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Medicina dello Sport 2010 September;63(3):409-17


language: English, Italian

Physical fitness and anthropometric characteristics of South African youth soccer players in Potchefstrom, South Africa

Monyeki M. A., Amusa L. O., Goon D. T., Toriola A. L.

1 Department of Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Sciences, North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa 2 Center for Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa 3 Department of Sport, Rehabilitation and Dental Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa


Aim. The purpose of this study was to investigate the anthropometric and physical fitness characteristics of youth soccer players from a township area in Potchefstroom.
Method. A total of 57 community children and adolescents were recruited and voluntarily participated in the project. Anthropometric measurements of stature, weight and 5 skinfolds (biceps, triceps, subscapular, abdominal, and medial calf) were conducted according to the ISAK procedures. Physical fitness parameters of standing long jump, bent arm hang, sit-ups, shuttle run, endurance shuttle run (test) and 30-m sprint were assessed. Soccer skills comprised slalom dribbling, shooting accuracy, and juggling tests.
Results. The results show that older players were significantly taller, heavier and had more adiposity than younger players, and these seem to be in line with the hypothesis that maturation plays a major role in soccer player’s performance. In addition, the older players were more advanced in terms of physical fitness items and skills performances than the younger soccer players. All players performed very low with regard to estimated VO2max.
Conclusion. Differences in anthropometric characteristics by the level of playing in soccer were observable. The results showed that the U-12, U-14 and U-16 players in the study performed poorly in endurance run. Soccer programs targeting the development of skills and physical fitness and with emphasis on soccer skills and physical performance variables like strength, speed and endurance be introduced at an early stage so that they can blend very well at the older level, and hence result in excellent performance.

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