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

Salter, Jamie; De Ste Croix, Mark B; Hughes, Jonathan; Weston, Matthew; Towlson, Christopher


Jamie Salter

Mark B De Ste Croix

Jonathan Hughes

Matthew Weston


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. Nonprescriptive development scheme legislation could lead to inconsistent approaches to monitoring maturity and training load. Therefore, this study aimed to communicate current practices of UK soccer academies toward biological maturity and training load. Methods: Forty-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-loadmonitoring 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 categorization to manage load prescription to promote maturity-appropriate dose-responses and to help reduce the risk of noncontact injury.


Salter, J., De Ste Croix, M. B., Hughes, J., Weston, M., & Towlson, C. (2021). Monitoring practices of training load and biological maturity in UK soccer academies. International journal of sports physiology and performance : IJSPP, 16(3), 395-406.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 21, 2020
Publication Date 2021-03
Deposit Date Oct 24, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 29, 2020
Journal International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Print ISSN 1555-0265
Electronic ISSN 1555-0273
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 3
Pages 395-406
Keywords Maturity; Training load; Monitoring; Injury; Adolescent; Soccer
Public URL
Publisher URL Early online section:
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