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Talent Identification in Youth Soccer: Prognosis of U17 Soccer Performance on the Basis of General Athleticism and Talent Promotion Interventions in Second-Grade Children

  • Hohmann, Andreas
  • Siener, Maximilian
Published Article
Frontiers in Sports and Active Living
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jun 04, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fspor.2021.625645
  • Sports and Active Living
  • Original Research


Several talent identification programs in elementary school have implemented motor diagnostics to introduce children to groups of sports, like game sports, or even to particular sports like soccer. However, as in most other sports, in youth soccer, the predictive value of such early testing is still unclear. This prospective study evaluated the midterm prognostic validity of generic motor performance tests. The sample consisted of male second-grade children, which had received a recommendation to participate in soccer. The talent screening campaign was a basic check comprising two anthropometric parameters, five physical fitness, and three motor competence diagnostics of the German Motor Test 6–18. The test data were collected from the participating elementary school classes of the years 2010 to 2014. The soccer competition performance of those children having completed the age of at least 15 years (n = 502) up to the end of the season 2019/2020 (2020, September 30) was recorded. This group of U17 players was then assigned individually to five different competition levels. The prognostic validity of the physical and physiological tests was determined using ANOVAs, odds ratios, and a regression path analysis. All diagnostic methods exhibited medium-to-high prognostic validity over the 8 year time span from the talent screening to the later soccer competitions in the adolescent age groups. For later success in soccer on the province level, the 6-min run (OR = 4.28), dynamic balance (OR = 4.04), and 20-m sprint (OR = 2.46), as well as the participation in the training center of the German Soccer Federation (OR = 5.67) and the diversity of club sport activities (OR = 3.56), were of particular importance.

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