Athlete Status in Association Football gene explained

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Athletic DNA Explained: Athlete Status in Association Football  

Soccer (football) is one of the most popular sports in the world. Even if you are not a big fan of soccer, you probably still recognize its popularity. There is no doubt that soccer is a game that requires tremendous strength and endurance. The powerful actions needed to play, such as jumps, tackles, shots at goals, rapid changes of direction, and sprints, are almost continuously performed in a game. 

So, what exactly are the determinant factors necessary to be a better soccer player? Is all that strength, endurance, and coordination learned, or does it come from athletic genes? It turns out the answer is both. People with certain genetic factors may have a head start when it comes to athletic ability. 

Athletic Ability and DNA: The Link

Did you love playing catch as a child but dropped more balls than you caught? Maybe you were one of the most enthusiastic members of your youth soccer team but never scored a goal. Some of the traits needed to succeed in athletics, such as strength and speed, do have a strong genetic link. 

Studies that measure the differences and similarities in athletic performance among family members suggest genetics account for up to 80% of athletic differences. At least 155 genetic markers are believed to affect elite athletic ability, but not every person born with athletic genes becomes player of the year. 

Environment, nutrition, support, exposure, and other genetic factors also play a part in individuals' interests. 

Athlete Status in Association Football Gene Explained: Could Your DNA Reveal Your Athlete Status in Association Football? 

The underlying genetic factors for athletic status in power athletes have been extensively studied in sport sciences.The actinin alpha 3 (ACTN3) gene is a sarcomeric protein that is greatly expressed in muscle tissue, and the ACTN3 gene controls the coding of the protein.

A large number of studies have reported the relationship between the ACTN3 gene and sprint performance. Therefore the gene is often called the sprint/sport gene. Many studies have reported that either the RR (CC) genotype of ACTN3 R577X (rs1815739) was overrepresented or the XX (TT) genotype was underrepresented in power-related sports (e.g., 100 m sprint, rowing, speed skating, artistic gymnastics, sprint swimming, Olympic weightlifting) across America, Polish, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Israeli, and Russian cohorts. 

Researchers performed a literature-based meta-analysis to understand the relationship between the ACTN3 gene polymorphisms (rs1815739) and athletic status in soccer  both power and endurance-related sport.

‍The studies were searched and located in databases like— Pubmed, SPORTDiscus, and MEDLINE. This process initially identified 290 studies for ACTN3. After conducting a quality control filtering of the initial results, 17 studies were included for meta-analysis to determine which allele and/or genotypes of rs1815739 are most likely to influence athletic status in soccer players. 

A Closer Look at Athletic Genes

When looking at both pro athletes, and non-pro, several significant associations were observed in recessive and dominant genetic models as well as the genotypes of RR (CC) vs. XX (TT) and RR (CC) vs. RX (CT). As hypothesized, CC genotypes were overrepresented in professionals compared to non-professionals, suggesting that the C allele is a likely, albeit small, contributing factor to attaining PRO status in soccer.

This review attempted to include both male and female soccer players, but unfortunately, the authors could only locate one study involving female players. Therefore, the results from this review mainly apply to male football players. 

Also, the ethnic and geographic implications of this review particularly concern Brazilians and Caucasians due to both representing the majority of the football players included in this review. Thus, additional research is still required on players of diverse geographical ancestry. Read more about the study here:

‍Are Great Soccer Players Born or Made?

If you were not fortunate enough to be born with the sprint/sport gene, should you give up on your dream of becoming a world-class soccer player? Absolutely not. DNA does have some definitive effects on who you are, but it’s not the only factor to consider. 

Being genetically at risk for certain kinds of cancer does not guarantee contracting that disease. In fact, knowing you are genetically predisposed may help you make the lifestyle changes needed to remain healthy. 

The same is true for athletic ability. Genetic testing can help you make the most of training sessions whether you have the ACTN3 gene or not. It’s true you might have to work harder or train differently than those with athletic genes, but DNA alone doesn’t determine anyone’s ability to succeed. 

Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for athletic status in football? You can login to your Genomelink YOUR TRAITS to see this new genetic trait.

Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for athletic status in football? You can login to your Genomelink YOUR TRAITS to see this new genetic trait.

Join now & unlock 300+ unique Traits like this.

100+ are available for free