Premier League academy soccer players' experiences of competing in a tournament bio-banded for biological maturation

Sean P. Cumming, Daniel J. Brown, Siobhan Mitchell, James Bunce, Dan Hunt, Chris Hedges, Gregory Crane, Aleks Gross, Sam Scott, Ed Franklin, Dave Breakspear, Luke Dennison, Paul White, Andrew Cain, Joey C. Eisenmann, Robert M. Malina

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Abstract

Individual differences in the growth and maturation have been shown to impact player performance and development in the context of youth soccer. This study investigated Premier League academy players’ experiences of participating in a tournament bio-banded for biological maturation. Academy players (N=66) from four professional soccer clubs between 11 and 14 years of age and between 85-90% of adult stature participated in a tournament. Players competed in three 11 vs 11 games on a full size pitch with 25-minute halves. Sixteen players participated in four 15-minute focus groups and were asked to describe their experiences of participating in the bio-banded tournament in comparison to age group competition. Age groups in the UK are based upon where a player’s birth date falls in relation to the cut of dates for the school year (September 1st to August 31st). All players described their experience as positive and recommended the Premier League integrate bio-banding into the existing games programme. In comparison to age-group competitions, early maturing players described the bio-banded games more physically challenging, and found that they had to adapt their style of play placing a greater emphasis on technique and tactics. Late maturing players considered the games to be less physically challenging, yet appreciated the having more opportunity to use, develop and demonstrate their technical, physical, and psychological competencies. Bio-banding strategies appear to contribute positively towards the holistic development of young soccer players.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-765
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Volume36
Issue number7
Early online date19 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • maturation
  • football
  • youth
  • adolescence
  • bio-banding

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