Monitoring practices of training load and biological maturity in UK soccer academies: Monitoring training load and maturity

Jamie Salter, Mark De Ste Croix, Jonathan Hughes, Matthew Weston, Chris Towlson

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Abstract

Purpose
Overuse injury risk increases during periods of accelerated growth which can subsequently impact development in academy soccer, suggesting a need to quantify training exposure. Non-prescriptive development scheme legislation could lead to inconsistent approaches to monitoring maturity and training load. Therefore, this study aims to communicate current practices of UK soccer academies towards biological maturity and training load.
Methods
Fourty-nine respondents completed an online survey representing support staff from male Premier League academies (n = 38) and female Regional Talent Clubs (n = 11). The survey included 16 questions covering maturity and training load monitoring. Questions were multiple-choice or unipolar scaled (agreement 0-100) with a magnitude-based decision approach used for interpretation.
Results
Injury prevention was deemed highest importance for maturity (83.0  5.3, mean ±SD) and training load monitoring (80.0  2.8). There were large differences in methods adopted for maturity estimation and moderate differences for training load monitoring between academies. Predictions of maturity were deemed comparatively low in importance for bio-banded (biological classification) training (61.0  3.3) and low for bio-banded competition (56.0  1.8) across academies. Few respondents reported maturity (42%) and training load (16%) to parent/guardians, and only 9% of medical staff were routinely provided this data.
Conclusions
Although consistencies between academies exist, disparities in monitoring approaches are likely reflective of environment-specific resource and logistical constraints. Designating consistent and qualified responsibility to staff will help promote fidelity, feedback and transparency to advise stakeholders of maturity-load relationships. Practitioners should consider biological categorisation to manage load prescription to promote maturity appropriate dose-responses and help reduce non-contact injury risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Apr 2020

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