Physical and anthropometrical attributes of Australian youth soccer players
School of Medical and Health Sciences
To determine whether Australian youth soccer players of varying levels could be distinguished based on their anthropometrical and physical attributes.
A cross-sectional observational design was used, involving six anthropometrical and physical tests for each player.
Participants represented three youth levels of competition, namely national elite (n = 18), state elite (n = 22) and sub-elite (n = 22). Anthropometrical and physical tests included standing height; body mass; 5, 10, 30 m sprint and 20 m ‘flying start’ sprint; zig-zag agility test; vertical jump and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test level 1. A multiple analysis of variance for the main effect of cohort, with a follow-up ANOVA and Tukey's Honest Significant Difference were used to discern which attributes differed between each cohort. Receiver operating characteristic curves were calculated, providing cut-off values between cohorts.
The national elite cohort was significantly taller than the state elite cohort (ES = 0.94) and faster than the sub-elite athletes across 30 m (ES = 0.79) and 20 m with a flying start (ES = 0.77) (P < 0.05). The national elite cohort had a significantly higher level of intermittent endurance, compared to the state elite athletes who also performed better than the sub-elite cohort. The discrepancy between groups in the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test level 1 was exemplified by the receiver operating characteristic with 94.1% of national elite players running further than 1980 m, while 95.7% of state elite and 100% of sub-elite players failed to reach this distance (ES = 0.88–1.77).
It is evident that anthropometrical and physical attributes differ between youth cohorts, particularly intermittent endurance. It is important to use this knowledge to enhance the current processes used to identify future talent for success in Australian soccer.