Mirkov, DM, Kukolj, M, Ugarkovic, D, Koprivica, VJ, and Jaric, S. Development of anthropometric and physical performance profiles of young elite male soccer players: A longitudinal study. J Strength Cond Res 24(10): 2677-2682, 2010-The purpose of the present longitudinal study was to explore distinctive anthropometric and physical performance characteristics of young soccer players between the age of 11 and 14 and to reveal the performance at the age of 11, which contributes to the later success. Male players of the best national male squads of the ‘cadet league’ (14 years of age; n = 26) were annually tested starting from the age of 11 for body size and composition, flexibility, power, coordination, and agility. Randomly selected untrained but physically active age-matched boys (n = 63) were also tested over 4 consecutive years. The results revealed no difference between 2 groups regarding the body size and composition (p > 0.05). The differences in flexibility emerged only at the later age, whereas the differences regarding the explosive power (as assessed by various jumps) were moderate and partly inconsistent. The most prominent advantage of the soccer players over the control subjects during the entire tested age period appeared to be movement agility and coordination (p < 0.01). Therefore, the explosive muscle power and, in particular, the agility and coordination characterize elite soccer players of 11-14 years of age but not the body size and body composition. In addition, the agility and coordination could be among the crucial factors of future success in 11-year-old players and, therefore, should be used for early selection.
1Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, The Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia; and 2Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
Address correspondence to Dr. Dragan Mirkov, firstname.lastname@example.org.