Soccer players’ agility skills depending on their position on the field
Background: Soccer players, independent of positions, perform high-intensity movements such as agility for short periods and have longer periods of low-intensity and rest during a soccer game. Agility is considered to be dependent on perceptional and decision-making factors and physical factors related to changes in directions. Most research has displayed no differences in different preplanned agility test within playing positions. However, no studies have been done on reactive agility within different positions on the soccer field. Aim: The purpose of the study was to compare if soccer players ́ reactive – and preplanned agility performance differs between their positions in the team. The study will also examine the level of correlation between results from reactive agility and preplanned agility. Methods: Thirty male soccer players, 17-19 years old, were tested in reactive agility and preplanned agility. The subjects were divided into three groups depending on their playing position, including defenders (n=10), midfielders (n=10) and forwards (n=10). Mean scores for both agility tests were analyzed with a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the criterion level for significance was set at 5 % (p ≤ 0.05). Correlations were performed to study the relationship between reactive agility and preplanned agility. Following limits were used to determine the strength of the value of Pearson correlation; r=.10 to .29 small, r=.30 to .49 medium, r=.50 to 1.0 large. Results: No statistical significant differences between defenders, midfielders and forwards in neither reactive agility (p=0.624) or preplanned agility (p=0.481) were perceived. There was a small correlation (r=0.24) between all studied results from the reactive – and preplanned agility test. When positions were correlated within the two test, the highest correlation between reactive agility and preplanned agility was found in midfielders with a medium correlation (r=0.47) while small correlations appeared within defenders (r=0.28) and forwards (r=-0.11). Conclusions: The findings of this thesis showed no statistical significant differences between playing positions in reactive agility nor in preplanned agility. The impact of the soccer players’ integration with different soccer coaches could be an explanation to the reactive agility results where some coaches may focus on developing perceptual skills more than other coaches. The absence of differences in preplanned agility may suggest that the physical abilities needed to perform the Zig-Zag test did not differ among defenders, midfielders or forwards. It can also be suggested that reactive agility and preplanned agility are two independent variables who do not share characteristics. Future research should focus on incorporating a more valid reactive agility test for soccer players and study larger samples who are specialized in their positions.
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