Impact of game format and age group on technical performance in youth football A comprehensive analysis

Main Article Content

Ângelo Brito
Luís Freitas


This study aimed to analyse technical action variations among 5, 7, 9, and 11-a-side game formats and investigate the effects of age groups (U8, U10, U12, and U14) on these actions. A total of 197 soccer players aged between 6.94 ± 0.7 and 13.46 ± 0.5 years participated, with three matches conducted weekly, totalling 48 matches. Two-way ANOVA was employed to analyse age group and game format as independent factors. The study revealed the influence of age group on players' technical actions variability: front pass success p < .001; side pass success p < .001; back pass success p < .001; short pass success p < .001; reception success p < .001; goal p < .002; unsuccessful short pass p < .001; unsuccessful long pass p < .001; ball contacts p < .001. Additionally, the study highlighted the impact of game format on success rates: front pass success p < .001; side pass success p < .001; back pass success p < .001; short pass success p < .001; reception success p < .001; goal p < .036; shot on target p < .001; ball contacts p < .001; interception p < .001. These findings enhance understanding of how game format and age group affect technical performance in youth soccer, emphasizing the need for interventions that optimize players’ development trajectories.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Brito, Ângelo, & Freitas, L. (2024). Impact of game format and age group on technical performance in youth football: A comprehensive analysis. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise , 19(3), 901-914.
Performance Analysis of Sport
Author Biographies

Ângelo Brito, University of Lisbon

Faculty of Human Motricity.

Luís Freitas, University of Lisbon

Faculty of Human Motricity.

How to Cite

Brito, Ângelo, & Freitas, L. (2024). Impact of game format and age group on technical performance in youth football: A comprehensive analysis. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise , 19(3), 901-914.


Amatria, M., Lapresa, D., Arana, J., Anguera, M. T., & Garzón, B. (2016). Optimization of Game Formats in U-10 Soccer Using Logistic Regression Analysis. Journal of Human Kinetics, 54(1), 163-171.

Ben Teune, Carl Woods, Alice Sweeting, Mathew Inness & Sam Robertson (2022) The influence of environmental and task constraint interaction on skilled behaviour in Australian Football, European Journal of Sport Science, 22:8, 1268-1275.

Bergmann, F., Braksiek, M., & Meier, C. (2022). The influence of different game formats on technical actions and playing time parameters - A study with under-7 and under-9 soccer players in a competitive context. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 17(5) 1089-1100.

Brito, Â., Roriz, P., Duarte, R., & Garganta, J. (2018). Match-running performance of young soccer players in different game formats. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 18(3), 410-422.

Clemente, F., Couceiro, M., Martins, F., & Mendes, R. (2012). Team's performance on FIFA U17 World Cup 2011: Study based on notational analysis. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 12(1), 13.

Clemente F. M., Chen Y-S, Bezerra J. P., Guiomar J., & Lima R. (2018). between-format differences and variability of technical actions during small-sided soccer games played by young players. Human Movement, 19(5)special/issue:114-120.

Clemente, F., & Sarmento, H. (2020). The effects of small-sided soccer games on technical actions and skills: A systematic review. Human Movement, 21(3), 100-119.

Clemente, F. M., Praça, G. M., Aquino, R., Castillo, D., Raya-González, J., Rico-González, M., Afonso, J., Sarmento, H., Silva, A. F., Silva, R., & Ramirez-Campillo, R. (2023). Effects of pitch size on soccer players' physiological, physical, technical, and tactical responses during small-sided games: a meta-analytical comparison. Biology of Sport, 40(1), 111-147.

Coutinho, D., Gonçalves, B., Travassos, B., Folgado, H., Figueira, B., & Sampaio, J. (2020). Different Marks in the Pitch Constraint Youth Players' Performances during Football Small-Sided Games. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 91(1), 15-23.

Fenoglio, R. (2004). The Manchester United 4 v 4 pilot scheme for U9's-Part II. The analysis. Insight: The FA Coaches Association Journal, 6, 21-24.

Figueiredo, A. J., Coelho-e-Silva, M. J., Cumming, S. P., & Malina, R. M. (2019). Relative age effect: Characteristics of youth soccer players by birth quarter and subsequent playing status. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(6), 677-684.

Figueiredo, A. J., Coelho-e-Silva, M. J., Sarmento, H., Moya, J., & Malina, R. M. (2020). Adolescent characteristics of youth soccer players: do they vary with playing status in young adulthood? Research in Sports Medicine (Print), 28(1), 72-83.

Ford, P., Carling, C., Garces, M., Marques, M., Miguel, C., Farrant, A., Stenling, A., Moreno, J., Le Gall, F., Holmström, S., Salmela, J., & Williams, M. (2012). The developmental activities of elite soccer players aged under-16 years from Brazil, England, France, Ghana, Mexico, Portugal and Sweden. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(15), 1653-1663.

García-Angulo, A., Palao, J. M., Giménez-Egido, J. M., García-Angulo, F. J., & Ortega-Toro, E. (2020). Effect of the Modification of the Number of Players, the Size of the Goal, and the Size of the Field in Competition on the Play Actions in U-12 Male Football. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2).

García-Angulo, A., Ortega-Toro, E., Giménez-Egido, J. M., Olmedilla, A., García-Mas, A., & Manuel Palao, J. (2021). Does Youth Soccer Players' Group Cooperation Improve when Pitch, Goal, and Team Size Are Reduced? Journal of Human Kinetics, 78(1), 151-160.

Heuvelmans, P., Di Paolo, S., Benjaminse, A., Bragonzoni, L., & Gokeler, A. (2024). Relationships Between Task Constraints, Visual Constraints, Joint Coordination and Football-Specific Performance in Talented Youth Athletes: An Ecological Dynamics Approach. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 131(1), 161-176.

Hill, B., & Green, B. C. (2008). Give the Bench the Boot! Using Manning Theory to Design Youth-Sport Programs. Journal of Sport Management, 22(2), 184-204.

Hill-Haas, S., Rowsell, G., Coutts, A., & Dawson, B. (2008). The Reproducibility of Physiological Responses and Performance Profiles of Youth Soccer Players in Small-Sided Games. International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance, 3(3), 393-396.

Hintermann, M., Born, D.-P., Fuchslocher, J., Kern, R., & Romann, M. (2021). How to improve technical and tactical actions of dominant and non-dominant players in children's football? PLoS ONE, 16(7), 1-13.

Hopkins, W., Marshall, S., Batterham, A., & Hanin, J. (2009). Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(1):3-13.

Huijgen, B. C. H., Elferink-Gemser, M. T., Lemmink, K. A. P. M., & Visscher, C. (2014). Multidimensional performance characteristics in selected and deselected talented soccer players. European Journal of Sport Science, 14(1), 2-10.

James, N. (2006). Notational analysis in soccer: Past, present and future. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 6(2), 67-81.

Joo, C. H., Hwang-Bo, K., & Jee, H. (2016). Technical and Physical Activities of Small-Sided Games in Young Korean Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(8), 2164-2173.

Julen Castellano, Asier Puente, Ibon Echeazarra, Oidui Usabiaga, & David Casamichana. (2016). Number of Players and Relative Pitch Area per Player: Comparing Their Influence on Heart Rate and Physical Demands in Under-12 and Under-13 Football Players. PLoS ONE, 11(1), e0127505.

Kelly, A., Wilson, M. R., Jackson, D. T., & Williams, C. A. (2020). Technical testing and match analysis statistics as part of the talent development process in an English football academy. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 20(6), 1035-1051.

Lapresa Ajamil, D., Arana Idiakez, J., Amatria Jiménez, M., Fernández Alejandro, F. J., & Teresa Anguera, M. (2017). Fútbol: efectos de una unidad didáctica en la iniciación temprana. Apunts: Educación Física y Deportes, 127, 59-67.

Lemes, J., Luchesi, M., Diniz, L., Bredt, S., Chagas, M., & Praça, G. (2020). Influence of pitch size and age category on the physical and physiological responses of young football players during small-sided games using GPS devices. Research in Sports Medicine (Print), 28(2), 206-216.

Machado, J. C., Ribeiro, J., Palheta, C. E., Alcântara, C., Barreira, D., Guilherme, J., Garganta, J., & Scaglia, A. J. (2019). Changing Rules and Configurations During Soccer Small-Sided and Conditioned Games. How Does It Impact Teams' Tactical Behavior? Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1554.

Martone, D., Giacobbe, M., Capobianco, A., Imperlini, E., Mancini, A., Capasso, M., Buono, P., & Orrù, S. (2017). Exercise Intensity and Technical Demands of Small-Sided Soccer Games for Under-12 and Under-14 Players: Effect of Area per Player. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(6), 1486-1492.

Memmert, D., & Roth, K. (2007). The effects of non-specific and specific concepts on tactical creativity in team ball sports. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25(12), 1423-1432.

Serra-Olivares, J., García López, L. M., & Gonçalves, B. (2019). Effects of the players' level and age group category on positional tactical behaviour during 7- and 8-a-side football youth games. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 19(2), 236-247.

Silva, P., Aguiar. P., Duarte. R., Davids. K., Araújo. D., Garganta. J. (2014). Effects of pitch size and skill level on tactical behaviours of association football players during small-sided and conditioned games. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 9(5): 993-1006.

Tom De Joode. (2023). The manipulation of task constraints and the effect on creative performance of youth soccer players. Current Issues in Sport Science, 8(2).

Williams, A. M., & Hodges, N. J. (2005). Practice, instruction and skill acquisition in soccer: Challenging tradition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23(6), 637-650.

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.