Introduction: There are four principles positions in soccer: goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards. Midfielders run longer distances than the others; defenders dribble shorter distances, whilst forwards perform significantly more sprints. These different performance requirements could be better achieved when supported by optimal physical characteristics. Accordingly, forwards are generally leaner than midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers and the muscle percentage is higher in the forwards compared to the midfielders and the goalkeepers.
These data are related to adults and adolescents, while up to now there are no data on pre-adolescent players. The purpose of the study is to verify if the anthropometric characteristics could influence the assignment of the position for soccer players aged 12 to 14 years.
Methods: We designed an observational study in order to measure the anthropometric parameters of 36 under-14 players: 11 defenders (DF); 13 midfielders (MF); 12 forwards (FW).
Results: We found that the DFs were the heaviest (58,6±7,9 kg) and tallest (165,7±7,8 cm) players and had the two greater measures (waist circumference: 71,4±7,0 cm; waist diameter: 74,5±5.1 cm). The FWs were the lightest (49,9±6,8 kg) and with the smallest waist (63,6±4,0 cm) and pelvis circumferences (67,6±4.7 cm), whilst the midfielders were the shortest (157,2±9,3 cm). All the players underwent three tests to measure the main physical capacities involved to soccer: sprint test, Nittoli skip test and Sargent jump test. No correlation emerged between the roles and physical performances.
Conclusion: In soccer players between 12 and 14 years old, we did not find any correlation between the position and physical performance. In this age group the assignment of the position of play is not yet influenced by the anthropometric characteristics of the player, probably because in these years the weight, height and body circumferences are rapidly changing. In the following years, when the constitutional characteristics are stabilized, they will be valorized and used as a starting point to optimize performances.
Level of evidence: IV.