1st Edition

Science and Football Identifying and Developing Talent

Edited By A. Mark Williams Copyright 2023

    This book presents a state-of-the-art overview of the science underpinning talent identification and development in the world’s most popular sport. It covers a broad range of topics that span the various sub-disciplines of sports science with contributions from some of the foremost scientists and applied practitioners globally. The chapters provide readers with a comprehensive insight into how sport science is helping practitioners to create more evidence-based approaches when attempting to identify and develop future generations of elite players rather than relying on tradition and precedence. This book dispels some of the myths involved in talent identification and highlights how science is playing an ever-increasing role in guiding and shaping the practices used at the most renowned professional clubs across the globe. It is a must-read for anyone involved in the game at any level including sports scientists, medical staff, coaches, and administrators. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Sports Sciences.

    Introduction—Talent identification and development in soccer: An update and contemporary perspectives

    A. Mark Williams

    1. Talent identification and development in soccer since the millennium

    A. Mark Williams, Paul R. Ford and Barry Drust

    2. Identifying playing talent in professional football using artificial neural networks

    Donald Barron, Graham Ball, Matthew Robins and Caroline Sunderland

    3. Evaluation of soccer players under the Moneyball concept

    Luiz Octávio Gavião, Annibal Parracho Sant’Anna, Gilson Brito Alves Lima and Pauli Adriano de Almada Garcia

    4. Defining the attributes for specific playing positions in football match-play: A complex systems approach

    Elise Berber, Scott McLean, Vanessa Beanland, Gemma J. M. Read and Paul M. Salmon

    5. A bioecological perspective on talent identification in junior-elite soccer: A Pan-European perspective

    Matthew J. Reeves and Simon J. Roberts

    6. A survey of talent identification and development processes in the youth academies of professional soccer clubs from around the world

    Paul R. Ford, Juan Luis Delgado Bordonau, Daniele Bonanno, José Tavares, Corne Groenendijk, Cristina Fink, Domenico Gualtieri, Warren Gregson, Matthew C. Varley, Matthew Weston, Lorenzo Lolli, David Platt and Valter Di Salvo

    7. Change-of-direction, speed and jump performance in soccer players: a comparison across different age-categories

    Irineu Loturco, Ian Jeffreys, César C. Cal Abad, Ronaldo Kobal, Vinicius Zanetti, Lucas A. Pereira and Sophia Nimphius

    8. Maturity status effects on torque and muscle architecture of young soccer players

    Giovani dos Santos Cunha, Marco Aurélio Vaz, Walter Herzog, Jeam Marcel Geremia, Gabriela Tomedi Leites and Álvaro Reischak-Oliveira

    9. Comparing the magnitude and direction of asymmetry during the squat, countermovement and drop jump tests in elite youth female soccer players

    Chris Bishop, Lucas A. Pereira, Valter P. Reis, Paul Read, Anthony N. Turner and Irineu Loturco

    10. A case study comparison of objective and subjective evaluation methods of physical qualities in youth soccer players

    James H. Dugdale, Dajo Sanders, Tony Myers, A. Mark Williams and Angus M. Hunter

    11. High-intensity endurance capacity assessment as a tool for talent identification in elite youth female soccer

    Naomi Datson, Matthew Weston, Barry Drust, Warren Gregson and Lorenzo Lolli

    12. New curve sprint test for soccer players: Reliability and relationship with linear sprint

    Alberto Fílter, Jesús Olivares, Alfredo Santalla, Fabio Y. Nakamura, Irineu Loturco and Bernardo Requena

    13. Cross-sectional comparison of body composition and resting metabolic rate in Premier League academy soccer players: Implications for growth and maturation

    Marcus P. Hannon, Daniel J. Carney, Stephen Floyd, Lloyd J. F. Parker, John McKeown, Barry Drust, Viswanath B. Unnithan, Graeme L. Close and James P. Morton

    14. Biomechanical mechanisms of jumping performance in youth elite female soccer players

    Nathalie M. J. Jeras, Thamar J. H. Bovend’Eerdt and Christopher McCrum

    15. The adolescent motor performance development of elite female soccer players: A study of prognostic relevance for future success in adulthood using multilevel modelling

    Daniel Leyhr, Johannes Raabe, Florian Schultz, Augustin Kelava and Oliver Höner

    16. Hill on a mountaintop: A longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis of the relative age effect in competitive youth football

    Robin C. Jackson and Gavin Comber

    17. Relative age and maturation selection biases in academy football

    Megan Hill, Sam Scott, Robert M Malina, Darragh McGee and Sean P Cumming

    18. Longitudinal emotional process among adolescent soccer player in intensive training centre

    Yohan Saby, Yann Pupier, Emma Guillet-Descas, Michel Nicolas and Guillaume Martinent

    19. Psychological characteristics of developing excellence in elite youth football players in English professional academies

    Chris Saward, John G. Morris, Mary E. Nevill, Antoinette M. Minniti and Caroline Sunderland

    20. Psychosocial outcomes associated with soccer academy involvement: Longitudinal comparisons against aged matched school pupils

    Fieke Rongen, Jim McKenna, Stephen Cobley, Jason Cameron Tee and Kevin Till

    21. Positive youth development and gender differences in high performance sport

    Donna O’Connor, Lauren Gardner, Paul Larkin, Alun Pope and A. Mark Williams

    22. Training load and submaximal heart rate testing throughout a competitive period in a top-level male football team

    Vincenzo Rago, Peter Krustrup, Rafael Martín-Acero, António Rebelo and Magni Mohr

    23. Power training in elite young soccer players: Effects of using loads above or below the optimum power zone

    Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Valter P. Reis, Chris Bishop, Vinicius Zanetti, Pedro E. Alcaraz, Tomás T. Freitas and Michael R. Mcguigan

    24. Comparative efficacy of active recovery and cold water immersion as post-match recovery interventions in elite youth soccer

    Sam Pooley, Owen Spendiff, Matt Allen and Hannah Jayne Moir

    25. The developmental and professional activities of female international soccer players from five high-performing nations

    Paul R. Ford, Nicola J. Hodges, David Broadbent, Donna O’Connor, Dawn Scott, Naomi Datson, Helena A. Andersson and A. Mark Williams

    26. Evaluating the impact of a coach development intervention for improving coaching practices in junior football (soccer): The "MASTER" pilot study

    Narelle Eather, Brad Jones, Andrew Miller and Philip J. Morgan

    27. Efficacy of using non-linear pedagogy to support attacking players’ individual learning objectives in elite-youth football: A randomised cross-over trial

    Simon J. Roberts, James R. Rudd and Matthew J. Reeves

    28. How does the modern football goalkeeper train? – An exploration of expert goalkeeper coaches’ skill training approaches

    Fabian W. Otte, Sarah-Kate Millar and Stefanie Klatt


    A. Mark Williams is a highly-cited and world-renowned sports scientist. He is Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition and a Visiting Professor at several prominent universities in the US and UK. He has published over 300 journal articles and 19 books focusing on the science underpinning how best to identify and develop talent in sport.