Comparison of Match Technical Performance in the U13 to U18 Elite Soccer Players

Heita Goto

[Received April 21, 2017; Accepted January 18, 2019] 

The aim of the current study was to examine the match technical performance of the under-13 (U13), U14, U15, U17 and U18 elite soccer players. Fifty seven players from the same academy of a Japanese professional soccer club took part in the study and were video-recorded during the official league matches. All matches were 11-a-side and technical performance was analysed. Total of 118 complete match samples were obtained and each participant took part in 2.1 ± 1.3 matches. The U17 and U18 squads demonstrated the greater number of tackles and touches than the U13 and U14 squads during a match (ES = 0.60-0.70). The U15, U17 and U18 squads showed the greater number of passes, successful passes and ball involvement compared to the U13 and U14 squads during a match (ES = 0.59-0.80). Pass accuracy improved with age from the U13 (67.8 ± 15.3%) to U18 squads (82.1 ± 5.1%) (ES = 0.67-1.00). A positive strong relationship between age and pass accuracy was observed (rs = 0.50). Therefore, in elite youth soccer players: 1) the greater number of technical events is performed during match play as they age; and 2) pass accuracy during match play improves with age.

Keywords: Association football, intermittent sports, pass accuracy, skills, talent identification

[Football Science Vol.16, 1-9, 2019]