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, 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
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
© 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.
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, pp. 1-8.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or 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. 1-7.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or 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.
Novak, AR, Bennett, KJM, Pluss, MA, Fransen, J, Watsford, ML & Dascombe, BJ 2018, 'Power profiles of competitive and non-competitive mountain bikers.', Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or 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 Wkg (5 s effort) to 4.1 ± 0.6 Wkg (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 Wkg; p=0.002), 240 s (4.7 ± 0.7 vs 3.8 ± 0.4 Wkg; p<0.001) and 600 s (4.1 ± 0.6 vs 3.4 ± 0.3 Wkg; 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.
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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study examined the skill involvements of three positional groups across a junior representative rugby league season. Data were collected from 45 rugby league players (mean ± SD; age = 16.5 ± 1.0 years) currently participating in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball Cup. Players were subdivided into hit-up forwards, adjustables and outside backs. The frequency (n min(-1)) of offensive, defensive and overall involvements was coded for each group using a notation system and a practical coach skill analysis tool. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a significant effect of playing position on skill involvements (F = 9.06; P < 0.001; ES = 0.41). Hit-up forwards performed a significantly greater frequency of offensive (0.31 ± 0.10), defensive (0.42 ± 0.15) and overall involvements (0.74 ± 0.19) when compared to adjustables (0.20 ± 0.08, 0.28 ± 0.08 and 0.52 ± 0.15, respectively) and outside backs (0.20 ± 0.12, 0.11 ± 0.07 and ± 0.31 ± 0.17, respectively). Further, adjustables performed a significantly greater number of defensive (0.28 ± 0.08) and overall involvements (0.52 ± 0.15) when compared to outside backs (0.11 ± 0.07 and 0.31 ± 0.17, respectively). The findings of this study suggest that it is important to consider a junior player's positional group when analysing their skill involvements. Information gained from this study could assist in the design of specific training methodologies for junior rugby league players in high-level talent development programmes.
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 and Coaching, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 532-537.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2016. This study investigated the correlations between the skill demands of an 'on-side' small-sided game (SSG) and match-play in under-16 junior rugby league players. Fifteen Harold Matthews players undertook a SSG (10 vs. 10 on a 68 m by 40 m playing surface for 3 min) in the week leading up to round 6 of their competitive season. The frequency of skill involvements (i.e. offensive, defensive and total) was manually coded using a specific criterion. The defensive and total skill involvements were significantly higher per minute of play in the SSG when compared to match-play. A significant, very large, positive correlation was observed between offensive and total skill involvements during a SSG and offensive skill involvements during a match (r(s) = 0.80, p < 0.01; r(s) = 0.71, p < 0.01, respectively). No significant correlations were evident for defensive skill involvements during SSG and match-play. Overall, it appears that the selected SSG provided players with ample opportunity to practice match-specific skills. In addition, the transfer of these opportunities seems confined to offensive rather then defensive skills.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
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 ((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.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The present study aimed to investigate positional differences in 744 high-level soccer players, aged 8 to 18 years. Players were assigned to six age groups (U9-U19) and divided into four playing positions (goalkeeper (GK), defender (DEF), midfielder (MF) and attacker (ATT)). MANOVA and effect sizes were used to examine anthropometrical and functional characteristics between all positions in all age groups. The main findings of the study were that GKs and DEFs were the tallest and heaviest compared with MFs and ATTs in all age groups. Further, between U9-U15, no significant differences in functional characteristics were found, except for dribbling skill, which MFs performed the best. In the U17-U19 age groups, ATTs seemed to be the most explosive (with GKs), the fastest and the more agile field players. These results suggest that inherent physical capacities (i.e., speed, power, agility) might select players in or reject players from an attacking position, which is still possible from U15-U17. Apparently, players with excellent dribbling skills at younger age are more likely to be selected to play as a MF, although, one might conclude that the typical physical characteristics for different positions at senior level are not yet fully developed among young soccer players between 8 and 14 years.
Deprez, D, Fransen, J, Lenoir, M, Philippaerts, R & 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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The aim of the study was to investigate test reliability of the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYIR1) in 36 high-level youth soccer players, aged between 13 and 18 years. Players were divided into three age groups (U15, U17 and U19) and completed three YYIR1 in three consecutive weeks. Pairwise comparisons were used to investigate test reliability (for distances and heart rate responses) using technical error (TE), coefficient of variation (CV), intra-class correlation (ICC) and limits of agreement (LOA) with Bland-Altman plots. The mean YYIR1 distances for the U15, U17 and U19 groups were 2024 ± 470 m, 2404 ± 347 m and 2547 ± 337 m, respectively. The results revealed that the TEs varied between 74 and 172 m, CVs between 3.0 and 7.5%, and ICCs between 0.87 and 0.95 across all age groups for the YYIR1 distance. For heart rate responses, the TEs varied between 1 and 6 bpm, CVs between 0.7 and 4.8%, and ICCs between 0.73 and 0.97. The small ratio LOA revealed that any two YYIR1 performances in one week will not differ by more than 9 to 28% due to measurement error. In summary, the YYIR1 performance and the physiological responses have proven to be highly reliable in a sample of Belgian high-level youth soccer players, aged between 13 and 18 years. The demonstrated high level of intermittent endurance capacity in all age groups may be used for comparison of other prospective young soccer players.
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: UTS OPUS or 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, 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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The goal of this article was twofold, and a 2-study approach was conducted. The first study aimed to expose the anthropometrical, physical performance, and motor coordination characteristics that influence dropout 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 "dropout 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 years). Generally, club players outperformed their dropout peers for motor coordination, soccer-specific aerobic endurance, and speed. Anthropometry and estimated maturity status did not discriminate between club and dropout players. Contract players jumped further (p = 0.011) and had faster times for a 5-m 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: -2,869.3 + 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 dropout 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.
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the Flemish Sports Compass (FSC), a non-sport-specific generic testing battery. It was hypothesised that a set of 22 tests would have sufficient discriminant power to allocate athletes to their own sport based on a unique combination of test scores. First, discriminant analyses were applied to the 22 tests of anthropometry, physical fitness and motor coordination in 141 boys under age 18 (16.1 ± 0.8 years) and post age at peak height velocity (maturity offset = 2.674 ± 0.926) from Flemish Top Sport Academies for badminton, basketball, gymnastics, handball, judo, soccer, table tennis, triathlon and volleyball. Second, nine sequential discriminant analyses were used to assess the ability of a set of relevant performance characteristics classifying participants and non-participants for the respective sports. Discriminant analyses resulted in a 96.4% correct classification of all participants for the nine different sports. When focusing on relevant performance characteristics, 80.1% to 97.2% of the total test sample was classified correctly within their respective disciplines. The discriminating characteristics were briefly the following: flexibility in gymnastics, explosive lower-limb strength in badminton and volleyball, speed and agility in badminton, judo, soccer and volleyball, upper-body strength in badminton, basketball and gymnastics, cardiorespiratory endurance in triathletes, dribbling skills in handball, basketball and soccer and overhead-throwing skills in badminton and volleyball. The generic talent characteristics of the FSC enable the distinction of adolescent boys according to their particular sport. Implications for talent programmes are discussed.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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.
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: UTS OPUS or 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: UTS OPUS or 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.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
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, 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: UTS OPUS or 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
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
It was the goal of this cross-sectional study to examine differences in maturity, anthropometry and physical performance between youth handball players across different playing positions (i.e. goalkeeper, back, pivot and wing). Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), accounting for biological maturation, was used to assess positional differences in 472 male youth handball players from three age groups: U14, U15 and U16. Differences in age at peak height velocity were found in all age groups. Backs were significantly more mature than wings in U14 and U15 and than wings and pivots in U16. Furthermore, backs are overall taller, have a bigger arm span and perform best on tests for strength, agility and speed, especially in the U15 age group. Therefore, it can be concluded that youth players with the most advanced maturation status and the most favourable anthropometry and physical fitness scores, are consistently positioned in the back position. Players with a less advanced maturity status and an overall smaller stature are placed on the wing or pivot positions. In conclusion, it seems that anthropometrical and maturational characteristics are used by coaches to directly and/or indirectly select players for specific field positions. This strategy is risky since anthropometry and maturity status change over the years.
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Longitudinal research provides valuable information about change and progress towards elite performance. Unfortunately, there is a lack of longitudinal research in handball. In this study, 94 youth handball players (oldest group: n = 41; age 15-17 and youngest group: n = 53; age 13-15) were followed over a three-year period. Repeated measures ANCOVA was conducted to reveal longitudinal changes in anthropometry and physical performance between elite and non-elite players, controlling for maturation. Maturation effects were found for anthropometry (P < 0.01) and some physical performance measures in strength and speed (P < 0.05). The lack of significant interaction effects revealed that during the three years of the study the elite players did not improve their physical performance more rapidly than the non-elites. Furthermore, they had a similar anthropometric profile to the non-elites. Elite players performed better on the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test (P < 0.01; on average 24.0 in the youngest group and 25.2% in the oldest group over the three years) and on the speed and coordination items (P < 0.05; shuttle run: 3.6 and 5.1%; cross hopping: 11.0 and 14.8%, handball-specific shuttle run: 7.6 and 7.7%; slalom dribble test: 10.7 and 8.9%; sprint 30 m: 4.9 and 3.9%). Additionally, Yo-Yo performance and coordination with and without a ball were the most discriminating factors between the playing levels. In conclusion, youth coaches and scouts within team handball should recognise the importance of good skills and an excellent endurance for talent identification purposes.
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: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The Developmental Model of Sports Participation proposes two pathways towards expertise in sports between 6 and 12 years of age: early specialization and early diversification. This study investigated the effect of sampling various sports and of spending many or few hours in sports on fitness and gross motor coordination. Altogether, 735 boys in three age groups (6-8, 8-10, and 10-12 years) were profiled using a fitness test battery. A computerized physical activity questionnaire was used to obtain data on sports participation. In the eldest group, (M)ANCOVA showed a positive effect of sampling various sports on strength, speed, endurance, and gross motor coordination (P < 0.05). A positive effect of many hours per week spent in sports was apparent in every age group. These data suggest an acute positive effect of many hours in sports and a latent positive effect of early sampling on fitness and gross motor coordination. Multiple comparisons revealed that boys aged 10-12 years, who spent many hours in various sports, performed better on standing broad jump (P < 0.05) and gross motor coordination (P < 0.05) than boys specializing in a single sport. Therefore, our results highlight the importance of spending many hours in sports and sampling various sports in the development of fitness and gross motor coordination.
Lovell, T., Bocking, C.J., Fransen, J., Chang, S. & Coutts, A.J. 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.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
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.
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