INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH, vol.19, no.2, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
The purpose of this study was two-fold: (i) analyze the variations of locomotor profile, sprinting, change-of-direction (COD) and jumping performances between different youth age-groups; and (ii) test the interaction effect of athletic performance with playing positions. A cross-sectional study design was followed. A total of 124 youth soccer players from five age-groups were analyzed once in a time. Players were classified based on their typical playing position. The following measures were obtained: (i) body composition (fat mass); (ii) jump height (measured in the countermovement jump; CMJ); (iii) sprinting time at 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-m; (iv) maximal sprint speed (measured in the best split time; MSS); (v) COD asymmetry index percentage); (vi) final velocity at 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (V-IFT); and (vii) anaerobic speed reserve (ASR = MSS - V-IFT). A two-way ANOVA was used for establishing the interactions between age-groups and playing positions. Significant differences were found between age-groups in CMJ (p < 0.001), 5-m (p < 0.001), 10-m (p < 0.001), 15-m (p < 0.001), 20-m (p < 0.001), 25-m (p < 0.001), 30-m (p < 0.001), V-IFT (p < 0.001), ASR (p = 0.003), MSS (p < 0.001), COD (p < 0.001). Regarding variations between playing positions no significant differences were found. In conclusion, it was found that the main factor influencing changes in physical fitness was the age group while playing positions had no influence on the variations in the assessed parameters. In particular, as older the age group, as better was in jumping, sprinting, COD, and locomotor profile.