Performance Analysis in Football-Specific Tests by Para-Footballers With Cerebral Palsy: Implications for Evidence-Based Classification

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: The objectives of this study were to analyze whether there were differences among para-footballers with different types and degrees of brain impairment (ie, bilateral spasticity, athetosis/ataxia, unilateral spasticity, minimum impairment criteria, or no impairment) in performing 3 football-specific tests requiring ball dribbling, to analyze whether there was an association among the results obtained in the 3 tests, and to determine whether the performance in the tests was associated with competitive level, level of training, or years’ experience in para-footballers with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: A total of 123 footballers took part in the study, 87 of whom were footballers with CP and 36 who were without impairment. Both groups were assessed in 3 football-specific tests (Stop and Go, Turning and Dribbling, and the Illinois Agility Test). Results: The results showed that the footballers without impairment recorded a better performance in all tests (P < .01) in comparison with the CP players. No significant differences in test performance were observed among the CP players from different competitive levels. However, significant differences (P < .01) were observed between players with diplegia or athetosis/ataxia compared with players with hemiplegia or minimum impairment level. Performance in the tests did not correlate with years of football experience, weekly strength training sessions, or specific football training in the footballers with CP (P = .12–.95). Conclusions: These findings suggest the possible inclusion of these tests in the classification process for footballers with CP because they discriminate among functional classes and are resistant to training and competitive level.

Yanci, Iturricastillo, and Aracama are with the Physical Education and Sport Dept, Faculty of Education and Sport, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Castillo is with the Faculty of Health Sciences, Universidad Isabel I, Burgos, Spain. Roldan and Reina are with the Sports Research Center, Miguel Hernández University, Elche, Spain. Reina is also the Director of Classification of the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football, Arnhem, the Netherlands.

Castillo (daniel.castillo@ui1.es) is corresponding author.
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