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Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, EMBASE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index
Online ISSN 1827-1812
Waldron M., Gray A., Murphy A.
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, USA
This study, firstly, established the between-match variability of soccer-match performance among under-14 players and, secondly, investigated the relationship between match performance variability and both maturity and chronological age. Participants were recruited from two under-14 youth squads in England. The between-match variation of each player was quantified using the Coefficient of Variation (CV %) over a minimum of two and a maximum of five matches (N.=110). Measurements included passing frequency per minute, heart rate (bpm), post-match Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and both total and high-intensity metres per minute (total m·min-1 HIM m·min-1, respectively), derived from Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Assessments of physical maturity (age at peak height velocity; APHV) were also conducted. Passes·min-1 (15.2±5.4%) were the most variable, followed by HIM m·min-1 (13.9±4.9%) and RPE (13.7±4.4 %). The least variable components were HR (4.1±2.6%) and total m·min-1 (5.5±4.7 %). There were strong relationships between APHV and CV% of HIM m·min-1 (r=0.69, r2=0.47), APHV and CV%of average match HR (r=0.54, r2=0.29) and APHV and CV%of RPE (r=0.63, r2=0.40). Physical maturity, but not the chronological age, of youth soccer players explains between 29% and 47% of the variance in components of match performance. Our findings reaffirm, for different reasons, the importance of differentiating between maturational status and chronological age when evaluating youth soccer players’ performance.