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Maturity-status bio-banding as a tool for ongoing talent (de)selection of academy soccer players using a multi-disciplinary approach

MacMaster, Calum


Calum MacMaster


Christopher Towlson


This repeated measures design study aimed to provide a greater understanding of the physical, psychological, technical and tactical responses of youth soccer players to maturity status bio-banding within small sided games, as a potential tool for talent identification. Ninety-two youth soccer players aged 11 to 15-years-old (age: 13.6 ± 1.1 years, height: 163.0 ± 9.7cm, weight: 49.5 ± 9.1 kg, % of estimated adult stature attained (EASA): 89.6 ± 4.2 %, years from peak height velocity (YPHV): -0.3 ± 1.1 years) were recruited for the study from three professional soccer club’s youth academies. The players were arranged into three maturity status groups; pre-PHV, circa-PHV and post-PHV. This arrangement was completed by the use of predictive maturation equations (Khamis & Roche, 1994; Fransen, et al., 2018). Cut off values for each of the methods were used to distinguish between the groupings (Khamis & Roche, 1994: pre <-1.0 YPHV, circa -1.0-0.0 YPHV and post >0.0 YPHV; Fransen et al., 2018: pre <87.0% EASA, circa 87.0-91.9% EASA and post ≥92.0% EASA). Using their predicted maturity status, players were assigned to one of six teams per testing club, comprised of players with the same maturity status, with the exception of the final testing week where random selection to teams was used. Teams competed against the other five squads once per testing night creating maturity matched and maturity unmatched fixtures during the first two testing weeks and mixed maturity fixtures during the final testing week. Players were monitored using micro-electromechanical systems with an integrated global positioning system, a heart rate monitor and subjectively by a technical and psychological scoring chart, completed by coaching staff. Through linear mixed modelling of the collected data, it was revealed how pre-PHV players experience significantly (Khamis and Roche (1994): P ≤ 0.001; Fransen et al. (2018) P < 0.05) greater physical loading, as determined by the summation of accelerations across three planes of motion using the PlayerLoadTM calculation. They also perceive the small sided match play to be significantly (Khamis and Roche (1994): P < 0.05; Fransen et al. (2018): P < 0.05) harder, compared to the ‘circa’ and post-PHV maturity bandings, assessed by collection of rating of perceived exertion (RPE) values. ‘Between biological maturity banding’ small sided match play produced very little difference in psychological, technical and tactical values. However, when players competed within maturity ‘matched’ bio-banded games, they produced their best overall performances. Pre-PHV players covered significantly (P < 0.05) more distance, with seven of the ten technical variables being scored higher and players also perceived these matches to be less demanding. Post-PHV players perceived a greater challenge, as assessed by RPE, against matched maturity squads and in addition, recorded higher physical and technical marks, with six of their ten technical values scoring higher. PlayerLoadTM was also greater, conveying a greater physical demand, with a significant difference being present between ‘pre’ and ‘post’ squads (P < 0.05) (Khamis and Roche (1994); matched: 56.6 AU, post v circa: 54.2 AU, post v pre: 55.0 AU, Fransen et al. (2018); matched: 56.8 AU, post v circa: 55.3, post v pre: 53.3 AU). Tactical differences as assessed by maturity status and fixture setup i.e. maturity status bio-banding were not present within the results, however tactical differences were possibly constrained by pitch dimensions. These findings highlight the possible use of maturity status bio-banded small sided match play within youth soccer for (de)selection purposes by eliciting changes in the physical, technical and psychological responses of the players, facilitating the talent identification process.


MacMaster, C. (2019). Maturity-status bio-banding as a tool for ongoing talent (de)selection of academy soccer players using a multi-disciplinary approach. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 25, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Sports science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sport, Health & Exercise Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 2019


Thesis (1.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 MacMaster, Calum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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