Science and Soccer

By Thomas Reilly; A. Mark Williams | Go to book overview

21

Identifying talented players

Thomas Reilly, A. Mark Williams and Dave Richardson

Introduction

Many thousands of youngsters who participate in soccer aspire to play at an elite level. The dream to become a star player and compete on the international stage may even be the foremost motive for playing from an early age. Motivation is often secured by following a contemporary role model, deemed to be one of the game's best players, whether in the local professional team or in international soccer. The reality is that for the majority of youngsters the dream outshines their capabilities and only a select few will achieve public acclaim and success in the game.

It is self-evident that some individuals have natural gifts, being able to run faster or demonstrate exquisite skills compared to their peers. They seem to acquire ball skills readily and have an apparent natural affinity for field games. Even those acknowledged as exceptionally talented in soccer may fail to realize their true potential as adult players, due to lack of commitment to training, poor tolerance of competitive stress or receding interest in play.

Contemporary professional soccer offers attractive material rewards and popular acclaim for those who are successful. Players can command lucrative salaries when they are good enough to move to the top clubs whilst the clubs who had nurtured young star players benefit financially from their transfer. It is understandable that clubs spend considerable effort in attempting to 'spot' potential stars and draw their first team from the development of their own youngsters. The identification of players with good potential helps to ensure that these young players receive specialized coaching and training to accelerate the process of talent development. Furthermore, the reliable identification of talent allows the club to target its resources on the small number of individuals selected for systematic development, ensuring a more effective investment for the future.

Due to the need for club and country to produce young talented players, sports scientists can play a role in working alongside coaches, scouts and administrators, each of whom must underline key elements of the talent identification and development process. Indeed, as professional clubs throughout Europe have systematized their 'football academies' as the cradle for their young players, they have increasingly utilized sport scientists for help in guiding and evaluating their talent identification and development processes.

In this chapter, the role of sports science in helping to identify soccer talent is considered. Key stages within the talent identification process are highlighted and explained. Some examples of talent identification and development systems are reviewed, including models from other sports. A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach embracing physical (anthropometric), physiological, psychological and sociological research is adopted. The implications of this research for talent identification are addressed prior to completion of an overview for long-term planning.

-307-

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Science and Soccer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction to Science and Soccer 1
  • Part 1 - Biology and Soccer 7
  • 2 - Functional Anatomy 9
  • 3 - Fitness Assessment 21
  • 4 - Physiology of Training 47
  • 5 - Motion Analysis and Physiological Demands 59
  • 6 - Nutrition 73
  • 7 - Different Populations 96
  • Part 2 - Biomechanics and Soccer Medicine 107
  • 8 - Biomechanics Applied to Soccer Skills 109
  • References 118
  • 9 - The Biomechanics of Soccer Surfaces and Equipment 120
  • 10 - Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation 136
  • 11 - Psychology and Injury in Soccer 148
  • 12 - Environmental Stress 165
  • Part 3 - Behavioural Science and Soccer 185
  • 13 - Coaching Science and Soccer 187
  • 14 - Skill Acquisition 198
  • 15 - Stress, Performance and Motivation Theory 214
  • References 227
  • 16 - Soccer Violence 230
  • Part 4 - Match Analysis 243
  • 17 - Notational Analysis 245
  • 18 - The Science of Match Analysis 265
  • 19 - Information Technology 276
  • References 283
  • Part 5 - Growth and Adolescence 285
  • 20 - Growth and Maturity Status of Young Soccer Players 287
  • 21 - Identifying Talented Players 307
  • Index 327
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