JOURNAL ARTICLE

Longitudinal study of repeated sprint performance in youth soccer players of contrasting skeletal maturity status

João Valente-Dos-Santos, Manuel J Coelho-E-Silva, Vítor Severino, João Duarte, Raúl S Martins, António J Figueiredo, André T Seabra, Renaat M Philippaerts, Sean P Cumming, Marije Elferink-Gemser, Robert M Malina
Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 2012, 11 (3): 371-9
24149342
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the developmental changes in performance in a repeated-sprint ability (RSA) test in young soccer players of contrasting maturity status. A total of 83 regional level Portuguese youth soccer players, aged 11-13 years at baseline was assessed annually. Stature, body mass, 7x34.2-m sprint protocol (25-s active recovery), 20-m multi-stage continuous shuttle endurance run and counter-movement jump (CMJ) without the use of the arms were measured. Fat-free mass (FFM) was determined by age and gender-specific formulas. Developmental changes in total sprint time across ages were predicted using multilevel modeling. Corresponding measurements were performed on an independent cross-sectional subsample of 52 youth soccer players 11-17 years to evaluate the predictive model. CA, CA(2), maturational status (SA-CA), body size (mass and stature), FFM, aerobic endurance, lower limb explosive strength and annual volume training significantly improved the statistical fit of the RSA multilevel model. In 'late' maturing athletes, the best model for predicting change in RSA was expressed by the following equation: 86.54 - 2.87 x CA + 0.05 x CA(2) - 0.25 x FFM + 0.15 x body mass + 0.05 x stature - 0.05 x aerobic endurance - 0.09 x lower limb explosive strength - 0.01 x annual volume training. The best fitting models for players who were 'on time' and 'early' maturing were identical to the best model for late maturing players, less 0.64 seconds and 1.74 seconds, respectively. Multilevel modeling provided performance curves that permitted the prediction of individual RSA performance across adolescent years in regional level soccer players. Key pointsRepeated-sprint ability tests are a valuable sport-specific field test of sprint performance in youth soccer players. Here, the test had reasonable reliability and can be useful to trainers and coaches in the assessment of young athletes and in monitoring changes over time.The total sprint time of youth soccer players advanced in biological maturation improves more, on average, than that of players who are on time (average) and late in maturation. The performance difference between early and late maturing players is consistent after about 13 years of age.Multilevel modeling is a promising statistical technique for analyzing the development of functional capacity in a sport. It has the potential to provide useful information to assist trainers and coaches in evaluating and facilitating the development of individual players.

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