Using a Novel Motion Tracking System to Assess Movement Competence in Youth Football Players

  • Mihkel-Madis Laas

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Foundational movements in children and adolescents are important as they are associated with physical activity levels and are seen as critical in young athlete development, to prepare for more advanced athletic training. Yet, movement assessments in athletic populations are challenging and often, subjective. As such, the Athletic Movement Analysis Tool (AMAT) was developed as a novel solution to advance movement assessments. This thesis aimed to quantify the AMAT`s applied reliability and develop the practical application of the AMAT movement assessment battery in football academies.
The first empirical study assessed the within-session reliability of the AMAT balance and squat tests, without habituation (n = 197). Moderate to high relative reliability (ICC, 0.71 – 0.79) was observed. Moderate to large typical errors 8.3 – 10.8% in the balance and 19.3 – 21.8% in squats indicated that the scores did not stabilise and are not reliable within-players. Study 2 undertook between-week reliability with habituation of two tests (stride and squat; n = 13). Stride showed high ICCs (0.76; 0.46 – 0.90; 90% confidence [compatibility] interval [CI]), and moderate typical errors (2.1%; 1.6 – 3.3; 90% CI), whereas the squat showed poor reliability in both and was not used in further studies within this thesis.
After testing reliability, study 3 aimed to investigate the changes in the stride against meaningful performance measure on the pitch (sprint speed; n = 144). The study results revealed that the stride did not produce meaningful changes in the sprint (10-m, 20-m) over a long period of time (three seasons) with small within-player negative correlations (r < -0.30). There were very large negative correlations between the players stride and sprint scores (r ≥ -0.70) which could differentiate faster and slower players. The scores did not substantially differ between maturation groups (pre- and post-PHV). Thus, the stride appears a reliable test capable of discriminating between faster and slower players, however when assessing foundational movements, it is important to understand both the product and the process (i.e., movement technique).
Following the empirical studies, several iterative steps are described for developing a movement quality assessment system, using the AMAT’s 3D kinematic tracking capabilities. The purpose was to create accurate and automated feedback for the athlete, based on the competence of the actions they perform. Chapter 7 describes the development of the kinematic variables used in the AMAT tests to determine movement quality scores. Providing this information as instantaneous feedback of 3D kinematics could be an important component of training programs designed to improve players’ movement skills.
Finally, the outcomes of each Chapter are discussed, and suggestions are provided for future research on the AMAT system. The findings indicate that the AMAT can reliably assess the stride in a group of youth footballers, but practitioners must provide adequate habituation prior to testing. This needs to be confirmed with a bigger sample (n = ~ 50). Furthermore, the stride is strongly associated with locomotor (sprint) performance across athletes, but it is not able to track-changes overtime. Future research should further explore the validity of the movement kinematic measures within the AMAT system in youth footballers.
Date of AwardAug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAlan Batterham (Supervisor), Matthew Wright (Supervisor) & Matthew Portas (Supervisor)

Cite this