1st Edition

Talent Identification and Development in Youth Soccer A Guide for Researchers and Practitioners

Edited By Adam Kelly Copyright 2024
    388 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    388 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Talent development pathways in youth soccer provide opportunities for young players to realise their potential. Such programmes have become increasingly popular throughout governing bodies, professional clubs, and independent organisations. This has coincided with a rapid rise in sport science literature focused specifically on optimising player development towards expertise.

    However, the decreasing age of recruitment, biases in selection, inconsistencies in the language used, underrepresented populations, and large dropout rates from pathways have magnified the potential flaws of existing organisational structures and settings. Moreover, despite both the professionalisation of talent development pathways and growing research attention, we still know little about the characteristics that facilitate accurate recruitment strategies into pathways and long-term development outcomes.

    Talent Identification and Development in Youth Soccer provides an all-encompassing guide for both researchers and practitioners by gathering the existing literature to help better understand the current context of this discipline. Chapters are contributed by a team of leading and emerging international experts, examining topics such as technical, tactical, physical, psychological, social, activities and trajectories, career transitions, relative age effects, creativity, and genetics, with each chapter offering important considerations for both researchers and practitioners.

    With a dual emphasis on both theory and practice, this book is an important text for any student, researcher, coach, or practitioner with an interest in talent identification, talent development, youth soccer, soccer coaching, or expertise and skill acquisition.

    1. Disciplinary Approaches and Chapter Summaries:

    Introducing Talent Identification and Development in Youth Soccer

    Adam L. Kelly


    2. Technical:

    Examining Subjective and Objective Performance Parameters that Contribute Towards Developmental Outcomes and Career Progression

    Adam L. Kelly, Jan Verbeek, James H. Dugdale, and Matthew J. Reeves


    3. Tactical:

    Measuring and Developing Tactical Knowledge and Performance in Youth Soccer Players

    Adam L. Kelly, Mark R. Wilson, and Greg Wood


    4. Physical:

    Considering the Influence of Maturity Status on Physical Performance

    John M. Radnor, Adam L. Kelly, Craig A. Williams, and Jon L. Oliver


    5. Psychological:

    Supporting Psychosocial Growth, Development, and Potential Challenges Experienced in Youth Soccer

    James H. Dugdale, Alban C. S. Dickson, Alex Murata, Adam L. Kelly, and Kacey C. Neely


    6. Social:

    Investigating Social Influences on Talent and Development in Soccer

    Colin D. McLaren, Mark W. Bruner, Luc J. Martin, Adam L. Kelly, Achuthan Shanmugaratnam, and Mathieu Simard


    7. Sociocultural:

    Reflecting on the Social and Cultural Influences on Talent in Soccer

    Matthew J. Reeves, Simon J. Roberts, and Adam L. Kelly


    8. Activities and Trajectories:

    Exploring Pathways of Athlete Development in Youth Soccer

    Alex Murata, Alexander B. T. McAuley, Matthew P. Ferguson, Martin R. Toms, and Adam L. Kelly


    9. Career Transitions:

    Navigating Players from Youth Team to First Team

    Sofie Kent, Robert Morris, and Adam L. Kelly


    10. Relative Age Effects:

    Looking Back and Moving Forward

    Adam L. Kelly, Laura Finnegan, Kevin Till, and Kristy L. Smith


    11. Playing-Up and Playing-Down:

    Conceptualising a ‘Flexible Chronological Approach’

    Adam L. Kelly, Daniel E. Goldman, Jean Côté, and Jennifer Turnnidge


    12. Creativity:

    Creating Supportive and Enriching Environments

    Sara Santos, Diogo Coutinho, Adam L. Kelly, Sergio L. Jiménez Sáiz, Alberto Lorenzo Calvo, and Jaime Sampaio


    13. Transformational Coaching:

    Developing a Global Rating Scale to Observe Coach Leadership Behaviours

    Jordan S. Lefebvre, Adam L. Kelly, Jean Côté, and Jennifer Turnnidge


    14. Genetics:

    Understanding the Influence and Application of Genetics in Soccer

    Alexander B. T. McAuley, Joseph Baker, Bruce Suraci, and Adam L. Kelly


    15. Nutrition:

    Optimising Development and Performance Through Nutrition

    Matthew North, Adam L. Kelly, Jennie Carter, Lewis Gough, and Matthew Cole


    16. International Perspectives:

    Evaluating Male Talent Pathways from Across the Globe

    Adam L. Kelly, Chris Eveleigh, Fynn Bergmann, Oliver Höner, Kevin Braybrook, Durva Vahia, Laura Finnegan, Stephen Finn, Jan Verbeek, Laura Jonker, Matthew P. Ferguson, and James H. Dugdale


    17. Gender:

    Disentangling Talent Identification and Development in Women’s and Girls’ Soccer

    Stacey Emmonds, Adam Gledhill, Adam L. Kelly, and Matthew Wright


    18. Para-Soccer:

    Emphasising the Complex and Multidimensional Factors When Identifying and Developing Players with Disabilities

    John W. Francis, Dave Sims, Adam Bendall, Adam L. Kelly, and Andrew Wood


    19. The Goalkeeper:

    Highlighting the Position Data Gap in Talent Identification and Development

    Durva Vahia and Adam L. Kelly


    20. Language Games:

    Improving the Words We Use in Soccer Research and Practice

    Joseph Baker, Adam L. Kelly, Alexander B. T. McAuley, and Nick Wattie


    21. The COVID-19 Pandemic:

    Rethinking Directions for Talent Development in Youth Soccer

    Alysha D. Matthews, Meredith M. Wekesser, Karl Erickson, Scott Pierce, and Adam L. Kelly


    22. From Knowledge to Action:

    Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice in Youth Soccer

    Adam L. Kelly and Jennifer Turnnidge



    Adam L. Kelly, PhD, is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Sports Coaching and Physical Education at Birmingham City University, United Kingdom. Alongside attaining his PhD at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, Adam is Senior Fellow of the HEA, BASES Sport and Exercise Scientist, and FA UEFA A and AYA Licenced Coach. Broadly, his research interests explore organisational structures in youth sport to better understand the athlete development process and to create more appropriate settings. He is currently collaborating with a number of regional, national, and international organisations across a range of sports, including cricket, rugby, soccer, squash, and swimming.