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A Journal on Applied Physiology, Biomechanics, Preventive Medicine,
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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2016 Feb 11

language: English

Technical and physical determinants of soccer match-play performance in elite youth soccer players

Owain ROWAT 1, Jonathan FENNER 2, Viswanath UNNITHAN 1

1 Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK; 2 Sports Science Department, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, UK


BACKGROUND: To evaluate whether physical performance characteristics could be a better predictor than technical skills in determining the technical level of county soccer players in a match situation.
METHODS: With institutional ethics approval, 25 male youth soccer players aged 16-18.5 years from a professional soccer academy in South East Asia were selected and height and body mass were recorded. Players were tested for sexual maturity (pubertal development scale [PDS] self-assessment), aerobic capacity (yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 [YYIRT1]), repeated sprint ability (7 x 35 m sprints) acceleration (15 m sprint) and four soccer skills tests (dribble with pass, dribbling speed, passing and shooting accuracy). Players’ technical ability during match play was assessed in small-sided games of soccer (5 v 5) using a novel game technical scoring chart (scoring chart completed by coaches to assess technical performance in a match situation) developed from criteria (e.g., first touch, dribbling and two footedness) used by youth soccer coaches for talent identification.
RESULTS: A Spearman’s rank correlation showed the YYIRT1 test and 15 m sprint test were limited in predicting technical match performance (r=0.03, p=0.88, r=-0.23, p=0.32 respectively). A Pearson product moment correlation showed that the repeated sprint test was also limited in predicting technical match performance (r=-0.34, p=0.14). A dribbling skill with a pass was found to be the best determinant of a player’s technical ability in a match (r=-0.57, p=0.00).
CONCLUSION: Talent identification and selection programmes in Asian youth soccer should include a dribbling skill performed with a pass.

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