To model the development of soccer-specific aerobic performance, assessed by the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 in 162 elite pubertal soccer players, age 11–14 y at baseline.
Longitudinal multilevel modeling analyses comprised predictors related to growth (chronological age, body size [height and weight] and composition [fat mass, fat-free mass]), and motor coordination [3 Körperkoordination Test für Kinder subtests: jumping sideways, moving sideways, backward balancing] and estimated biological-maturation groups (earliest [>percentile 33] and latest maturers [>percentile 66]).
The best-fitting model on soccer-specific aerobic performance could be expressed as –3639.76 + 369.86 × age + 21.38 × age2 + 9.12 × height – 29.04 × fat mass + 0.06 × backward balance. Maturity groups had a negligible effect on soccer-specific aerobic performance (–45.32 ± 66.28; P > .05).
The current study showed that the development of aerobic performance in elite youth soccer is related to growth and muscularity and emphasized the importance of motor coordination in the talentidentification and -development process. Note that biological maturation was excluded from the model, which might endorse the homogeneity in estimated biological-maturation status in the current elite pubertal soccer sample.
Deprez, Lenoir, Philippaerts, and Vaeyens are with the Dept of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Valente-dos-Santos and Coelho e Silva are with the Faculty of Sport Science and Physical Education, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Address author correspondence to Dieter Deprez at Dieter.Deprez@UGent.be.