THE EFFECT OF RELATIVE AGE ON THE IDENTIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF SPORTS TALENT
The effect of relative age refers to the difference in skills between people who have been grouped for a particular purpose or function based on age.
Football matches are made up of two 45-minute playing periods. In single-elimination tournaments (Knock-Out: KO), like the final rounds of the FIFA World Cup, in case of a draw at the end of the mandatory 90 minutes, an additional 30-minute period of play, called extra time, is added to decide the winner of the match. It is very likely that during a season, most players do not play this extra time. However, this extra time in the game has an impact on the final result of the match.
Two studies have analyzed how playing extra time influences players’ physical and technical-tactical performance. The first study1 analyzed the impact of extra time for the total distance covered by the football players and the distance covered at low (<11.0 km.h-1), medium (11.1-14.0 km.h-1) and high (>14.1 km.h-1) intensity, the maximum speed, the number of sprints, and the number of low, medium and high-intensity actions. The sample was made up of 99 players that played 6 matches with extra time in the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The results revealed that there is a loss in performance that goes from 15% to 20% with all the analyzed indicators when comparing the performance of the first half of the match to the extra time period. As an example, the number of meters per minute covered at high intensity is of 29.5, 24.19, and 23.61 in the first and second half, and in the extra time respectively. The total distance in the first half of the matches is 110.52 meters per minute and in the second half and in the extra time 97.12 and 98.76 respectively. The maximum speed goes from 26.72 km.h-1 in the first half to 24.06 km.h-1 in the extra time. The loss of performance is also similar in all positions.
The second research2 studied the influence the extra time has on the players’ performance in regard to the number of passes, shots, dribbles, and centring passes performed and their success rate. The sample was made up of 18 matches played in 2010 to 2014 by European elite teams. The matches were divided into 8 periods of 15 minutes (P1: 0-15 min. P2: 16-30 min. P3: 31-45 min. P4: 46-60 min. P5: 61-75 min. P6: 76-90 min. P7: 90-105 min. and P8: 106-120 min.). The results suggest that if we compare P8 to P1, the total number of passes (102 vs. 71) the percentage of successful passes (88 vs. 61) and the number of successful dribbles (72 vs. 64) are significantly lower. Also, the effective playing time is lower in P8 than in P1 (598 vs. 504 seconds). Not many differences were observed with the other indicators.
These two research papers suggest that a specific physical preparation to improve the team’s performance in the extra time should not be performed. Due to the limited number of matches in which extra time is played, it does not seem appropriate to prepare for this situation which takes place a few times. Most importantly, it can compromise the adaptation that allows performing better in the previous 90 minutes of the match. Coaches could use the substitutions to keep the team performance during the extra time or prepare the players to dominate different competition scenarios where they have to accelerate or slow down the pace of the game. A change in the regulation to allow extra substitutions in the matches where extra time is played would also be recommendable.
Carlos Lago Peñas
1 Lago-Peñas, C., Dellal, A., Owen, A.L. y Gómez-Ruano, M.A. (2015). The influence of the extra-time period on physical performance in elite soccer. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 15 (3), 830-839.
2 Harper, L.D., West, D.J., Stevenson, E. y Russell M. (2014). Technical performance reduces during the extra-time period of professional soccer match-play. PLoS One,24, e110995.
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