Learning and Talent in Soccer

The ecological validity of three representative games of the invasion games tactical problems (keeping possession, attacking the goal and scoring) for assessing the game performance of 21 U-10 youth soccer players was analyzed. Data were analyzed according to the year of competition of the players in U-10 categories (First or Second) and the level of expertise. Second year players game performance was significantly higher in decisions for keeping in the game that represented this tactical problem (U = 33, p =.051, r = .44), and in passing decisions for keeping in the attacking game (U = 33, p = .044, r = .42). The level of expertise correlated significantly with the game performance in getting-free decisions and executions (rho = .573, p = .007; rho = .620, p = .003) for keeping in the keeping game, and also in the getting-free executions for attacking in the scoring game (rho = .480, p = .028). Less skilled players showed significantly higher values in the 'spectator player' behavior in the scoring game (rho = -.521, p = .015). The findings are discussed in relation to the ecological validity of the games for learning and talent assessments.

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