Growth and maturation affect long term physical performance, making the appraisal of athletic ability difficult. We sought to longitudinally track youth soccer players to assess the developmental trajectory of athletic performance over a 6-year period in an English Premier League academy. Age-specific z-scores were calculated for sprint and jump performance from a sample of male youth soccer players (n = 140). A case study approach was used to analyse the longitudinal curves of the six players with the longest tenure. The trajectories of the sprint times of players 1 and 3 were characterised by a marked difference in respective performance levels up until peak height velocity (PHV) when player 1 achieved a substantial increase in sprint speed and player 3 experienced a large decrease. Player 5 was consistently a better performer than player 2 until PHV when the sprint and jump performance of the former markedly decreased and he was overtaken by the latter. Fluctuations in players’ physical performance can occur quickly and in drastic fashion. Coaches must be aware that suppressed, or inflated, performance could be temporary and selection and deselection decisions should not be made based on information gathered over a short time period.
- muscular power
- running velocity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation