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Physical and technical performances are not associated with tactical prominence in U14 soccer matches

Clemente, F.M.C. ; Figueiredo, A. ; Martins, F. ; Mendes, R. ; Wong, D. P.

Research in Sports Medicine Vol. 24, Nº 2, pp. 1 - 18, June, 2016.

ISSN (print): 1543-8635
ISSN (online): 1543-8627

Journal Impact Factor: 1,704 (in 2014)

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Abstract
This study aims to analyze the association between the physical/technical variables and tactical prominence variables in U14 soccer matches. A total of 22 young amateur soccer players (13.5 ± 0.5 years old, 5.4 ± 0.5 years of practice, and 163.3 ± 9.8 cm in height) from 2 teams of the Portuguese regional league volunteered for the study. The relationship between physical and technical variables (repeated sprint ability, vertical jump, dribbling, and shooting accuracy) and tactical variables (degree centrality, degree prestige, and betweenness centrality levels) were collected by network analysis and examined. ANOVA was used to test the variance of physical, technical, and tactical levels between tactical positions. Our results showed a positive and moderate correlation between dribbling test and betweenness centrality (r = 0.324; p = 0.142) and a negative moderate correlation between %fatigue index and betweenness centrality (r = –0.390; p = 0.073). Physical and technical variables had no statistical differences among tactical positions. Nevertheless, when the tactical prominence of players from four tactical positions were compared, significant differences were found in terms of Degree Prestige (F = 47.252; p = 0.001; η^2 = 0.887) and Degree Centrality (F = 7.202; p = 0.002; η^2 = 0.546). This pilot study did not find strong correlations between physical/technical levels and tactical prominence in U14 soccer matches. Further studies are warranted to analyze maturational status, tactical knowledge, and tactical prominence. Moreover, other physical variables and cognitive maturation could be measured to understand their association with tactical behavior.