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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2014 June;54(3):307-16


language: English

Maturity-associated variation in change of direction and dribbling speed in early pubertal years and 5-year developmental changes in young soccer players

Valente-Dos-Santos J. 1, Coelho-E-Silva M. J. 1, Vaz V. 1, Figueiredo A. J. 1, Capranica L. 2, Sherar L. B. 3, Elferink-Gemser M. T. 4, 5, Malina R. M. 6, 7

1 Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; 2 Università degli Studi di Roma, Foro Italico, Rome, Italy; 3 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK; 4 Center for Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands; 5 Institute for Studies in Sports and Exercise, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 6 Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA; 7 Department of Health and Physical Education, Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX, USA


AIM: The purpose of the current study was to assess the developmental changes in change of direction and dribbling speed in youth soccer players taking into account skeletal age (SA), maturity status, body size, estimated fat mass, aerobic endurance, lower limb explosive strength and annual volume of training.
METHODS: Eighty-three male soccer players aged 10-15 years (SA) at baseline were annually followed over 5 years, resulting in an average 4.4 observations per player. After testing for multicollinearity, multi-level regression modeling was used to examine the longitudinal developmental changes on change of direction and dribbling speed.
RESULTS: Maturity-associated variability was significant in change of direction and also dribbling speed among young soccer players aged 12-14 years with better scores being performed by late maturers. Moreover, the predicted longitudinal scores for change of direction and dribbling speed improved with SA (P<0.01), SA2 (P<0.01) and skeletal maturity status entered as an additional developmental predictor (P<0.05). Estimated fat-free mass (P<0.01), aerobic endurance (P<0.01) and lower limb strength (P<0.01) were additional predictors in both models. The soccer-specific skill, dibbling speed, was also explained by annual volume of training (P<0.05).
CONCLUSION: Skeletal maturity status explains inter-individual variability on maximal short-term run performances with and without the ball possession at early ages of participation in competitive soccer. The effects tend to persist across ages combined with longitudinal changes in body composition and functional fitness. In the particular case of the ball test, annual volume of training was also a longitudinal performance predictor.

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