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Roel Vaeyens, Matthieu Lenoir, A. Mark Williams, Liesbeth Mazyn and Renaat M. Philippaerts

We examined differences in visual search behaviors and decision-making skill across different microstates of offensive play in soccer using youth participants (13.0-15.8 years) varying in skill and experience. We used realistic film simulations of offensive play, movement-based response measures, and an eye movement registration technique. Playing experience, skill level, and the unique constraints of the task, expressed by the number of players and relative proportion of offensive and defensive players, determined both the observed search behavior and processing requirements imposed on players in dynamic offensive team simulations. Significant differences in performance were observed between players and nonplayers and across three groups of soccer players who differed in skill level. Implications for talent identification and development are considered.

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Dieter Deprez, Joao Valente-dos-Santos, Manuel Coelho e Silva, Matthieu Lenoir, Renaat M. Philippaerts and Roel Vaeyens

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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]).

Results:

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).

Conclusion:

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.

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Joric B. Vandendriessche, Barbara Vandorpe, Manuel J. Coelho-e-Silva, Roel Vaeyens, Matthieu Lenoir, Johan Lefevre and Renaat M. Philippaerts

Discussions of growth and motor performance of children are often set in the context of physical fitness. Although there is a clear theoretical concept or definition of fitness comprising motor coordination, the latter is not systematically considered. This study determined to what extent the variance in motor coordination might be explained by morphological and fitness characteristics. To postulate understanding of this association during childhood, 613 boys aged 7–11 years completed the morphological measurements, the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) and different fitness tests. The results demonstrated a substantial interrelationship among morphology, fitness and motor coordination in elementary school boys. The magnitude of explained variance and the loadings of the canonical correlation between the several constructs are strongly pronounced during childhood indicating that these constructs should be well considered given their contribution to a child’s general development.

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Joric B. Vandendriessche, Barbara F.R. Vandorpe, Roel Vaeyens, Robert M. Malina, Johan Lefevre, Matthieu Lenoir and Renaat M. Philippaerts

Socioeconomic status (SES) is often indicated as a factor that influences physical activity and associated health outcomes. This study examined the relationship between SES and sport participation, morphology, fitness and motor coordination in a sample of 1955 Flemish children 6–11 years of age. Gender, age and SES-specific values for morphologic dimensions, amount and type of sport participation and fitness and motor coordination tests were compared. SES was positively and significantly associated with sport participation and sports club membership in both sexes. Although differences were not consistently significant, morphologic dimensions and tests of fitness and motor coordination showed a trend in favor of children from higher SES. The results suggest that public and local authorities should consider providing equal opportunities for children in all social strata and especially those in the lower SES to experience the beneficial effects of sport participation through which they can enhance levels of physical fitness and motor coordination.

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Job Fransen, Stephen Bush, Stephen Woodcock, Andrew Novak, Dieter Deprez, Adam D.G. Baxter-Jones, Roel Vaeyens and Matthieu Lenoir

Purpose: This study aimed to improve the prediction accuracy of age at peak height velocity (APHV) from anthropometric assessment using nonlinear models and a maturity ratio rather than a maturity offset. Methods: The dataset used to develop the original prediction equations was used to test a new prediction model, utilizing the maturity ratio and a polynomial prediction equation. This model was then applied to a sample of male youth academy soccer players (n = 1330) to validate the new model in youth athletes. Results: A new equation was developed to estimate APHV more accurately than the original model (new model: Akaike information criterion: −6062.1, R 2 = 90.82%; original model: Akaike information criterion = 3048.7, R 2 = 88.88%) within a general population of boys, particularly with relatively high/low APHVs. This study has also highlighted the successful application of the new model to estimate APHV using anthropometric variables in youth athletes, thereby supporting the use of this model in sports talent identification and development. Conclusion: This study argues that this newly developed equation should become standard practice for the estimation of maturity from anthropometric variables in boys from both a general and an athletic population.

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Job Fransen, Dieter Deprez, Johan Pion, Isabel B Tallir, Eva D’Hondt, Roel Vaeyens, Matthieu Lenoir and Renaat M. Philippaerts

The goal of this study was to investigate differences in physical fitness and sports participation over 2 years in children with relatively high, average, and low motor competence. Physical fitness and gross motor coordination of 501 children between 6–10 years were measured at baseline and baseline+2 years. The sample compromised 2 age cohorts: 6.00–7.99 and 8.00–9.99 years. An age and sex-specific motor quotient at baseline testing was used to subdivide these children into low (MQ < P33), average (P33 ≤ MQ < P66) and high (MQ ≥ P66) motor competence groups. Measures of sports participation were obtained through a physical activity questionnaire in 278 of the same children. Repeated Measures MANCOVA and two separate ANOVAs were used to analyze differences in changes in physical fitness and measures of sports participation respectively. Children with high motor competence scored better on physical fitness tests and participated in sports more often. Since physical fitness levels between groups changed similarly over time, low motor competent children might be at risk for being less physically fit throughout their life. Furthermore, since low motor competent children participate less in sports, they have fewer opportunities of developing motor abilities and physical fitness and this may further prevent them from catching up with their peers with an average or high motor competence.