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Assessing and Monitoring Technical Performance in Youth Football Players: Design and Validation of the Technical Performance Assessment (TEEM)

Macfarlane, S (2022) Assessing and Monitoring Technical Performance in Youth Football Players: Design and Validation of the Technical Performance Assessment (TEEM). Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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An important component in many modern professional football clubs is their academy structure. Professional football clubs invest substantial amounts of revenue into their academies to discover and develop potential talents which possess the necessary attributes to succeed in the first team or beyond. One important aspect in talent identification and development (TiD) is the assessment and monitoring of technical performance. Research investigating technical performance has been somewhat under-represented compared to other aspects of performance. In recent years, modern technology has facilitated the data collection process at the professional level and now there exists an abundance of data relating to player and team technical performance. However, despite the availability of this data at the professional level, this technology has not yet filtered down to most academy levels due to financial and operational constraints. Traditionally, the player appraisal and evaluation processes are subjective in nature, (i.e., at the academy level) and are predicated on the subjective opinion of coaches with little or no objective data to support their assessment. The availability of objective technical data would provide a more data-driven and in-depth assessment to support subjective coach opinion and in turn aid player development. To date, no ‘gold standard’ method of assessing technical performance in youth footballers has been globally accepted. This thesis therefore aims to develop a contextually relevant, valid and reliable tool for assessing and monitoring technical performance in youth football players, which will offer a contribution to the field to enhance our understanding. Study 1 (chapter 3) attempts to establish content validity of the Technical Performance Assessment (TEEM) and provide a framework for tool design. This study aimed to determine what technical attributes were perceived to be most important for success at the elite level. The study adopted a qualitative Delphi method which required data collection by means of multiple rounds of questionnaires. Following each round, responses from participants was filtered down, summarised and presented back. This cycle was repeated until consensus was reached between participants. Participants in this study were the most highly qualified and experienced coaches from a Scottish Premier League academy. The next stage of this study involved designing a contextually relevant tool based on the results of the Delphi process and by adapting and applying various components of previously developed assessment tools. Study 2 (chapter 4) involved establishing the measurement properties for tool validation. This study attempted to establish inter- and intra-observer reliability, test/retest reliability, typical 6 error (TE) and the smallest worthwhile change (SWC). The purpose of this study was to test the TEEM’s reliability and establish associated measurement error to facilitate the interpretation of ‘true’ changes in performance. Results revealed moderate to good reliability in 2 of the 4 selected key performance indicators (KPIs), poor reliability in 2 of the 4 selected KPIs and a wide variation of reliability strengths in sub-contexts of these KPIs. Study 3 (chapter 5) involved establishing criterion-based validity. This study used a correlation analysis to investigate the relationship between performance in the TEEM protocol and performance in competition. Results revealed trivial-strong correlations in the four main KPIs with a wide range of correlation strengths in the sub-contexts of these KPIs. Study 4 (chapter 6) aimed to establish the tools sensitivity to longitudinally monitor changes in performance over time and explore the influence of maturation on performance. This study involved measuring performance in the newly developed TEEM over a period of 12 months. Furthermore, the study compared differences in performance between players at different stages of biological maturation. Results revealed that the TEEM lacked the sensitivity to identify changes in performance over a 12-month period. However, results revealed that stage of maturation was a significant predictor of performance and discriminated between players at earlier stages of maturation compared with players at later stages of maturation. In summary, the results presented throughout this thesis demonstrate the difficulty and complexity of monitoring technical performance in football. Due to the random and unpredictable nature of the game, technical performance is associated with substantial variation between observations. The TEEM developed in this study offers one possibility for assessing skill proficiency which can be easily applied within an academy environment. For its ease of application, feasibility and ability to discriminate between players of stages of maturation, the TEEM offer’s a welcome addition to a club’s assessment protocol where there is often very little or no objective data to support coach opinion, however, the tools limitations must be taken into consideration prior to administration. In addition to the research carried out throughout this thesis, individual professional aims were outlined at the beginning of the process and the journey through which these aims were achieved is intertwined throughout. The professional doctorate process enabled simultaneous researcher and practitioner development which was invaluable for professional development.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: performance analysis; talent identification; talent development; small sided games; assessment; technical performance
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2022 11:19
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 15:47
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00016545
Supervisors: McRobert, A and Roberts, S
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16545
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