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Is visual perception the key to success in youth soccer players?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Publication date2007
Number of pages1
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Period14/06/07 → …


The relative contributions of the perceptual, cognitive, physiological, and soccer-specific skills attributed to elite performance in open-play soccer situations were examined. Participants played regularly in the English League Divisions 1 or 2 before either receiving an employment contract with a professional club at the age of 16 years (elite; N=8) or not (sub-elite; N=8). Perceptual and cognitive skills were assessed via a temporal-occlusion methodology requiring subjects to respond by kicking footballs towards images of team-mates in dynamic game situations projected onto a large screen. Aerobic capacity was measured indirectly in a multi-stage fitness test. Soccer-specific skills (dribbling, passing, shooting) were measured with a standardised point-based system. Reaction times (RT) were significantly faster in the elite group, yet RTs in both groups increased whilst movement times decreased across blocked trials. Kicking accuracy was also higher in the elite group. The groups did not differ significantly in aerobic or skill-based variables. These data suggest visual perception is a discriminative variable for talent identification and selection in football.