Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effects of Practicing with a Size-2 Ball on the Technical Skills of Young Soccer Players of a Different Level

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effects of Practicing with a Size-2 Ball on the Technical Skills of Young Soccer Players of a Different Level

Article excerpt

Introduction

Technical ability constitutes one of the performance factors which lead to perfection. In ball sports, technical skills refer to ball handling and its effectiveness. According to Witt & Proffitt (2005), 'when playing well, baseball players frequently say that the ball appears bigger, tennis players report that the ball looks huge, golfers say that the cup looks bigger, and basketball players say that the hoop looks enormous.' So one of the ways in which researchers tried to train and improve athletes in ball sports was through practice with a different ball type (regarding weight and dimensions) from the one that was used in the official game. In basketball, there have been some studies (Isaacs & Karpman 1981; Satern, Messier & Keller-Mcnulty 1989; Chase, M. A. Ewing, M. E., Lirgg, C. D., George, T. R., 1994; Regimbal, C., Deller, J., Plimpton, C. 1992; Ferreira, A.P., Fernandes, 0., Abrantes, J.,1996; Arias, J.L., Argudo, F. M., Alonso, J.I., 2009) aiming at improving shots and accuracy in free shots. In tennis, there have been studies (D.P.S. Andrew, J.W. Chow, D.V. Knudson, M.D. Tillman, 2003; Karl Cooke & Polly R. Davey, 2005) aiming at the development of technical and physiological performance. In football, there have been very few studies in the effect of using a different type of ball on the improvement of technical skills. Initially, Button, Bennett & Davids (1999), examined whether using an FDS ball instead of a size 5 one could assist 11-year-old soccer beginners in developing ball control. Examining the differences in dribbling and juggling skills, they observed that both groups significantly improved their performance in both these skills. However, the experimental group showed a greater improvement in juggling than the control group. Here, we must note that the children were beginners, so more research was necessary to determine whether these beneficial effects on ball control would also be observed on a coordination level. Later, Chapman, Bennet & Davids (2001), working with absolute beginners aged 8 - 11 years old, examined the effects of 3 different ball types (FDS, size 3 & size 4) on the improvement of technical skills. After dividing the players into 3 equivalent groups, he observed that all three of them showed a significant improvement between the pre & post tests. Nevertheless, there were no statistically significant differences between the players who practiced with the FDS ball in comparison with the size 3 and size 4 balls. Finally, according to Araujo, Davids, Bennett, Button & Chapman (2003), an FDS ball is beneficial in improving skills especially at the control stage of learning, but not necessarily at the coordination stage.

However, the aforementioned studies did not examine any other skills apart from juggling and dribbling. Moreover, they did not investigate the effects of training with a size-2 ball on soccer players of a different level. Additionally, they did not modify the intervention program with regard to duration and ball contacts. Finally, there was no different intervention in accordance with the soccer players' technical ability level. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of training with a size-2 ball on improving «passing», «juggling», «running with the ball» & «turns with the ball» in young soccer players of a different level, along with the factors that can differentiate the results of such a training intervention program.

Material and methods.

Participants

The present study comprised 54 soccer players, aged 11±0.6 years old, weight 46.27±2.40kg and height 154.94±3.15cm.

Research planning.

At first, the players' level was determined by means of a technical skills test assessment. Based on their performance on that sole criterion, the teams were divided into 4 groups throughout the training intervention. The Competitive Group (CG), which was characterized as 'level 1', was made up of soccer players whose average performance was the highest in all 4 tested skills. …

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