The older, the wider: on-field tactical behavior of elite-standard youth soccer players in small-sided games

Sigrid Olthof, Wouter Frencken, Koen Lemmink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Young soccer players need excellent tactical skills to reach the top. Tactical behavior emerges through interactions between opposing teams. However, few studies have focused on on-field tactical behavior of teams with talented soccer players. Therefore, this study aimed to determine teams’ tactical behavior during small-sided games in two age categories, Under-17 and Under-19.

Methods
Positional data of thirty-nine elite-standard soccer players were collected during twenty-four small-sided games to calculate longitudinal and lateral inter-team distances, stretch indices and length per width ratios. Corresponding interaction patterns and game-to-game variability were also determined.

Results
Under-19 showed a significantly larger lateral stretch index and a significantly lower length per width ratio compared with Under-17. Furthermore, teams of both age groups showed similar large proportions of in-phase behavior. Variability of tactical performance measures within and between games was similar for Under-17 and Under-19.

Conclusions
Variability within games seems to be functional for attacking teams for creating goal-scoring opportunities. In conclusion, the main difference was that Under-19 adopted a wider pitch dispersion than Under-17, represented by a larger lateral stretch index and smaller length per width ratio. Coach instructions and training exercises should be directed at exploiting pitch width to increase the pursuit of goal-scoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-102
JournalHuman movement science
Volume41
Issue numberJune
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • soccer
  • tactics
  • talent development
  • performance analysis

Cite this

Olthof, Sigrid ; Frencken, Wouter ; Lemmink, Koen. / The older, the wider: on-field tactical behavior of elite-standard youth soccer players in small-sided games. In: Human movement science. 2015 ; Vol. 41, No. June. pp. 92-102.
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The older, the wider: on-field tactical behavior of elite-standard youth soccer players in small-sided games. / Olthof, Sigrid; Frencken, Wouter; Lemmink, Koen.

In: Human movement science, Vol. 41, No. June, 2015, p. 92-102.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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N2 - PurposeYoung soccer players need excellent tactical skills to reach the top. Tactical behavior emerges through interactions between opposing teams. However, few studies have focused on on-field tactical behavior of teams with talented soccer players. Therefore, this study aimed to determine teams’ tactical behavior during small-sided games in two age categories, Under-17 and Under-19.MethodsPositional data of thirty-nine elite-standard soccer players were collected during twenty-four small-sided games to calculate longitudinal and lateral inter-team distances, stretch indices and length per width ratios. Corresponding interaction patterns and game-to-game variability were also determined.ResultsUnder-19 showed a significantly larger lateral stretch index and a significantly lower length per width ratio compared with Under-17. Furthermore, teams of both age groups showed similar large proportions of in-phase behavior. Variability of tactical performance measures within and between games was similar for Under-17 and Under-19.ConclusionsVariability within games seems to be functional for attacking teams for creating goal-scoring opportunities. In conclusion, the main difference was that Under-19 adopted a wider pitch dispersion than Under-17, represented by a larger lateral stretch index and smaller length per width ratio. Coach instructions and training exercises should be directed at exploiting pitch width to increase the pursuit of goal-scoring.

AB - PurposeYoung soccer players need excellent tactical skills to reach the top. Tactical behavior emerges through interactions between opposing teams. However, few studies have focused on on-field tactical behavior of teams with talented soccer players. Therefore, this study aimed to determine teams’ tactical behavior during small-sided games in two age categories, Under-17 and Under-19.MethodsPositional data of thirty-nine elite-standard soccer players were collected during twenty-four small-sided games to calculate longitudinal and lateral inter-team distances, stretch indices and length per width ratios. Corresponding interaction patterns and game-to-game variability were also determined.ResultsUnder-19 showed a significantly larger lateral stretch index and a significantly lower length per width ratio compared with Under-17. Furthermore, teams of both age groups showed similar large proportions of in-phase behavior. Variability of tactical performance measures within and between games was similar for Under-17 and Under-19.ConclusionsVariability within games seems to be functional for attacking teams for creating goal-scoring opportunities. In conclusion, the main difference was that Under-19 adopted a wider pitch dispersion than Under-17, represented by a larger lateral stretch index and smaller length per width ratio. Coach instructions and training exercises should be directed at exploiting pitch width to increase the pursuit of goal-scoring.

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