The Effects of Maturation on Measures of Asymmetry During Neuromuscular Control Tests in Elite Male Youth Soccer Players

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: Asymmetry is a risk factor for male youth soccer players. There is a paucity of data confirming the presence of asymmetry using practically viable screening tasks in players at different stages of maturation. Methods: A cross-sectional sample (N = 347) of elite male youth soccer players who were either pre-, circa-, or post-peak height velocity (PHV) completed the following assessments: single-leg Y-Balance anterior reach, single-leg hop for distance, single-leg 75% hop and stick, and single-leg countermovement jumps. Results: Single-leg countermovement jumps landing force asymmetry was higher in both circa- and post-PHV groups (P < .001; d = 0.41–0.43). Single-leg 75% hop and stick landing force asymmetries were also highest in circa-PHV players, but between-group comparisons were not statistically significant and effect sizes were small. Single-leg hop for distance and single-leg Y-Balance anterior reach asymmetries reduced with maturation; however, no group differences were significant, with small to trivial effect sizes (d ≤ 0.25). Conclusion: Stage of maturation did not have a profound effect on asymmetry. Between-limb differences in functional performance seem to be established in early childhood; thus, targeted interventions to reduce this injury risk factor should commence in pre-PHV athletes and be maintained throughout childhood and adolescence to ensure asymmetry does not increase.

Read is with the Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Read, Oliver, and Lloyd are with the Youth Physical Development Unit, School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom. Oliver and Lloyd are also with the Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand  (SPRINZ), AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. De Ste Croix is with the School of Sport and Exercise, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, United Kingdom. Myer is with the Division of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, OH; Dept. of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH; The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Boston, MA; and Dept. of Orthopaedics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Lloyd is also with the Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance, Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Address author correspondence to Rhodri S. Lloyd at rlloyd@cardiffmet.ac.uk.
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