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Body size, skeletal maturity, and functional characteristics of elite academy soccer players on entry between 1992 and 2003

By C. Carling, F. Le Gall and R.M. Malina


Secular changes in body size, estimated fatness, skeletal maturation, and functional characteristics of youth soccer players on entry into an elite academy between 1992 and 2003 were compared. Annual selections grouped across time (1992–1995, 1996–1998, 1999–2003), playing position (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward), and by eventual status in the sport (professional, non-professional) were compared. Data for 158 players (age 13.4 ± 0.4 years) at entry into the academy included skeletal age (Greulich-Pyle method), height, weight, relative fatness, four field tests of functional capacities (aerobic, anaerobic, power, speed), and quadriceps concentric strength of the dominant and non-dominant legs. MANCOVA with age as the covariate and chi square were used for comparisons across years. With few exceptions (but notably estimated [Vdot]O2max), results for player size, functional characteristics, and skeletal maturation did not differ among years. Distributions of players by skeletal maturity status and within each playing position also did not differ between years. Although related research has suggested that the anthropometric characteristics of professional players and demands of contemporary professional soccer competition increased over this period, the size, maturity, and functional characteristics of youth players on entry to an elite academy and of graduates who eventually played soccer as professionals generally did not change across annual selections from 1992 to 2003. The results suggest a lack of change in selection philosophies and practices of coaches involved in recruiting players for the academy, which in turn is reflected in consistency of specific evaluation criteria employed over the decade considered

Topics: C630
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1080/02640414.2011.637950
OAI identifier:
Provided by: CLoK
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