Speed of Thought and Speed of Feet: Examining Perceptual-Cognitive Expertise and Physical Performance in an English Football Academy

Kelly, Adam L. and Wilson, Mark R. and Jackson, Daniel T. and Turnnidge, Jennifer and Williams, Craig A. (2020) Speed of Thought and Speed of Feet: Examining Perceptual-Cognitive Expertise and Physical Performance in an English Football Academy. Journal of Science in Sport and Exercise, 3. pp. 88-97. ISSN 2096-6709

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The world’s greatest professional football players are able to execute effective tactical decisions as well as fulfil various physical demands. However, the degree to which both are associated with greater potential in a football academy is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate decision-making skill and physical performance as contributing factors to coach potential rankings in an English football academy. Ninety-eight outfield academy players (Foundation Development Phase [FDP] under-9 to under-11 n = 40; Youth Development Phase [YDP] under-12 to under-16 n = 58) participated in the study. They engaged in 45 film-based simulations at two occlusion phases (e.g., the visual display is cut-off at a precise time during an action), firstly “during” and secondly “post” execution, to examine decision-making skill. Participants also completed four fitness tests to examine physical performance. A classification of “higher-potentials” (top third) and “lower-potentials” (bottom third) were applied through coach rankings. Independent t-tests compared the decision-making and physical performance tests. Higher-potentials made significantly more accurate decisions within the “post” phase within the FDP (P < 0.05) and the “during” phase within the YDP (P < 0.05). Additionally, higher-potentials were significantly faster for the 0–30 m sprint in both the FDP and YDP (P < 0.05), with higher-potentials within the YDP also significantly faster in the 0–10 m sprint (P < 0.05) and jumped significantly higher in the countermovement jump (P < 0.05). These findings indicated that greater football potential may be associated with superior perceptual-cognitive expertise and quicker sprint ability in both academy age phases, with a greater discriminatory function within the older cohort.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42978-020-00081-2
31 August 2020Accepted
15 October 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Decision-making Sprint ability Fitness testing Academy football Talent identification Talent development
Subjects: CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-02 - sport and exercise sciences > CAH03-02-01 - sport and exercise sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Life and Sport Sciences (C-LASS)
Depositing User: Adam Kelly
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2021 15:27
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 11:36
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11477

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