Talent identification in soccer: the influence of technical, physical and maturity-related characteristics on a national selection process

Michael King, Matthew Brown, John Cox, Ross McLellan, Christopher Towison, Steve Barrett

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Abstract

The present study examines the influence of technical, physical, and relative age characteristics on players selection success within the Scottish Performance School trials. Ninety adolescent players (81 males, 9 females; mean ± standard deviation: age = 11.3 ± 0.4 years, height = 149.6 ± 6.9 cm, mass 38.1 ± 4.7 kg) performed a battery of physical fitness (20m Sprint, CMJ, 5-0-5 agility test), anthropometric, and 8 small-sided games (SSG; 9v9) as part of a talent identification (TID) programme. Players technical (ball touches, time on the ball, high-speed releases) and locomotor activities (high-speed running distance, sprint distance, accelerations, and decelerations) were monitored using foot-mounted inertial measurements units during SSG’s. The data was analysed using independent sample T-tests. Mann-Whitney U analyses were conducted to examine the differences between groups whose data was determined as being (non)parametric, with Cohen effect sizes applied. Successful players performed significantly better during physical tests (Effect size ± confidence limits: Left 5-0-5 = -0.89±0.13, Right 5-0-5 = -0.51±0.11), had significantly higher locomotor activities during SSG (high-intensity distance = 0.4±26.6, horizontal accelerations = 0.59±1.19) and significantly higher technical outputs during SSG (touches = 0.71±6.1, releases = 0.49±2.5, high-speed releases = 0.59±2.7, time on the ball = 0.52±3.4) compared to unsuccessful players. Successful players had significantly higher locomotor activities and technical outputs during SSG than their unsuccessful counterparts. Monitoring technical and locomotor activities during SSG may compliment or replace physical testing batteries for assessing TID processes in soccer.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0298359
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2024

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