The influence of recruitment age, anthropometric and physical characteristics on the development pathway of English Academy football players

Myers, Tony D., Noon, Mark, Morris, Rhys, Eyre, Emma, Clarke, Neil D., Ellis, Matthew, Mundy, Peter and Penny, Ryan (2020) The influence of recruitment age, anthropometric and physical characteristics on the development pathway of English Academy football players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. ISSN 1555-0273

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Abstract

Purpose: This study aims firstly to investigate the influence of recruitment age on retention and release across the development pathway. Secondly, the study aims to explore the influence of anthropometric and physical characteristics on retention and release at different ages throughout the development pathway and the likelihood of obtaining a professional contract. Methods: Following ethics approval, a cross-sectional study tracking 4 cohorts of players over 5 years assessed 76 male youth football players (11-16 years) from an English football academy on three occasions annually in anthropometry, countermovement jump height, linear (30m and 15m) and multidirectional sprint time. Players were categorised based on their start and release date. Results: Starting early (i.e. before U12) in an academy was a key indicator of obtaining a professional contract, representing 87% of the players signed. Bayesian regression models suggest that the majority of differences in physical characteristics between players that were released and retained are trivial, small and / or uncertain. Players who attained a professional contract at 18 had slower 15m and 30m sprint times at U13-U15 (P>0=0.87–0.99), slower multidirectional sprint times at U14 (P>0=0.99) and a lower countermovement jump height at U13-U16 (P>0=0.88-0.99) compared with players who did not gain a contract. Conclusion: Players recruited early have an increased likelihood of gaining a professional contract. Physical assessments lack utility when used in isolation as a talent identification tool.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2020 (ahead of print). © Human Kinetics, Inc. [or copyright notice shown in journal, if different]
Divisions: Faculty of of Arts, Society and Professional Studies > Department of Health and Behavioural Sciences
Depositing User: Ms Hazel Barham
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2020 05:10
URI: https://newman.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17282

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