Body composition and functional fitness capacity of young academy soccer players in South Africa and Zimbabwe

Masocha, Vincent (2013-12)

Thesis (MScSportSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Talent identification and early selection into a professional soccer academy has been reported to be very important for the long term development of footballing expertise (Le Gall et al., 2010). This awareness of the need for early identification of gifted youngsters has led to an increased number of soccer centres of excellence and academies throughout the world. Traditionally, identification and selection of promising individuals into youth soccer academies has been linked to a coach’s subjectivity and preconceived image of the player. Once this method is used in isolation it can result in tedious misjudgements in talent identification - hence the emphasis on science-based approaches. Through soccer-specific research, a number of anthropometric and physical parameters have been linked to successful performance in soccer. The primary aims of the study were to explore the anthropometric, somatotype and functional fitness characteristics of young academy soccer in South Africa and Zimbabwe and to distinguish variables that can be relevant for Talent Identification. The study followed a quantitative non-intervention design with a sample of convenience. A total of 74 young soccer players (Age 15.9±0.81) from South African (n = 41) and Zimbabwean (n = 33) soccer academies were purposively sampled. The following anthropometric variables were measured following the International Society of the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) protocol: body mass and height; skinfolds – (triceps, subscapular, biceps, iliac crest, supraspinale, abdominal, front thigh, medial calf); Girths – (arm relaxed, arm flexed and tensed, waist, gluteal, and calf); bone breadths – (biepicondylar humerus and biepicondylar femur). Functional fitness variables that were measured include: lower back muscle flexibility (sit and reach test), upper body flexibility (shoulder flexibility), leg power using (vertical and horizontal jumps), overhead throw (2kg medicine ball throw), speed tests (10, 20, and 40m sprint tests), agility (Illinois test) and aerobic fitness (Hoff test). There were no statistically significant differences in age, body mass, height, fat mass, body mass index, lower back flexibility, right shoulder flexibility, 20m sprint, and endurance capacity (p>0.05). Statistically significant differences were found in percentage body fat (p>0.05), sum of 8 skinfolds, fat free mass, somatotype, left shoulder flexibility, upper and lower body power, 10m and 40m sprints (p<0.01). South African players were found to have higher %BF and sum of skinfolds and then Zimbabwean players. It was concluded that Zimbabwean players performed significantly better than South Africans in agility, 10m, 40m sprints, vertical jump, horizontal jump and overhead throw and had better future chances of success in soccer. Goalkeepers were taller and heavier, while midfielders and defenders were found to be lighter and shorter. Goalkeepers were the most agile group, while forwards were the fastest group. Agility, power and speed were the most important variables that can be used during talent selection and coaches should purposefully work to develop these characteristic during training sessions. Height and weight are relevant in allocating positional roles to players and not in Talent Identification.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Talentidentifisering en vroeë seleksie in ʼn professionele sokkerakademie blyk baie belangrik te wees vir die langtermyn ontwikkeling van sokker vaardighede (Le Gall et al., 2010). Hierdie behoefte vir die vroeë identifisering van talentvolle jong spelers het aanleiding gegee tot ʼn toename in sokker sentra van uitnemendheid en akademies wêreldwyd. Tradisioneel is die identifisering en seleksie van belowende individue vir toelating tot ʼn jeug sokker akademie aan ʼn afrigter se subjektiwiteit en voorafopgestelde idees van die speler gekoppel. Wanneer die metode in isolasie gebruik word kan dit dodelike mistastings in talent identifisering teweeg bring – daarom die klem op wetenskaplik gebaseerde benaderings. Deur sokker spesifieke navorsing is daar alreeds ʼn aantal antropometriese en fisieke parameters aan suksesvolle prestasie in sokker gekoppel. Die primêre doelwitte van die studie was om die antropometrie, somatotipe en funksionele fiksheidskenmerke van jong sokker akademie spelers in Suid-Afrika en Zimbabwe te ondersoek en om veranderlikes wat relevant vir talentidentifisering kan wees te onderskei. Die studie het ʼn kwantitatiewe, nie-intervensie ontwerp met ʼn gerieflikheidsteekproef gevolg. ʼn Totaal van 74 jong sokkerspelers van Suid-Afrika (n = 41) en Zimbabwe (n = 33) sokker akademies is doelgerig geselekteer (ouderdom 15.9 ± 0.81 jaar). Die volgende antropometriese veranderlikes is ooreenkomstig met die International Society of the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) protokol gemeet: liggaamsmassa en -lengte; velvoue (triseps, subskapulêr, biseps, iliokristale vou, supraspinalis, abdominale, quadriseps, mediale gastroknemius); omtrekke (arm ontspanne, arm in fleksie en gespanne, middel, gluteale, en kuit); been breedtes (biepikondelêre humerus en biepikondelêre femur). Funksionele fiksheidsveranderlikes wat gemeet is was: laerug spierlenigheid (sit en reik toets), boonste ekstremiteit lenigheid (skouer lenigheid), beenkrag (vertikale en horisontale spronge), oorhoofse gooi (2kg medisyne balgooi), spoedtoets (10, 20, en 40m spoedtoetse), ratsheid (Illinois toets) en aërobiese fiksheid (Hoff toets). Geen statisties betekenisvolle verskille is in ouderdom, liggaamsmassa, -lengte, vetmassa, liggaamsmassa indeks, laerug lenigheid, regterskouer lenigheid, 20 meter spoed en uithouvermoë kapasiteit (p>0.05) tussen SA en Zimbabwe spelers gevind nie. Statisties betekenisvolle verskille is wel in persentasie liggaamsvet (p<0.05), som van agt velvoue, vetvrye massa, somatotipe, linkerskouer lenigheid, boonste en onderste ekstremiteit liggaamskrag, 10m en 40m spoed (p<0.01) gevind. Suid-Afrikaanse spelers het ʼn hoër persentasie liggaamvet en som van velvoue as die Zimbabwiese spelers gehad. Daar is tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat Zimbabwiese spelers betekenisvol beter as Suid-Afrikaanse spelers in die meeste fiksheidstoetse gevaar het en waarskynlik beter kanse vir sukses in sokker het. Doelwagters was groter en swaarder, terwyl middelveld spelers en verdedigers ligter en korter was. Doelwagters was die ratste groep, terwyl voorspelers die vinnigste groep was. Ratsheid, krag en spoed is as die belangrikste veranderlikes geïdentifiseer wat tydens talentidentifisering gebruik kan word en afrigters moet doelbewus daaraan werk om hierdie eienskappe tydens oefensessies te ontwikkel. Lengte en gewig is relevant in die toekenning van posisionele rolle aan spelers en nie in talentidentifisering nie. Hierdie is die eerste studie waarin die antropometriese en funksionele fiksheidsprofiele van jong sokkerspelers in Suid-Afrika en Zimbabwe met mekaar vergelyk word. Dit baan die weg vir ander navorsers om hierop uit te brei deur sokkerspelers van ander lande in Afrika te toets en by te dra tot die kennis van sokkerspelers in Afrika. Hierdie navorsing skep ook die basis vir afrigters en oefenkundiges in Afrika om die bydrae wat die wetenskap maak ten opsigte van liggaamsamestelling en funksionele fiksheid beter te verstaan om talentidentifisering in sokker te verbeter.

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