Talent identification and selection in soccer has been shown to be confounded by individual differences in relative age and biological maturation. Limited research has however, investigated whether these effects are reflected in coaches’ evaluations of performance. This study investigated relative and biological age associated differences in coach perceptions of performance in a professional soccer academy across four seasons. The performances of 279 male players were evaluated on a 4-point Likert-scale. Multi-level modelling was used to examine predictive relationships between biological age, chronological age, result and opposition of game, on match grades. Result of the games was a statistically significant predictor of players perceived performance in every age-group; category of opposition was only significant in the under 13 and 14 age-groups. Biological age significantly predicted players perceived performance grades in the under 10, 14 and 15 age-groups, whereby advanced maturity predicted a higher grade. Across all age-groups, a relative age effect was observed, however age half was not a significant predictor of perceived performance grade in any age-group. Coaches evaluations of match performance appear to vary in accordance with maturity, opposition, and result of game. Academy staff should recognise and account for individual differences in biological maturation when retaining and releasing players.
|Journal||International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching|
|Early online date||22 Oct 2020|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2020|