Dr Job Fransen is a senior lecturer in motor control and skill acquisition in the Faculty of Health at UTS.
Job is particularly interested in how expertise in human movement emerges as a result of individual and environmental factors. His work has investigated the importance of talent identification and development programs in youth sport with a particular emphasis on the measurement and development of perceptual-cognitive skills. Job has worked with high level athletes in national and international soccer, Australian Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, mountain Biking, volleyball, school sports, NRL referees, esports, combat sports etc. Within these programs, Job also focuses on some of the factors that confound the development of expertise in sport such as gross motor coordination, sport participation history, growth and maturation and relative age, and has investigated the use of popular perceptual-cognitive training methods aimed at accelerating the development of perceptual-cognitive expertise such as visual restriction training. As a practitioner, Job has experience coaching in a wide range of disciplines, including soccer, rugby union, rugby sevens, field hockey, and since 2017 as the skill acquisition specialist for the Sydney Swans Football Club, where he emphasises the role played by self-discovery and implicit learning in the process of skill acquisition.
- Executive member of the Australasian Skill Acquisition Network
- Member of the Human Performance Research Centre
Can supervise: YES
- Talent identification youth team sport
- Talent development
- Growth and maturation
- Perceptual-cognitive expertise
- Childhood and Adolescent motor skill competence
- Skill Acquisition
- Motor Control
- Motor Learning
- Motor Development
- Research Methods
Beavan, A, Spielmann, J, Mayer, J, Skorski, S, Meyer, T & Fransen, J 2020, 'The rise and fall of executive functions in high-level football players', Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 49.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Introduction: Executive functions are higher-level cognitive functions. Despite being relevant to many aspects of everyday life, it is contentious whether executive functions are important for high performing athletes. Executive functions increase throughout the career of an athlete, yet it remains unknown what are the main contributors. Therefore, this study examined the effect of age and experience on executive functions in a cohort of high performing football players. Methods: Data were collected over three seasons, resulting in a mixed longitudinal sample of 1018 observations in 343 male players (1–5 observations/player, age: 10.34–34.72 years; playing experience: 5–22 years) from the U12-Senior age groups of a professional German football club. Players participated in four cognitive tasks aimed at measuring higher-level cognitive functioning: a precued choice reaction-time task, a stop-signal reaction-time task, a sustained attention task, and a multiple-object tracking task, from which a total of eight dependent variables related to response time and/or accuracy were derived. Results: Linear and non-linear mixed effects regressions were used to investigate the relationship between age, experience and executive functions. A second order polynomial revealed that, generally, a negatively accelerated curve best described the relationship between age, experience and executive functions. An increasingly smaller difference in executive functioning was generally observed between subsequent age groups, with a performance plateau evident around adulthood (~21 years old). Age and experience only explained a very low to moderate proportion of the variance in executive functions (marginal explained variance ranged between 2 and 57%). A significant age by field position interaction effect was only observed for the sustained attention task's accuracy and response time components (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Both age and experience showed a negatively acce...
Henrique, RS, Stodden, DF, Fransen, J, Feitoza, AHP, Ré, AHN, Martins, CML, Dos Prazeres, TMP & Cattuzzo, MT 2020, 'Is motor competence associated with the risk of central obesity in preschoolers?', American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, pp. e23364-e23364.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVES:To investigate the association between motor competence (MC) and central obesity in preschool children. METHODS:The sample comprised of 472 children aged 3 to 5 years (4.58 ± 0.70 years, 248 boys) from Recife, Brazil. MC was assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) was calculated and a cutoff of 0.5 was used to define central obesity. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between MC and WHtR ≥ 0.5. RESULTS:The prevalence of central obesity (WHtR) was 54.0% and 46.4% for boys and girls, respectively. Older children (OR = 0.61; CI = 0.44-0.84; P < .01) and those with higher MC in locomotor skills (OR = 0.96; CI = 0.93-0.99; P < .01) were less likely to present WHtR ≥ 0.5. Sex and object control skills were not associated with WHtR ≥ 0.5. CONCLUSIONS:To reduce the risks of central obesity in children, health practitioners should focus on increasing competence in locomotor skills since preschool years.
O’Brien-Smith, J, Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J & Smith, MR 2020, 'Same or different? A comparison of anthropometry, physical fitness and perceptual motor characteristics in male and female youth soccer players', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 37-44.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Objectives: Little is known about the key performance characteristics of female players throughout adolescence, and how they compares to male players. The aim of this study was to compare performance assessments for male and female youth soccer players aged 9-18 years. Methods: Anthropometry, physical fitness, motor competence, dribbling performance and decision-making were assessed in 77 female and 182 male athletes from three developmental stages (sampling stage: 9-11y; specialisation stage: 12-14y; and investment stage: 15-18y). Results: MANOVA revealed significant interaction effects for age and sex on anthropometry, motor competence & physical fitness (p<0.001, η2p=0.131-0.216), while only main effects of sex and age were revealed for decision-making and dribbling (p<0.001, η2p=0.053-0.250). Females had better mean scores for most variables in the sampling stage, whereas males in the investment stage outperformed the females. Greater performance scores for decision-making and dribbling were evident for males at all ages. These results reveal that male and female soccer players’ generic performance-related characteristics differ very little at a young age, whereas performance in soccer-specific assessments do. Conclusions: Hence, this study argues that in order to maximise the size of talent pools in soccer and increase skill development, young male and female players could train and play together until the end of the sampling stage (~12y).
Sheehan, WB, Tribolet, R, Spurrs, R, Fransen, J, Novak, AR & Watsford, ML 2020, 'Simplifying the complexity of assessing physical performance in professional Australian football', Science and Medicine in Football.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: To provide a simplified, novel method for analysing the physical demands in an Australian Football context by reducing the dimensionality of commonly reported physical characteristics obtained from match play. This may facilitate their practical use and interpretability. Methods: A retrospective longitudinal design was utilised with individual players' physical outputs, measured via global navigation satellite system devices, collected during official Australian Football League matches over three seasons. A principal component analysis was used to reduce a large number of correlated physical characteristics related to the analysis of physical match demands into a smaller set of uncorrelated components. Results: Forty-six variables were reduced to five principal components whilst maintaining 56% of the variance in the original dataset. The principal component analysis derived five individual-based principal components pertaining to low-moderate movement volume, high speed running volume, accelerations, change of direction and impacts. Conclusions: Utilising factor loadings (eigenvectors) derived from a principal component analysis, this study is the first to provide a simplified, novel method for analysing the physical demands in an Australian Football context with the derived metrics revealing useful information for coaches and practitioners. This may consequently guide training implementation, player performance ratings and player selection. Further, these new values may facilitate the monitoring of physical player loads.
Sheehan, WB, Tribolet, R, Watsford, ML, Novak, AR, Rennie, M & Fransen, J 2020, 'Improving the interpretation of skill indicators in professional Australian Football', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2020 Sports Medicine Australia Objectives: This study aimed to provide a simplified, novel method for analysing technical skill involvements in an Australian Football context by reducing the dimensionality of commonly reported skill counts obtained from Australian Football League (AFL) games. This may facilitate their practical use and interpretability. Design: Retrospective longitudinal design where individual players' technical skill counts were collected over three seasons of official AFL games. Methods: Seventy-three skill count values provided publicly by ChampionData® were collected for each match over a three-year analysis period. A principal component analysis was used to reduce the dimensionality of a large number of correlated technical skill indicators into a smaller set of uncorrelated components whilst maintaining most of the variance from the original data set. Results: The principal component analysis derived four principal components pertaining to high-pressure success, low-pressure success, attacking ball movement ability and scoring ability. Conclusions: This study is the first to provide a simplified, novel method for analysing technical skill counts in Australian Football. The derived metrics reveal useful information for coaches and practitioners. This may consequently ease the interpretation of skill count data available to coaches from games, guide opposition analysis, help in the design of representative practice and inform player performance ratings.
Sheehan, WB, Tribolet, R, Watsford, ML, Novak, AR, Rennie, MJ & Fransen, J 2020, 'Using cooperative networks to analyse behaviour in professional Australian Football.', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVES:Reducing the dimensionality of commonly reported complex network characteristics obtained from Australian Football League (AFL) games to facilitate their practical use and interpretability. DESIGN:Retrospective longitudinal design where individual players' interactions, determined through the distribution and receipt of kicks and handballs, during official AFL games were collected over three seasons. METHODS:A principal component analysis was used to reduce the number of characteristics related to the cooperative network analysis. RESULTS:The principal component analysis derived two individual-based principal components pertaining to in- and out-degree importance and three team-based principal components related to connectedness and in- and out-degree centralisation. CONCLUSIONS:This study is the first to provide a simplified, novel method for analysing complex network structures in an Australian Football context with both the team- and individual-derived metrics revealing useful information for coaches and practitioners. This may consequently guide opposition analysis, training implementation, player performance ratings and player selection.
Bennett, KJM, Novak, AR, Pluss, MA, Coutts, AJ & Fransen, J 2020, 'A multifactorial comparison of Australian youth soccer players' performance characteristics', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE & COACHING, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 17-25.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Beavan, A, Fransen, J, Spielmann, J, Mayer, J, Skorski, S & Meyer, T 2019, 'The Footbonaut as a new football-specific skills test: reproducibility and age-related differences in highly trained youth players', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 177-182.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: In sport, assessments are routinely administered to give an indication of performance. Assessing a skill requires external factors to dictate how and when the action is performed, highlighting the need for skill assessments to closely replicate the perception-action couplings experienced in football game play. Therefore, this study investigated if the Footbonaut is a valid and reliable football-specific skill assessment tool. Methods: Footbonaut performance scores from 152 male players from U12 to U23 representing a professional German Bundesliga club during the 2016/2017 season were analysed. Results: Pearson correlations (r) and coefficient of variation (CV) for the correct number of passes in a target (CV = 7.5–11.1; r = 0.48; p < 0.001), the speed at which they completed each trial (CV = 2.6–5.1; r = 0.70; p < 0.001), and a computer-generated point score (CV = 7.4–12.3; r = 0.77; p < 0.001) demonstrated acceptable test–retest reliability. Moreover, a MANOVA revealed a strong multivariate effect of age group on speed and accuracy combined (F = 7.80, p < 0.001, ES = 0.28), demonstrating the Footbonaut’s construct validity. Conclusion: The results in this study demonstrated that the Footbonaut is a valid and reliable assessment of football-specific skill.
Bennett, KJM, Vaeyens, R & Fransen, J 2019, 'Creating a framework for talent identification and development in emerging football nations', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 36-42.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Talent identification and development in football is a complex, multifaceted process. Currently, most of the research in this domain is conducted in highly ranked, established football nations where the sport is immensely popular (e.g. Germany, Portugal, Belgium, etc.). Whilst these nation’s data are informative to some degree, there is little conclusive evidence supporting the effectiveness of traditional talent identification approaches. Typically, talent identification involves actively selecting promising players with early performance superiorities without considering the changes that can occur during development. Consequently, it is difficult to develop a framework for emerging football nations as the repercussions of adopting traditional approaches to talent identification are likely greater due to differences the size of the talent pool, accessibility of systematic training environments, and availability of financial and logistical resources. It is proposed that emerging football nations should focus on: preventing active deselection and dropout to maximise the size of the talent pool, mitigating the influence of confounding factors on talent identification, and longitudinally tracking players throughout development to document the performance profiles that lead to football expertise. Collectively, these strategies can reduce the reliance on identifying players based on early performance superiorities and focus on holistic, long-term development.
Bennett, N, Woodcock, S, Pluss, MA, Bennett, KJM, Deprez, D, Vaeyens, R, Lenoir, M & Fransen, J 2019, 'Forecasting the development of explosive leg power in youth soccer players', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 131-137.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Monitoring athletic development in youth soccer can help sporting professionals monitor athletic development and evaluate the effectiveness of training interventions. However, long-term follow up in talent development programmes in youth soccer is complicated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to forecast the developmental trajectories of explosive leg power in youth soccer players. Methods: Mixed effects regression models were used to forecast explosive leg power (countermovement (CMJ) and standing broad jump (SBJ)) in a longitudinal sample of 2201 youth soccer players from two high level Belgian acedemies and the Belgian National teams. Players were aged between 6 and 20 years (mean age = 13.04 ± 3.18 y) and were subdivided into three age cohorts (6–10, 11–15, and 16–20 y) for CMJ and two age cohorts (6–16, and 17–20 y) for SBJ. Results: This study was able to accurately forecast explosive leg power using different regression equations in each age cohort. Conclusions: Researchers, coaches, and sporting professionals can use these methods to either predict future explosive leg power from current performance measures, monitor the development of explosive leg power, or assess the effectiveness of training interactions aimed at altering predicted developmental trajectories.
O'Brien-Smith, J, Tribolet, R, Smith, MR, Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J, Pion, J & Lenoir, M 2019, 'The use of the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder in the talent pathway in youth athletes: A systematic review.', Journal of science and medicine in sport, vol. 22, no. 9, pp. 1021-1029.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVES:Identifying talented athletes from an early age to accelerate their development requires the investment of substantial resources. Due to the need for multifactorial approaches to talent identification, motor competence assessments are increasingly prevalent in contemporary testing batteries. Therefore, the aim of this review was to evaluate the literature on the use of a product-oriented motor competence assessment tool, the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) in the talent pathway and determine whether it is warranted in such programs. METHODS:Three electronic databases (i.e. PubMed, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science) were searched for studies that used at least one component of the KTK to assess motor competence for talent detection, identification, development and selection in athletic populations. A total of 21 articles were included in the review, of which seven used the full version of the KTK and 14 used modified versions or individual components of the battery. The quality of included studies was assessed using a modified version of the Joanna Brigg's Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist. RESULTS:The analysed literature suggests that the KTK can successfully distinguish between athletes of different competition levels and across different sporting domains, however, findings should be interpreted with caution due to the cross-sectional nature of the studies. Furthermore, the moving sideways subtest displayed the greatest discriminative power for athletes of different competition levels. Motor competence was not affected by maturation and did not differ between genders or playing positions. CONCLUSIONS:Collectively, these findings suggest that the KTK is a useful motor competence assessment in the talent pathway.
Barela, JA, Rocha, AA, Novak, AR, Fransen, J & Figueiredo, GA 2019, 'Age differences in the use of implicit visual cues in a response time task', Brazilian Journal of Motor Behavior, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 86-93.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Background: Many activities require a complex interrelationship between a performer and stimuli available in the environment without explicit perception, but many aspects regarding developmental changes in the use of implicit cues remain unknown. Aim: To investigate the use of implicit visual precueing presented at different time intervals in children, adolescents, and adults. Method: Seventy-two people, male and female, constituted four age groups: 8-, 10- and 12-year-olds and adults. Participants performed 32 trials, four-choice-time task across four conditions: no precue and a 43 ms centralized dot appearing in the stimulus circle at 43, 86 or 129 ms prior the stimulus. Response times were obtained for each trial and pooled into each condition. Results: Response times for 8-year-olds were longer than for 12-year-olds and adults and for 10-year-olds were longer than for adults. Response times were longer in the no precue condition compared to when precues were presented at 86 and 129 ms before the stimulus. Response times were longer when precue was presented at 43 ms compared presented at 129 ms before the stimulus. Interpretation: Implicit precues reduce response time in children, adolescents and adults, but young children benefit less from implicit precues than adolescents and adults.
Novak, AR, Bennett, KJM, Pluss, MA, Fransen, J, Watsford, ML & Dascombe, BJ 2019, 'Power profiles of competitive and non-competitive mountain bikers.', Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 538-543.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The performance of Olympic distance cross-country mountain bikers (XCO-MTB) is affected by constraints such as erosion of track surfaces and mass start congestion which can affect race results. Standardised laboratory assessments quantify inter-seasonal and intra-seasonal cycling potential through the assessment of multiple physiological capacities. Therefore, this study examined whether the power profile assessment could discriminate between competitive XCO-MTB and non-competitive mountain bikers (NC-MTB). Secondly, it aimed to report normative power profile data for competitive XCO-MTB cyclists. Twenty-nine male participants were recruited across groups of XCO-MTB (n=14) and NC-MTB (n=15) mountain bikers. Each cyclist completed a power profile assessment that consisted of increasing duration maximal efforts (6, 15, 30, 60, 240 and 600 s) that were interspersed by longer rest periods (174, 225, 330, 480 and 600 s) between efforts. Normative power outputs were established for XCO-MTB cyclists ranging between 13.8 ± 1.5 W·kg (5 s effort) to 4.1 ± 0.6 W·kg (600 s effort). No differences in absolute peak power or cadence were identified between groups across any effort length (p>0.05). However, the XCO-MTB cyclists produced greater mean power outputs relative to body mass than the NC-MTB during the 60 s (6.9 ± 0.8 vs 6.4 ± 0.6 W·kg; p=0.002), 240 s (4.7 ± 0.7 vs 3.8 ± 0.4 W·kg; p<0.001) and 600 s (4.1 ± 0.6 vs 3.4 ± 0.3 W·kg; p<0.001) efforts. The power profile assessment is a useful discriminative assessment tool for XCO-MTB and highlights the importance of aerobic power for XCO-MTB performance.
Lovell, R, Fransen, J, Ryan, R, Massard, T, Cross, R, Eggers, T & Duffield, R 2019, 'Biological maturation and match running performance: A national football (soccer) federation perspective', JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE IN SPORT, vol. 22, no. 10, pp. 1139-1145.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Bennett, KJM, Novak, AR, Pluss, MA, Coutts, AJ & Fransen, J 2019, 'Assessing the validity of a video-based decision-making assessment for talent identification in youth soccer.', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 22, pp. 729-734.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVES:To investigate the construct and discriminant validity of a video-based decision-making assessment for talent identification in youth soccer. DESIGN:Observational study. METHOD:A total of 328 academy youth soccer players (tier one, tier two, and tier three) from three developmental stages (late childhood, early adolescence, and mid-adolescence) participated in this study. The control group consisted of 59 youth athletes with no soccer experience in the last five years. Players completed a video-based decision-making assessment on an iPad, with response accuracy and response time recorded for various attacking situations (2 vs. 1, 3 vs. 1, 3 vs. 2, 4 vs. 3, and 5 vs. 3). RESULTS:The video-based decision-making assessment showed some construct validity. Response times were significantly faster in early and mid-adolescent players when compared to those in the late childhood group. Furthermore, an overall decline in decision-making performance (i.e. decrease in response accuracy and increase in response time) was observed from the 2 vs. 1 to the 4 vs. 3 situations. The video-based decision-making assessment lacked discriminant validity as minimal differences between academies were evident for response accuracy and response time. Only response accuracy was able to discriminate youth academy soccer players from the control group to some extent. CONCLUSIONS:Coaches and sporting professionals should apply caution when interpreting data from practical, video-based decision-making assessments. There is currently limited conclusive evidence supporting the effectiveness of these assessments for talent identification.
Henderson, MJ, Fransen, J, McGrath, JJ, Harries, SK, Poulos, N & Coutts, AJ 2019, 'Individual Factors Affecting Rugby Sevens Match Performance.', International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 620-626.View/Download from: Publisher's site
PURPOSE:To examine the collective independent influence of a range of individual characteristics on physical and technical match performance during international rugby sevens matches. METHODS:Data were collected from 20 international rugby sevens players from 1 team across 1 season. Activity profiles were measured using wearable microtechnology devices, and technical performance measures were collected from match video analysis. Subjective well-being measures were collected using a well-being questionnaire completed on the morning of main training days, and groin-squeeze assessments at 0° and 60° knee flexion were also conducted using a sphygmomanometer. Assessments of aerobic fitness were completed periodically across the season, including time to complete a 2-km run and final velocity during the 30:15 Intermittent Fitness Test (VIFT). A principal-components analysis was conducted to reduce the dimensionality of the physical and technical variables into single-factor values. Linear mixed models were then constructed to examine the collective influence of a range of individual contextual variables on physical and technical performance factors. RESULTS:Increased muscle soreness, stress, and VIFT were associated with trivial to small increases in physical and technical performance values, whereas trivial to small decreases were associated with higher perceived recovery, body weight, and groin squeeze (0° knee flexion). CONCLUSIONS:A range of well-being metrics are required to account for a significant portion of the variance in physical and technical performance. These factors may be manipulated by coaches or practitioners to achieve favorable physiological readiness that may lead to improved match performance.
Henderson, MJ, Fransen, J, McGrath, JJ, Harries, SK, Poulos, N & Coutts, AJ 2019, 'Situational factors affecting rugby sevens match performance', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 275-280.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: To examine the independent influence of a range of situational factors on physical and technical match performance during international rugby sevens matches. Methods: Data was collected from 20 professional rugby sevens players from one team across one competitive season. Activity profiles were measured using wearable microtechnology devices, and technical performance measures were collected using match video analysis. A principal components analysis was conducted to reduce the dimensionality of the physical and technical match performance variables into single index values incorporating each variable's distinct information. Linear mixed models were then constructed to examine the collective influence of external contextual factors on physical and technical index scores. Results: Increased points conceded, a winning match outcome, and more favourable weather all had positive impacts on the Physical Performance Factor, with all other situational factors examined not contributing to a significantly better model fit. Technical Performance Factor values were shown to increase with longer match involvement durations and decrease when playing against higher ranked opponents. Conclusions: These findings show that winning the match, conceding more points, and more favourable weather conditions are associated with increased physical performance; whilst technical performance improved with longer playing durations and playing lower ranked opponents.
Laffer, JC, Coutts, AJ & Fransen, J 2019, 'Effect of skill level on allocation of visual attention in volleyball blocking', Journal of Motor Learning and Development, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 215-231.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019 Human Kinetics, Inc. Dynamic motor skills such as volleyball blocking rely on efficient perception-action coupling and are influenced by individual, environmental, and task constraints. However, limited research studies have assessed the effect of an individual constraint such as blocking skill on visual attention during an in-situ volleyball blocking task. Therefore, this study used a cross-sectional, observational design to investigate the gaze behavior of 18 male volleyball players (25.6 ± 4.9 years), of two different levels of blocking skill determined a priori according to success during an on-court blocking task. When compared to relatively unsuccessful players (RUS), the gaze of relatively successful players (RS) was observed to fixate more often (RUS: 0.7 ± 0.7 n, RS: 1.3 ± 0.3 n) and dwell for longer (Total; RUS: 12.2 ± 18.4%, RS: 48.0 ± 37.2%, Phase 4; RUS: 6.6 ± 8.8%, RS: 16.9 ± 12.4%) on the opposition spiker, demonstrating that important perceptual information about an opposing team's attack lies within the behavior of the opposition spiker. More successful blockers were also observed to be taller (RUS: 181.8 ± 6.6 cm, RS: 192.6 ± 3.9 cm), longer in arm-span (RUS: 185.7 ± 5.6 cm, RS: 195.2 ± 5.6 cm), and heavier (RUS: 78.6 ± 11.4 kg, RS: 90.5 ± 8.5 kg). These results can consequently be used to develop a profile of the visual attention and physical attributes of successful blockers for use in developing talented players.
Lovell, TWJ, Fransen, J, Bocking, CJ & Coutts, AJ 2019, 'Factors affecting sports involvement in a school-based youth cohort: Implications for long-term athletic development.', Journal of sports sciences, vol. 37, no. 22, pp. 2522-2529.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The aim of the present study was to determine the factors affecting sports involvement in a school-based adolescent population. The cross-sectional cohort study assessed anthropometry, physical capacities and motor competence in 501 boys (aged 10-16 y), from junior (10-12 y) and senior (13-16 y) cohorts. Sports participation data was collected from junior participants. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed moderate maturity, anthropometry, physical capacity and motor competence differences between sports in the senior cohort (F = 2.616, p < 0.001, η2 = .08), but not in the junior cohort. Furthermore, differences in physical fitness were revealed between playing levels (F = 2.616, p < 0.001, η2 = .08), with a discriminant analysis correctly classifying 73% of participants using aerobic fitness and vertical jump measures. Representative level participants engaged in more structured training and commenced organised competition at a later age (F = 4.332, p < 0.001, η2 = .21). This study's findings are twofold: 1) physical and motor competence profiles differ more between sports with increasing age, and 2) participants at a higher level of competition report delayed engagement in their main sport. As a result, schools may be the ideal environment in which to provide children and adolescents with the opportunity to sample different sports.
For many decades, researchers have explored the true potential of human achievement. The expertise field has come a long way since the early works of de Groot (1965) and Chase and Simon (1973). Since then, this inquiry has expanded into the areas of music, science, technology, sport, academia, and art. Despite the vast amount of research to date, the capability of study methodologies to truly capture the nature of expertise remains questionable. Some considerations include (i) the individual bias in the retrospective recall of developmental activities, (ii) the ability to develop ecologically valid tasks, and (iii) difficulties capturing the influence of confounding factors on expertise. This article proposes that expertise research in electronic sports (esports) presents an opportunity to overcome some of these considerations. Esports involves individuals or teams of players that compete in video game competitions via human-computer interaction. Advantages of applying the expert performance approach in esports include (i) developmental activities are objectively tracked and automatically logged online, (ii) the constraints of representative tasks correspond with the real-world environment of esports performance, and (iii) expertise has emerged without the influence of guided systematic training environments. Therefore, this article argues that esports research provides an ideal opportunity to further advance research on the development and assessment of human expertise.
Thompson, CJ, Fransen, J, Skorski, S, Smith, MR, Meyer, T, Barrett, S & Coutts, AJ 2019, 'Mental Fatigue in Football: Is it Time to Shift the Goalposts? An Evaluation of the Current Methodology.', Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 177-183.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Research in football for a long time has focused on the physical nature of fatigue as opposed to its mental aspects. However, since 2016, six original articles have investigated the effects of induced mental fatigue in football on isolated physical, skill and decision-making performance tests, along with physical, technical and tactical performance outcomes in small-sided games. Whilst these studies have overall shown a negative impact of mental fatigue on task performance, this current opinion aims to critically examine the methodological approach to this problem, most notably the lack of ecological validity when inducing mental fatigue and the present approach to measuring mental fatigue using visual analogue scales (VAS). It is suggested that future research on mental fatigue in football may benefit from the use of surveys/interviews to understand the true cognitive demands of elite football players. Additionally, future research should aim to reduce the reliance on using VAS to measure mental fatigue as results from this tool may be confounded by several response biases. In conclusion, this article highlights the need for mentally fatiguing tasks that adequately represent football-associated mental fatigue and assessments of mental fatigue that minimise the confounding effect of response bias.
Tribolet, R, Watsford, ML, Coutts, AJ, Smith, C & Fransen, J 2019, 'From entry to elite: The relative age effect in the Australian football talent pathway.', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 741-745.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVES:This study aimed to assess the first instance and prevalence of the Relative Age Effect (RAE) in the male Australian Football (AF) talent development pathway through to the Australian Football League (AFL). DESIGN:Retrospective cross-sectional analysis. METHODS:Birthdate distribution was accessed from an U10-U12 AF academy trial (n=514), U13-U19 AF academy players (n=408), AFL state, national and international combines (n=2989), AFL Rising Star nominees (n=50) and the top ten AFL Brownlow vote recipients (n=50) between 2013-2017. RESULTS:Chi-squared analysis showed significant overrepresentation to early born players in the selection year for both quartile and half-year compared to the previously known distribution at different stages of the talent pathway. Odds ratio demonstrated bias to players born in quartiles one and two of the selection year compared to players born in quartile four in every cohort examined. CONCLUSIONS:RAEs appear between ages 10-12 in the male AF development pathway and continue to senior professional competition. RAEs are amplified as the competition for positions increases and at points where selection cut-offs occur. Interestingly, players receiving votes for the AFL's best and fairest award were 12.6 times more likely to be born in the first half of the year. This may suggest a latent effect, which has long term benefits for relatively older players. Nonetheless, the RAE affects career progression in a male AF talent pathway.
Fransen, J, Baxter-Jones, A & Woodcock, S 2018, 'Responding to the Commentary on the Article: “Improving the Prediction of Maturity From Anthropometric Variables Using a Maturity Ratio”', Pediatric Exercise Science, pp. 1-3.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Woods, CT, Veale, J, Fransen, J, Robertson, S & Collier, NF 2018, 'Classification of playing position in elite junior Australian football using technical skill indicators.', Journal of Sports Sciences, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 97-103.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In team sport, classifying playing position based on a players' expressed skill sets can provide a guide to talent identification by enabling the recognition of performance attributes relative to playing position. Here, elite junior Australian football players were a priori classified into 1 of 4 common playing positions; forward, midfield, defence, and ruck. Three analysis approaches were used to assess the extent to which 12 in-game skill performance indicators could classify playing position. These were a linear discriminant analysis (LDA), random forest, and a PART decision list. The LDA produced classification accuracy of 56.8%, with class errors ranging from 19.6% (midfielders) to 75.0% (ruck). The random forest model performed at a slightly worse level (51.62%), with class errors ranging from 27.8% (midfielders) to 100% (ruck). The decision list revealed 6 rules capable of classifying playing position at accuracy of 70.1%, with class errors ranging from 14.4% (midfielders) to 100% (ruck). Although the PART decision list produced the greatest relative classification accuracy, the technical skill indicators reported were generally unable to accurately classify players according to their position using the 3 analysis approaches. This player homogeneity may complicate recruitment by constraining talent recruiter's ability to objectively recognise distinctive positional attributes.
Fransen, J, Bush, S, Woodcock, S, Novak, A, Deprez, D, Baxter-Jones, ADG, Vaeyens, R & Lenoir, M 2018, 'Improving the Prediction of Maturity From Anthropometric Variables Using a Maturity Ratio', Pediatric Exercise Science, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 296-307.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Purpose: This study aimed to improve the prediction accuracy of age at peak height velocity (APHV) from anthropometric assessment using nonlinear models and a maturity ratio rather than a maturity offset. Methods: The dataset used to develop the original prediction equations was used to test a new prediction model, utilizing the maturity ratio and a polynomial prediction equation. This model was then applied to a sample of male youth academy soccer players (n = 1330) to validate the new model in youth athletes. Results: A new equation was developed to estimate APHV more accurately than the original model (new model: Akaike information criterion: −6062.1, R2 = 90.82%; original model: Akaike information criterion = 3048.7, R2 = 88.88%) within a general population of boys, particularly with relatively high/low APHVs. This study has also highlighted the successful application of the new model to estimate APHV using anthropometric variables in youth athletes, thereby supporting the use of this model in sports talent identification and development. Conclusion: This study argues that this newly developed equation should become standard practice for the estimation of maturity from anthropometric variables in boys from both a general and an athletic population.
Novak, AR, Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J & Dascombe, BJ 2018, 'A multidimensional approach to performance prediction in Olympic distance cross-country mountain bikers.', Journal of Sports Sciences, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 71-78.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study adopted a multidimensional approach to performance prediction within Olympic distance cross-country mountain biking (XCO-MTB). Twelve competitive XCO-MTB cyclists (VO2max 60.8 ± 6.7 ml · kg(-1)( )· min(-1)) completed an incremental cycling test, maximal hand grip strength test, cycling power profile (maximal efforts lasting 6-600 s), decision-making test and an individual XCO-MTB time-trial (34.25 km). A hierarchical approach using multiple linear regression analyses was used to develop predictive models of performance across 10 circuit subsections and the total time-trial. The strongest model to predict overall time-trial performance achieved prediction accuracy of 127.1 s across 6246.8 ± 452.0 s (adjusted R(2) = 0.92; P < 0.01). This model included VO2max relative to total cycling mass, maximal mean power across 5 and 30 s, peak left hand grip strength, and response time for correct decisions in the decision-making task. A range of factors contributed to the models for each individual subsection of the circuit with varying predictive strength (adjusted R(2): 0.62-0.97; P < 0.05). The high prediction accuracy for the total time-trial supports that a multidimensional approach should be taken to develop XCO-MTB performance. Additionally, individual models for circuit subsections may help guide training practices relative to the specific trail characteristics of various XCO-MTB circuits.
Novak, AR, Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J & Dascombe, BJ 2018, 'Predictors of performance in a 4-h mountain-bike race.', Journal of Sports Sciences, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 462-468.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study aimed to cross validate previously developed predictive models of mountain biking performance in a new cohort of mountain bikers during a 4-h event (XC4H). Eight amateur XC4H cyclists completed a multidimensional assessment battery including a power profile assessment that consisted of maximal efforts between 6 and 600 s, maximal hand grip strength assessments, a video-based decision-making test as well as a XC4H race. A multiple linear regression model was found to predict XC4H performance with good accuracy (R(2) = 0.99; P < 0.01). This model consisted of [Formula: see text] relative to total cycling mass (body mass including competition clothing and bicycle mass), maximum power output sustained over 60 s relative to total cycling mass, peak left hand grip strength and two-line decision-making score. Previous models for Olympic distance MTB performance demonstrated merit (R(2) = 0.93; P > 0.05) although subtle changes improved the fit, significance and normal distribution of residuals within the model (R(2) = 0.99; P < 0.01), highlighting differences between the disciplines. The high level of predictive accuracy of the new XC4H model further supports the use of a multidimensional approach in predicting MTB performance. The difference between the new, XC4H and previous Olympic MTB predictive models demonstrates subtle differences in physiological requirements and performance predictors between the two MTB disciplines.
Peek, K, Gatherer, D, Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J & Watsford, M 2018, 'Muscle strength characteristics of the hamstrings and quadriceps in players from a high-level youth football (soccer) Academy.', Research in sports medicine (Print), vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 276-288.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The objective of this study was to investigate knee muscle strength characteristics in players from a high-level youth football Academy. In total, 110 players (aged 8-15 years) underwent muscle strength assessments carried out by a research physiotherapist using a computer-linked hand-held dynamometer. Results indicated that isometric hamstrings and quadriceps strength increased with age, whereas the isometric hamstring to quadriceps (H/Q) ratio decreased with age. A number of youth football players (n = 20; 18%; 95% CI: 11-27%) demonstrated isometric H/Q ratios of less than 0.60, as well as muscle strength asymmetries between limbs for the hamstrings (n = 40, 36%; 95% CI: 27-46%) and quadriceps (n = 51, 46%; 95% CI 37-56%), potentially increasing injury risk. This study provides new evidence that the isometric H/Q ratio reduces with advancing age during adolescence which may have important implications for junior athlete development and long-term injury prevention in football.
Tribolet, R, Bennett, KJM, Watsford, ML & Fransen, J 2018, 'A multidimensional approach to talent identification and selection in high-level youth Australian Football players.', Journal of sports sciences, vol. 36, no. 22, pp. 2537-2543.View/Download from: Publisher's site
There is limited research in talent identification in youth Australian Football (AF), especially the factors that underpin selection into higher-level development programs. Therefore, this study explored age-related differences in high-level youth AF players and investigated characteristics influencing selection into a high-level development program. Anthropometry (stature, sitting height, body mass), maturity (estimated age at peak height velocity), motor competence (Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder), fitness (change of direction speed, lower body power and upper body muscular endurance) and coach skill ratings (kicking, marking and handballing) of 277 state academy players (U13-U15) were assessed. MANOVAs identified significant age-related differences for anthropometry, fitness, and coach skill ratings. Furthermore, 90.9 and 90.0% of U15 selected and deselected players were classified correctly. Selected players were more mature, taller, heavier, more explosive, faster at changing directions, and had superior kick technique and marking results. These results demonstrate considerable age-group performance outcome differences, highlighting that high-level academies should aim to select or deselect after 15 years of age. Additionally, it appears earlier maturing players are favoured for selection into a high-level academy. While practitioners must consider the confounding effect of maturation, early maturing players may be favoured for their ability to withstand increasing demands in higher-level youth AF.
Bennett, KJM, Novak, AR, Pluss, MA, Stevens, CJ, Coutts, AJ & Fransen, J 2018, 'The use of small-sided games to assess skill proficiency in youth soccer players: a talent identification tool', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 231-236.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: This study adopted an exploratory approach to investigate the use of small-sided games as a talent identification tool to determine youth soccer players' skill proficiency. Methods: A total of 73 male youth soccer players (age = 13.3 ± 1.2 years) were subdivided into two groups in accordance with their playing level (high-level: n = 36, low-level: n = 37). Within their levels, players completed 4 vs. 4 small-sided games on a 30 × 20 m playing surface under two conditions (condition 1: 5 × 3 min, condition 2: 3 × 5 min). Attempted and completed skill involvements were analysed using retrospective video analysis. Skill proficiency was determined as the total completed involvements relative to amount attempted. Results: Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance identified that high-level players displayed a significantly greater number of attempted and completed passes, touches, and total skill involvements compared with low-level players. Only the number of attempted passes and total involvements differed between conditions for high-level players. High-level players' total skill proficiency was significantly greater than their lower level counterparts. Conclusion: This study supports the use of small-sided games as a tool to assess soccer-specific skill proficiency, which coaches and sporting practitioners can apply in a talent identification setting.
© 2018, University of Zagreb - Faculty of Kinesiology. All rights reserved. The purpose of this review is to summarize the research that has examined the match demands of elite-level, men's rugby sevens, and provide enhanced understanding of the elements contributing to successful physical and technical performance. Forty-one studies were sourced from the electronic database of PubMed, Google Scholar and SPORTDiscus. From these, twelve original investigations were included in this review. Positive match outcomes are the result of an interplay of successful physical, technical, and tactical performances. The physical performance of players (activity profile measurement from GPS) includes high relative total distance and high-speed distance values in comparison to other team sports. The technical performance of players (skill involvement measurement from match statistics) involves the execution of a range of specific offensive and defensive skills to score points or prevent the opponent from scoring. The factors influencing change in these performance constructs has not been investigated in rugby sevens. There is a paucity in the literature surrounding the situational and individual factors affecting physical and skill performance in elite rugby sevens competition. Future studies should investigate the factors likely to have the strongest influence on player performance in rugby sevens. This should include larger sample sizes and account for repeated measures within players. This will allow coaches and scientists to improve their interpretation of activity and skill profile data, and make more informed decisions on players' athletic preparation program.
Lovell, TWJ, Bocking, CJ, Fransen, J & Coutts, AJ 2018, 'A multidimensional approach to factors influencing playing level and position in a school-based soccer programme', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 237-245.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Objectives: To examine the factors influencing selection into playing levels and playing positions in a school-based soccer programme. Methods: Anthropometry, maturation, physical capacity, technical ability and motor competence were assessed in 216 soccer players (aged 10–16 years) who participated in a school-based soccer programme. Team coaches selected players into playing levels, playing positions and provided subjective ratings of player ability. Results: Multivariate analyses of covariance showed significant large and moderate differences between playing levels (F = 5.336, P < 0.001, η2 =.30) and playing positions (F = 1.974, P = 0.002, η2 =.14) respectively, for a combination of maturation, anthropometry, physical capacity, technical ability and motor competence, when adjusted for chronological age. Discriminant analysis revealed 64.8% of cases could be correctly classified into playing level with a combination of sprint speed, agility, aerobic fitness, technical ability and motor competence. Large differences in subjective coach ratings were found between positions for players in the highest playing level (F = 2.598, P = 0.001, η2 =.16). Conclusions: These findings contribute new evidence to highlight how individual characteristics influence the selection process in recreational youth soccer, which have important implications for talent development pathways in schools, clubs and academies.
Lovell, TWJ, Bocking, CJ, Fransen, J, Kempton, T & Coutts, AJ 2018, 'Factors affecting physical match activity and skill involvement in youth soccer', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 58-65.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Fransen, J, Bennett, KJM, Woods, CT, French-Collier, N, Deprez, D, Vaeyens, R & Lenoir, M 2017, 'Modelling age-related changes in motor competence and physical fitness in high-level youth soccer players: implications for talent identification and development', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 203-208.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Purpose: The effectiveness of early talent identification and development programs in soccer is questionable due to the dynamic nature of these processes in young and adolescent players. To date, only a few studies have longitudinally modelled developmental trajectories of functional characteristics in youth soccer players, yet none have captured the entire typical age range of soccer development programs (5–20 years). Furthermore, these studies have often failed to take into account the multidimensional nature of talent identification and development processes. Methods: This study used segmented linear models to map the periods of accelerated and decelerated development of motor competence and physical fitness in a large sample (2228 players with 6120 observations) of high level Belgian youth soccer players between 5–20 years. Results: The segmented models revealed that motor competence showed faster development well before the average estimated Age at Peak Height Velocity. Agility, lower body explosive power, intermittent endurance, and straight line running speed showed continuous development that does not slow down until players are between 15–17 years old. Conclusion: This study highlights the dynamic nature of talent development and provides practical considerations for those involved in talent identification and development programs in youth soccer.
Novak, AR, Bennett, KJM, Beavan, A, Pion, J, Spiteri, T, Fransen, J & Lenoir, M 2017, 'The Applicability of a Short Form of the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder for Measuring Motor Competence in Children Aged 6 to 11 Years', Journal of Motor Learning and Development, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 227-239.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study aimed to determine if the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) remained a valid assessment of motor competence following the removal of the hopping for height subtest (KTK3). Children (n = 2479) aged 6–11 years completed all KTK subtests (KTK4) and motor quotient sum scores (MQS) were determined for the KTK3 and KTK4. Classifications were established as MQS below percentile 5 (P5), MQS between percentile 5–15 (P15), MQS between percentile 15–50 (P15–50), MQS between percentile 50–85 (P50–85), MQS between percentile 85–95 (P85), and MQS higher than percentile 95 (P95). Pearson's correlation (r = .97) and cross-tabs (Chi2 = 6822.53, p < .001; Kappa = 0.72) identified substantial agreement overall between the KTK3 and KTK4. However, when classified into separate age and gender categories, poor agreement (< 60%) was found in girls: P15 at 8–11 years and P85 at 6–7 years; and in boys: P5 and P15 at 6 years, P85 at 8 years, and P15 at 10 years. Researchers should consider these findings when selecting which KTK protocol to use.
Fransen, J, Lovell, TW, Bennett, KJ, Deprez, D, Deconinck, FJ, Lenoir, M & Coutts, AJ 2017, 'The Influence of Restricted Visual Feedback on Dribbling Performance in Youth Soccer Players.', Motor Control, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 158-167.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The aim of the present study was to examine the influence of restricted visual feedback using stroboscopic eyewear on the dribbling performance of youth soccer players. Three dribble test conditions were used in a within-subjects design to measure the effect of restricted visual feedback on soccer dribbling performance in 189 youth soccer players (age: 10-18 y) classified as fast, average or slow dribblers. The results showed that limiting visual feedback increased dribble test times across all abilities. Furthermore, the largest performance decrement between stroboscopic and full vision conditions was in fast dribblers, showing that fast dribblers were most affected by reduced visual information. This may be due to a greater dependency on visual feedback at increased speeds, which may limit the ability to maintain continuous control of the ball. These findings may have important implications for the development of soccer dribbling ability.
Smith, MR, Fransen, J, Deprez, D, Coutts, AJ & Lenoir, M 2017, 'Impact of mental fatigue on speed and accuracy components of soccer-specific skills', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 48-52.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study examined the impact of mental fatigue on speed and accuracy components of soccerspecific
skills. Fourteen well-trained soccer players completed the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test
on two occasions, separated by a minimum of 48 h. Tests were preceded, in a randomised order, by
30 min of reading magazines (control) or the Stroop task (mental fatigue). Subjective mental fatigue
was recorded on visual analogue scales before and after reading. Mental effort (referring to the reading
task) and motivation (for the upcoming passing test) were recorded after reading. Soccer-specific skill
performance was assessed using time taken to complete all passes, and number of errors committed.
Mental fatigue and effort were higher following the Stroop task than the magazines (P < 0.001), while
motivation was similar between conditions. Time taken to complete the passing test was similar
between conditions; however, players committed more missed target errors (2.4 ± 1.3 s vs. 1.6 ± 1.1;
P = 0.02) and less perfect passes (5.6 ± 1.4 s vs. 6.6 ± 1.5; P = 0.04) in the mental fatigue condition, while
no other errors were significantly different between conditions. Mental fatigue impairs short passing
accuracy, but not movement speeds during the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test.
Bennett, KJM, Fransen, J, Scott, BR, Sanctuary, CE, Gabbett, TJ & Dascombe, BJ 2016, 'Positional group significantly influences the offensive and defensive skill involvements of junior representative rugby league players during match play', JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, vol. 34, no. 16, pp. 1542-1546.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Bennett, KJM, Scott, BR, Fransen, J, Elsworthy, N, Sanctuary, CE, Gabbett, TJ & Dascombe, BJ 2016, 'Examining the skill involvements of under-16 rugby league players during a small-sided game and match-play', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE & COACHING, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 532-537.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Henrique, RS, Ré, AHN, Stodden, DF, Fransen, J, Campos, CMC, Queiroz, DR & Cattuzzo, MT 2016, 'Association between sports participation, motor competence and weight status: A longitudinal study.', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 825-829.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The aim of this study was to investigate if baseline motor competence, weight status and sports participation in early childhood predict sports participation two years later.longitudinal study.In 2010, motor competence (object control and locomotor skills), weight status and sports participation were assessed in 292 children between three and five years-of-age. In 2012, sports participation was re-evaluated in 206 of the original 292 children. Logistic regression was implemented to examine if initial sports participation, motor competence and weight status would predict sports participation two years later.In the final model, sports participation in 2010 (OR=9.68, CI: 3.46 to 27.13) and locomotor skills (OR=1.21, CI: 1.01 to 1.46) significantly predicted sports participation after two years.These results suggest that initial sports participation and more advanced locomotor skills in preschool years may be important to promote continued participation in sports across childhood.
Woods, CT, Banyard, HG, McKeown, I, Fransen, J & Robertson, S 2016, 'Discriminating Talent Identified Junior Australian Footballers Using a Fundamental Gross Athletic Movement Assessment.', Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 548-553.
Talent identification (TID) is a pertinent component of the sports sciences, affording practitioners the opportunity to target developmental interventions to a select few; optimising financial investments. However, TID is multi-componential, requiring the recognition of immediate and prospective performance. The measurement of athletic movement skill may afford practitioners insight into the latter component given its augmented relationship with functional sport specific qualities. It is currently unknown whether athletic movement skill is a discriminant quality in junior Australian football (AF). This study aimed to discriminate talent identified junior AF players from their non-talent identified counterparts using a fundamental gross athletic movement assessment. From a total of 50 under 18 (U18) AF players; two groups were classified a priori based on selection level; talent identified (n = 25; state academy representatives) and non-talent identified (n = 25; state-based competition representatives). Players performed a fundamental gross athletic movement assessment based on the Athletic Ability Assessment (AAA), consisting of an overhead squat, double lunge (left and right legs), single leg Romanian deadlift (left and right legs), and a push up (six movement criterions). Movements were scored across three assessment points using a three-point scale (resulting in a possible score of nine for each movement). A multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant between group effects on four of the six movement criterions (d = 0.56 - 0.87; p = 0.01 - 0.02). Binary logistic regression models and a receiver operating characteristic curve inspection revealed that the overhead squat score provided the greatest group discrimination (β(SE) = -0.89(0.44); p < 0.05), with a score of 4.5 classifying 64% and 88% of the talent identified and non-talent identified groups, respectively. Results support the integration of this assessment into contemporary talent identifica...
Deprez, D, Buchheit, M, Fransen, J, Pion, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, RM & Vaeyens, R 2015, 'A longitudinal study investigating the stability of anthropometry and soccer-specific endurance in pubertal high-level youth soccer players.', Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 418-426.
We investigated the evolution and stability of anthropometric and soccer-specific endurance characteristics of 42 high-level, pubertal soccer players with high, average and low yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYIR1) baseline performances over two and four years. The rates of improvement were calculated for each performance group, and intra-class correlations were used to verify short- and long-term stability. The main finding was that after two and four years, the magnitudes of the differences at baseline were reduced, although players with high YYIR1 baseline performance still covered the largest distance (e.g., low from 703 m to 2126 m; high from 1503 m to 2434 m over four years). Furthermore, the YYIR1 showed a high stability over two years (ICC = 0.76) and a moderate stability over four years (ICC = 0.59), due to large intra-individual differences in YYIR1 performances over time. Anthropometric measures showed very high stability (ICCs between 0.94 to 0.97) over a two-year period, in comparison with a moderate stability (ICCs between 0.57 and 0.75) over four years. These results confirm the moderate-to-high stability of high-intensity running performance in young soccer players, and suggest that the longer the follow-up, the lower the ability to predict player's future potential in running performance. They also show that with growth and maturation, poor performers might only partially catch up their fitter counterparts between 12 and 16 years. Key pointsYoung, high-level soccer players with a relatively low intermittent-endurance capacity are capable to catch up with their better performing peers after four years.Individual development and improvements of anthropometric and physical characteristics should be considered when evaluating young soccer players.
Deprez, D, Fransen, J, Boone, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, R & Vaeyens, R 2015, 'Characteristics of high-level youth soccer players: variation by playing position', JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 243-254.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Deprez, D, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, RM & Vaeyens, R 2015, 'A retrospective study on anthropometrical, physical fitness and motor coordination characteristics that influence drop out, contract status and first-team playing time in high-level soccer players, aged 8 to 18 years.', Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1692-1704.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The goal of this manuscript was twofold and a two-study approach was conducted. The first study aimed to expose the anthropometrical, physical performance and motor coordination characteristics that influence drop out from a high-level soccer training program in players aged 8-16 years. The mixed-longitudinal sample included 388 Belgian youth soccer players who were assigned to either a 'club group' or a 'drop out group'. In the second study, cross-sectional data of anthropometry, physical performance and motor coordination were retrospectively explored to investigate which characteristics influence future contract status (contract vs. no contract group) and first-team playing time for 72 high-level youth soccer players (mean age=16.2 y).Generally, club players outperformed their drop out peers for motor coordination, soccer-specific aerobic endurance and speed. Anthropometry and estimated maturity status did not discriminate between club and drop out players. Contract players jumped further (p=0.011) and had faster times for a 5m sprint (p=0.041) than no contract players. The following prediction equation explains 16.7% of the variance in future playing minutes in adolescent youth male soccer players: -2869.3 + 14.6 * standing broad jump.Practitioners should include the evaluation of motor coordination, aerobic endurance and speed performances to distinguish high-level soccer players further succeeding a talent development program and future drop out players, between 8 and 16 years. From the age of 16 years, measures of explosivity are supportive when selecting players into a future professional soccer career.
Deprez, D, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, RM & Vaeyens, R 2015, 'The Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 is reliable in young high-level soccer players', BIOLOGY OF SPORT, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 65-70.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Deprez, DN, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, RM & Vaeyens, R 2015, 'A RETROSPECTIVE STUDY ON ANTHROPOMETRICAL, PHYSICAL FITNESS, AND MOTOR COORDINATION CHARACTERISTICS THAT INFLUENCE DROPOUT, CONTRACT STATUS, AND FIRST-TEAM PLAYING TIME IN HIGH-LEVEL SOCCER PLAYERS AGED EIGHT TO EIGHTEEN YEARS', JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1692-1704.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Pion, J, Segers, V, Fransen, J, Debuyck, G, Deprez, D, Haerens, L, Vaeyens, R, Philippaerts, R & Lenoir, M 2015, 'Generic anthropometric and performance characteristics among elite adolescent boys in nine different sports', EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SPORT SCIENCE, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 357-366.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Pion, JA, Fransen, J, Deprez, DN, Segers, VI, Vaeyens, R, Philippaerts, RM & Lenoir, M 2015, 'Stature and jumping height are required in female volleyball, but motor coordination is a key factor for future elite success.', J Strength Cond Res, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1480-1485.View/Download from: Publisher's site
It was hypothesized that differences in anthropometry, physical performance, and motor coordination would be found between Belgian elite and sub-elite level female volleyball players using a retrospective analysis of test results gathered over a 5-year period. The test sample in this study consisted of 21 young female volleyball players (15.3 ± 1.5 years) who were selected to train at the Flemish Top Sports Academy for Volleyball in 2008. All players (elite, n = 13; sub-elite, n = 8) were included in the same talent development program, and the elite-level athletes were of a high to very high performance levels according to European competition level in 2013. Five multivariate analyses of variance were used. There was no significant effect of playing level on measures of anthropometry (F = 0.455, p = 0.718, (Equation is included in full-text article.)= 0.07), flexibility (F = 1.861, p = 0.188, (Equation is included in full-text article.)= 0.19), strength (F = 1.218, p = 0.355, (Equation is included in full-text article.)= 0.32); and speed and agility (F = 1.176, p = 0.350, (Equation is included in full-text article.)= 0.18). Multivariate analyses of variance revealed significant multivariate effects between playing levels for motor coordination (F = 3.470, p = 0.036, (Equation is included in full-text article.)= 0.59). A Mann-Whitney U test and a sequential discriminant analysis confirmed these results. Previous research revealed that stature and jump height are prerequisites for talent identification in female volleyball. In addition, the results show that motor coordination is an important factor in determining inclusion into the elite level in female volleyball.
Fransen, J, Deprez, D, Pion, J, Tallir, IB, D'Hondt, E, Vaeyens, R, Lenoir, M & Philippaerts, RM 2014, 'Changes in physical fitness and sports participation among children with different levels of motor competence: a 2-year longitudinal study.', Pediatric Exercise Science, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 11-21.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The goal of this study was to investigate differences in physical fitness and sports participation over 2 years in children with relatively high, average, and low motor competence. Physical fitness and gross motor coordination of 501 children between 6-10 years were measured at baseline and baseline+2 years. The sample compromised 2 age cohorts: 6.00-7.99 and 8.00-9.99 years. An age and sex-specific motor quotient at baseline testing was used to subdivide these children into low (MQ < P33), average (P33 ≤ MQ < P66) and high (MQ ≥ P66) motor competence groups. Measures of sports participation were obtained through a physical activity questionnaire in 278 of the same children. Repeated Measures MANCOVA and two separate ANOVAs were used to analyze differences in changes in physical fitness and measures of sports participation respectively. Children with high motor competence scored better on physical fitness tests and participated in sports more often. Since physical fitness levels between groups changed similarly over time, low motor competent children might be at risk for being less physically fit throughout their life. Furthermore, since low motor competent children participate less in sports, they have fewer opportunities of developing motor abilities and physical fitness and this may further prevent them from catching up with their peers with an average or high motor competence.
Fransen, J, D'Hondt, E, Bourgois, J, Vaeyens, R, Philippaerts, RM & Lenoir, M 2014, 'Motor competence assessment in children: convergent and discriminant validity between the BOT-2 Short Form and KTK testing batteries.', Research in Developmental Disabilities, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 1375-1383.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This study investigated convergent and discriminant validity between two motor competence assessment instruments in 2485 Flemish children: the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency 2 Short Form (BOT-2 Short Form) and the KörperKoördinationsTest für Kinder (KTK). A Pearson correlation assessed the relationship between BOT-2 Short Form total, gross and fine motor composite scores and KTK Motor Quotient in three age cohorts (6-7, 8-9, 10-11 years). Crosstabs were used to measure agreement in classification in children scoring below percentile 5 and 15 and above percentile 85 and 95. Moderately strong positive (r=0.44-0.64) associations between BOT-2 total and gross motor composite scores and KTK Motor Quotient and weak positive correlations between BOT-2 Short Form fine motor composite and KTK Motor Quotient scores (r=0.25-0.37) were found. Levels of agreement were fair to moderate. Therefore, some proof of convergent and discriminant validity between BOT-2 Short Form and KTK was established in this study, underlining the notion that the evaluation of motor competence should not be based upon a single assessment instrument.
Pion, J, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M & Segers, V 2014, 'The value of non-sport-specific characteristics for talent orientation in young male judo, karate and taekwondo athletes', Archives of Budo, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 147-152.
Background & Study Aim: The present study aims to discriminate young male taekwondo, judo, and karate athletes from two age groups. It is hypothesized that a generic test battery (i.e. consisting of non-sport specific items) can allocate athletes in their respective sports. It is also expected that due to training and experience, differences between sports would be larger in the oldest age group. Material & Methods: Fifty-six highly trained taekwondo, judo, and karate athletes U13 (11.596 ± 0.578 years; n = 30) and U18 (16.097 ± 0.844 years; n = 26) completed five anthropometrical, six physical performance and three motor coordination tests. Discriminant analyses were used to investigate relevant performance measures while MANOVAs were conducted to elucidate the differences between taekwondo, judo and karate. Results: The classification results for both discriminant analyses U13 and U18 showed a perfect classification (100%) of the athletes in their respective sports. U18 showed higher multivariate differences between the three martial arts i.e. for anthropometrical measures (F2.148, P =0.044, ES =0.36), physical performance characteristics (F2.216, P =0.033, ES =0.43) and motor coordination (F6.697, P < 0.001, ES =0.49) when compared to their younger counterparts. Judo athletes had the highest scores for sit and reach, handgrip, counter movement jump and balance beam. While taekwondo athletes had the highest scores for sit-ups, sprint 5m and 30m and jumping sideways. Conclusions: Generic talent characteristics allow for a successful discrimination between judo, taekwondo and karate athletes, while the differences between the martial arts profiles are more pronounced in older athletes. © Archives of Budo.
Deprez, D, Coutts, AJ, Lenoir, M, Fransen, J, Pion, J, Philippaerts, RM & Vaeyens, R 2014, 'Reliability and validity of the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test Level 1 in young soccer players', Journal of Sports Sciences, vol. 32, pp. 903-910.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The present study investigated the test-retest reliability from the Yo-Yo IR1 (distance and heart rate responses), and the ability of the Yo-Yo IR1 to differentiate between elite and non-elite youth soccer players. A total of 228 youth soccer players (1117 years) participated: 78 non-elite players to examine the test-retest reliability within 1 week, added with 150 elite players to investigate the construct validity. The main finding was that the distance covered was adequately reproducible in the youngest age groups (U13 and U15) and highly reproducible in the oldest age group (U17). Also, the physiological responses were highly reproducible in all age groups. Moreover, the Yo-Yo IR1 test had a high-discriminative ability to distinguish between elite and non-elite young soccer players. Furthermore, age-related standards for the Yo-Yo IR1 established for elite and non-elite groups in this study may be used for comparison of other young soccer players.
Matthys, SPJ, Fransen, J, Vaeyens, R, Lenoir, M & Philippaerts, R 2013, 'Differences in biological maturation, anthropometry and physical performance between playing positions in youth team handball', JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, vol. 31, no. 12, pp. 1344-1352.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Matthys, SPJ, Vaeyens, R, Fransen, J, Deprez, D, Pion, J, Vandendriessche, J, Vandorpe, B, Lenoir, M & Philippaerts, R 2013, 'A longitudinal study of multidimensional performance characteristics related to physical capacities in youth handball', JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 325-334.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Deprez, D, Coutts, AJ, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M, Vaeyens, R, Philippaerts, RM & Deconinck, F 2013, 'Relative age, biological maturation and anaerobic characteristics in elite youth soccer players', International Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 897-903.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Being relatively older and having an advanced biological maturation status have been associated with increased likelihood of selection in young elite soccer players. The aims of the study were to investigate the presence of a relative age effect (RAE) and the influence of birth quarter on anthropometry, biological maturity and anaerobic parameters in 374 elite Belgian youth soccer players. The sample was divided into 3 age groups, each subdivided into 4 birth quarters (BQ). Players had their APHV estimated and height, weight, SBJ, CMJ, sprint 5 and 30 m were assessed. Overall, more players were born in BQ1 (42.3%) compared with players born in BQ4 (13.7%). Further, MANCOVA revealed no differences in all parameters between the 4 BQ's, controlled for age and APHV. These results suggest that relatively youngest players can offset the RAE if they enter puberty earlier. Furthermore, the results demonstrated possible differences between BQ1 and BQ4, suggesting that caution is necessary when estimating differences between players because of large discrepancies between statistical and practical significance. These findings also show that coaches should develop realistic expectations of the physical abilities of younger players and these expectations should be made in the context of biological characteristics rather than chronological age-based standards
Fransen, J, Pion, J, Vandendriessche, J, Vandorpe, B, Vaeyens, R, Lenoir, M & Philippaerts, RM 2012, 'Differences in physical fitness and gross motor coordination in boys aged 6-12 years specializing in one versus sampling more than one sport', JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 379-386.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Lovell, T, Bocking, CJ, Fransen, J, Chang, S & Coutts, AJ 2016, 'The influence of maturation, physical capacity, technical ability and motor competence on playing level and position in youth soccer players' in Favero, T, Drust, B & Dawson, B (eds), International Research in Science and Soccer II, Routledge, UK, pp. 277-285.
The chapters contained within this volume were first presented at The Fourth World Conference on Science and Soccer, held in Portland, Oregon, in June 2014 under the auspices of the World Commission of Science and Sports.
- Sydney Swans Football Club
- QBE Sydney Swans Academy
- Rugby Australia
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- TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
- Deutscher Fußball-bund (German Football Federation)