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Change of direction asymmetry across different age categories in youth soccer

Trecroci, Athos, Rossi, Alessio, Dos’Santos, Thomas, Formenti, Damiano, Cavaggioni, Luca, Longo, Stefano, Iaia, F Marcello and Alberti, Giampietro (2020) Change of direction asymmetry across different age categories in youth soccer. PeerJ, 8. e9486-e9486.

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Background In youth, the development of change of direction (COD) and sprint performance is a key component for successfully competing in soccer across age. During a COD, the presence of directional asymmetries may be detrimental due to the unpredictable nature of the sport. Therefore, the aims of the study were to investigate asymmetries in COD ability and to examine the differences in COD and sprint performance across age in young soccer players. Methods Sixty-eight sub-elite soccer players of different age categories (U18, U17, U16, U15) were tested on a 10-m linear sprint test and 90°COD (5-m entry and exit) test in both directions. Asymmetric index (AI) of COD deficit was obtained for dominant (fastest) and non-dominant directions (slowest). Results The results showed that U16 were more asymmetrical than U18, U17, and U15 from large to moderate effects. The sprint time improved linearly across age with U18 and U15 displaying the fastest and slowest 10-m sprint performance (p < 0.01), respectively. Moreover, COD ability measured by COD deficit did not change across age (p > 0.05). Conclusion Given the results of this study, practitioners are encouraged to assess asymmetries between dominant and non-dominant directions rather than solely players’ COD ability in young soccer players.

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