Tactical team performance in elite-standard youth soccer during small-sided games

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INTRODUCTION Soccer is a complex game with interacting players and teams. Team members cooperate to score a goal and opponent players try to keep the opponent from scoring. In addition, young soccer players need excellent tactical skills to reach the top. Tactical behavior emerges through interactions between opposing teams. This study aimed to determine the tactical team performance in elite-standard youth soccer players of two age categories (under-17 and under-19) during small-sided games (SSGs). METHODS 39 elite-standard male youth soccer players were assigned to two teams (under-17 and under-19) and 24 small-sided games were played in total. Positional data (LPM-system) were collected to determine tactical performance measures of the teams (mean ± sd): inter-team distances, stretch indices and length per width ratios (lpwratios). In addition, interaction behaviour were determined for these measures, in order to capture the coordination patterns in these age groups. RESULTS Differences between age groups were found for the lateral stretch index (under-19 5.24 ± 0.08m; under-17 5.03 ± 0.07m) and the lpwratio (under-19 0.97 ± 0.03; under-17 1.00 ± 0.04), but not for the longitudinal stretch index. Also, no differences were found for inter-team distance of the centroids between age categories. In addition, in-phase behaviour was dominant for the team centroids (>70% of the time). In-phase behaviour was less dominant, for stretch indices and lpwratios (>50% of the time). No differences were found between the age categories in these coordination patterns. DISCUSSION Differences were found for the lateral stretch index and the lpwratio between age groups, meaning that under-19 made more use of the pitch width. In contrast, no differences existed in the coordination patterns between the teams. Both age groups were similarly attracted to a dominant in-phase behaviour and a less dominant anti-phase behaviour. Positional data can be used in order to determine differences in tactical performance in elite-standard youth soccer teams. Coach instructions and training exercises should be directed at exploiting pitch width to increase the pursuit of goal-scoring.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventScience and Engineering Conference on Sports Innovations - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 8-Apr-2016 → …


ConferenceScience and Engineering Conference on Sports Innovations
Abbreviated titleSECSI
Period08/04/2016 → …

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