No, Soccer Jerseys Improving Performance isn’t a Mental Thing
Mar 8, 2023
We’ve heard claims from soccer apparel giants saying their jersey increases muscle contraction and running speed by “X” percent. Some buy into it, whereas others scoff at the idea of “performance soccer jerseys,” seeing them as a marketing ploy at worst and a placebo at best. But that may not be entirely true either. Although there’s a psychological component at play here, soccer jerseys can indeed affect performance on a physical level.
Companies who claim jerseys boost physical performance
Back in 2010, Adidas introduced their TECHFIT PowerWeb jerseys, the soccer world's version of Iron Man's or Black Panther's suit. They claimed their jerseys reduced muscle vibration, which, in turn, heightened muscle power, acceleration, and endurance. They even cited (likely in-house) research which showed a 5.3 percent increase in power, a 4 percent boost in vertical leap, and 1.1 percent gain in sprint speed.
Spain, who were the 2010 World Cup champions, wore Adidas TechFit jerseys. Coincidence, correlation, or cause? Who knows. It certainly was a good look for Adidas, no matter how you spin it.
Why skeptics say its “psychological”
Any skeptic would reply to Adidas’ claims with a response akin to “give us some real data to prove it.” Which is fair. No study has found a direct link or correlation to support TechFit’s purported ability to make players run faster or jump higher. Ditto for other branded soccer jerseys.
So far, the claims are mainly that—claims, which leads people to assume it’s all a marketing ploy. The thing is, data can be and often is problematic. Numbers don’t lie but they can be misleading, giving the impression that something is more or less effective than it actually is.
Soccer jerseys do things the body can’t on its own
Some technology used in soccer jerseys demonstrates clear physiological advantages. Research has proven that compression technology increases blood flow and by extension oxygen delivery to the muscles. That results in faster recoveries, reduced soreness, and better muscle repair, meaning less muscle fatigue and more time spent on the pitch.
Compression gear also tends to be breathable and has thermoregulating ability. Thermoregulation has a direct impact on soccer performance, something which has been proven by researchers and something most players can relate to personally. Body temperature that remains in an optimal range of 97.7–99.5°F allows blood pressure and circulation to remain stable, so the muscles can exert maximum power.
Above or below that range, performance suffers. That’s especially true in heat when the heart has to pump faster and harder, which naturally kills endurance. Soccer jerseys with breathable fabrics allow air to pass through so players don’t overheat, allowing their heart and muscles to exert less effort.
Here’s another factor—injuries. Most jerseys don’t protect against injuries, and it’s a given that injuries impact performance directly. Even if you muscle through an injury, your output is going to be reduced. So a soccer jersey that can soften or even prevent certain injuries (yes, they exist), will mean less time spent running sluggishly or limping off the pitch altogether. You can train to improve blood flow, thermoregulation, and injury prevention, but there are limits. Soccer jerseys can pick up where human ability ends.
Numbers mean a lot but not everything
Here’s what we can say: maybe it’s not wise or even possible to try and quantify how much of a difference these jerseys can make. If there’s any data, it may not say much, but that doesn’t mean a piece of soccer gear is ineffective.
For example, a coach could tell players to plant their boots in the ground and angle their legs fifty degrees like Messi to reach his penalty-score percentage. Obviously, no coach in their right mind would say that. There’s no guarantee the maneuver will give them Messi’s immaculate penalty kick record. But it’s a given that players who master this technique will improve their penalty kick ability by leaps and bounds. You simply have to watch, and you’ll see the improvements over time.
Same goes for performance soccer jerseys. These “exoskeletons” don't increase speed or strength directly, but they give us enough of a nudge so we feel more powerful on the pitch. And that feeling is enough to elevate our performance.
How Storelli jerseys fit the moldHere at Storelli, our goal is to make soccer jerseys (and other gear) that delivers results, without overpromising or exaggerating. Our jerseys don’t feature “vibration-reduction” and “muscle-contracting” tech. We largely stick to the basics but add some features you don’t find elsewhere. That combination is enough to give any serious soccer player a boost on the pitch, regardless of age or background.
Storelli soccer jersey performance features
Breathability: Our soccer jerseys and tops contain lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow air to flow through, keeping the body cool and at an optimal temperature. Their fabrics also wick moisture away so players can stay cool and dry.
Impact prevention: Our jerseys and tops contain impact-resistant padding that has been demonstrated to reduce impact forces by 90 percent. The padding cushions trauma from blows and collisions, so players can continue playing without feeling the full extent of a hit.
Compression-like fit: Storelli jerseys and tops are formed to fit snugly on the body, giving them a compression-like feel. Players get some of the benefits of compression technology (i.e., better blood flow), but also a comfortable fit that feels light and flexible.
Soccer jerseys can be true performance enhancers
Slight boosts in physical performance often translate into major psychological advantages for players. It's a butterfly effect, an upward spiral. A player feels more free and nimble, their confidence goes up, they’re more aggressive, and more in the zone.
We've all seen (or felt it) when a player is just clicking more than usual in a game. Anything could be responsible for it, and, oftentimes, it's an unexplainable feeling, a subtle one, where you just feel more able than before. Soccer jerseys engineered for performance can do that.