, and tactical attributes.

Intended outcomes

A recent review on the talent development process in youth football identified that the influence of genetic variants has not been studied in football players.

By examining a wide range of relevant performance-related attributes, it is anticipated that this project will identify genetic associations to support greater individualised and novel coaching in the talent development process in professional football.

Additionally, knowledge of which genetic variants influence specific phenotypes may enable training optimisation and reduce risk of injury.

Research papers