Identifying the physical fitness, anthropometric and athletic movement qualities discriminant of developmental level in elite junior Australian football: Implications for the development of talent
National Strength and Conditioning Association
School of Medical and Health Sciences
This study aimed to identify the physical fitness, anthropometric and athletic movement qualities discriminant of developmental level in elite junior Australian football (AF). From a total of 77 players, 2 groups were defined according to their developmental level; under 16 (U16) (n = 40, 15.6 to 15.9 years), and U18 (n = 37, 17.1 to 17.9 years). Players performed a test battery consisting of 7 physical fitness assessments, 2 anthropometric measurements, and a fundamental athletic movement assessment. A multivariate analysis of variance tested the main effect of developmental level (2 levels: U16 and U18) on the assessment criterions, whilst binary logistic regression models and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were built to identify the qualities most discriminant of developmental level. A significant effect of developmental level was evident on 9 of the assessments (d = 0.27–0.88; p ≤ 0.05). However, it was a combination of body mass, dynamic vertical jump height (nondominant leg), repeat sprint time, and the score on the 20-m multistage fitness test that provided the greatest association with developmental level (Akaike's information criterion = 80.84). The ROC curve was maximized with a combined score of 180.7, successfully discriminating 89 and 60% of the U18 and U16 players, respectively (area under the curve = 79.3%). These results indicate that there are distinctive physical fitness and anthropometric qualities discriminant of developmental level within the junior AF talent pathway. Coaches should consider these differences when designing training interventions at the U16 level to assist with the development of prospective U18 AF players.