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J Sports Sci. 2012;30(15):1719-26. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.731515. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

Talent identification in youth soccer.

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Staffordshire University, Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom.


The purpose of this review article was firstly to evaluate the traditional approach to talent identification in youth soccer and secondly present pilot data on a more holistic method for talent identification. Research evidence exists to suggest that talent identification mechanisms that are predicated upon the physical (anthropometric) attributes of the early maturing individual only serve to identify current performance levels. Greater body mass and stature have both been related to faster ball shooting speed and vertical jump capacity respectively in elite youth soccer players. This approach, however, may prematurely exclude those late maturing individuals. Multiple physiological measures have also been used in an effort to determine key predictors of performance; with agility and sprint times, being identified as variables that could discriminate between elite and sub-elite groups of adolescent soccer players. Successful soccer performance is the product of multiple systems interacting with one another. Consequently, a more holistic approach to talent identification should be considered. Recent work, with elite youth soccer players, has considered whether multiple small-sided games could act as a talent identification tool in this population. The results demonstrated that there was a moderate agreement between the more technically gifted soccer player and success during multiple small-sided games.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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