Purpose: This study aimed (1) to explore the validity and reliability of a new and specific change-of-direction (COD) test that requires dribbling skills to classify international footballers with cerebral palsy (CP) and compare it with another valid and reliable COD test without ball dribbling and (2) to probe whether both tests can discriminate between the new CP football classes (ie, FT1, FT2, and FT3) established worldwide in 2018. Methods: This study involved 180 international para-footballers with CP from 23 national teams at the 3 regional competitions held in 2018. They performed 2 COD tests, the modified agility test (no dribbling skills) and the dribbling speed test (DST). Results: Reliability was excellent for both the modified agility test (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]2,1 = .91, SEM = 5.75%) and the DST (ICC2,1 = .92, SEM = 4.66%). The modified agility test and DST results were highly to very highly correlated to one another for the whole group and considering the sport classes (r = .60–.80; P < .001). A 1-way analysis of variance showed significant differences between sport classes in both tests (P < .001). However, among classes, there were significant differences between FT1 and FT2 and FT3 (P < .01, effect size = large) and low to moderate effect sizes between FT2 and FT3 for either test. Conclusion: The DST appears to be valid and reliable to classify CP football players within the new classification system. Regression analysis revealed that 18.2% of the variance in the new sport classes could be explained by the 2 examined tests.
Iván Peña-González, Alba Roldan, Carlos Toledo, Tomás Urbán, and Raúl Reina
Iván Peña-González, José M. Sarabia, Alba Roldan, Agustín Manresa-Rocamora, and Manuel Moya-Ramón
In regular football, the players’ selection process involves an objective assessment based on their anthropometric and physical performance. However, available literature focused on players’ selection process in cerebral palsy (CP) football is scarce. Purpose: To describe the anthropometrical and physical performance profiles of the International Spanish CP footballers and to compare them with the remaining CP football players from the national competition. Method: A total of 75 CP football players from the Spanish CP Football National Competition (classified into the 3 existing classes: football class [FT] 1 = 38; FT2 = 29; FT3 = 8) participated in the study. Participants were divided into 2 groups: selected players (n = 15) and nonselected players (n = 60) for the national team. Anthropometrical data and physical performance (countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, modified agility T-test [MAT], and dribbling test) were collected. Results: There were significant differences in the 20-m sprint, MAT, and dribbling for the total sample and in MAT and dribbling for FT2 and FT3 classes between selected players and nonselected players (P < .05), but there were no differences for FT1. The MAT and dribbling showed a positive correlation and a high percentage of player selection prediction. Conclusion: Change-of-direction ability (ie, MAT) and dribbling skills are important when performing the selection process, as they allow the evaluation of important aspects of the game, but they may also provide the technical staff with an idea of the functionality and the physical performance of the players in each sport class.
Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Astrid Aracama, Alba Roldan, and Raúl Reina
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.
Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Matías Henríquez, Alba Roldan, and Raúl Reina
This study aimed to analyze whether there are differences and associations in the physical responses in international-level cerebral palsy footballers between official matches and 2v2 small-sided games (2v2-SSG). One hundred seventy international cerebral palsy footballers participated in this study during three international championships. The physical responses of mean and maximum velocities, total distance, distance covered at different intensities, short-term actions, and player load were collected during 2v2-SSG and the real competition. The mean velocity, total distance, jogging, medium- and high-intensity distances, the number of moderate/high accelerations, decelerations, and player load were relatively higher in the 2v2-SSG than in the official matches. Even though the 2v2-SSG could become an appropriate drill to include during the classification process, due to the differences between a 2v2-SSG and the official competition, it is necessary to deepen the scientific knowledge for developing observation methods during real competition to strengthen the relationships between eligible impairments and activity limitation.