The aim of this study was to quantify the motion demands of match-play in elite U12 to U16 age-group soccer players. Altogether, 112 players from two professional soccer clubs at five age-group levels (U12–U16) were monitored during competitive matches (n = 14) using a 5 Hz non-differential global positioning system (NdGPS). Velocity thresholds were normalized for each age-group using the mean squad times for a flying 10 m sprint test as a reference point. Match performance was reported as total distance, high-intensity distance, very high-intensity distance, and sprint distance. Data were reported both in absolute (m) and relative (m · min−1) terms due to a rolling substitute policy. The U15 (1.35 ± 0.09 s) and U16 (1.31 ± 0.06 s) players were significantly quicker than the U12 (1.58 ± 0.10 s), U13 (1.52 ± 0.07 s), and U14 (1.51 ± 0.08 s) players in the flying 10 m sprint test (P < 0.001). The U16 age-group covered significantly more absolute total distance (U16 > U12, U13, U14), high-intensity distance (U16 > U12, U13, U14, U15), very high-intensity distance (U16 > U12, U13), and sprint distance (U16 > U12, U13) than their younger counterparts (P < 0.05). When the data are considered relative to match exposure, few differences are apparent. Training prescription for youth soccer players should consider the specific demands of competitive match-play in each age-group.
Harley, J. A., Barnes, C. A., Portas, M., Lovell, R., Barrett, S., Paul, D., & Weston, M. (2010). Motion analysis of match-play in elite U12 to U16 age-group soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(13), 1391-1397. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2010.510142