Selection biases within an English football academy: implications of the Elite Player Performance Plan
AbstractThe Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was introduced in 2011 in order to enhance the youth football academy system in England. Previous literature demonstrates that relative age and biological maturation are responsible for selection biases within youth football, where both factors exert an influence on anthropometry and physical performances. However, there is limited research that has examined the aforementioned factors over a prolonged period of time, and especially within academies operating under the EPPP. Therefore, the general aim of this thesis was to investigate relative age, biological maturity, anthropometric and physical performance characteristics of male youth players from an English football club, as they progressed through the developmental pathway, under the EPPP framework. The findings from Chapter 3 revealed that selection within the investigated club was heavily overrepresented by relatively older and earlier maturing players, and this persisted since the EPPP was introduced. Subsequently, Chapter 4 identified that biological maturity, anthropometry and physical performances distinguished players that were retained across the developmental pathway, in an age group dependent manner. Chapter 5 provided estimates for when the development of anthropometric and physical performance characteristics initiate, peak and plateau, according to somatic maturity. Finally, Chapter 6 demonstrated that a bio-banding intervention may influence the decision-making process adopted by academy coaches’ regarding player selection and retention. In summary, the investigations conducted within this thesis provide novel and contemporary knowledge that can be used to enhance practice within the current club. Specifically, the findings from this thesis highlight that relative age, biological maturity, anthropometry and physical performances influence player selection and retention within this academy, suggesting that policies (e.g. the EPPP) require careful evaluation so that inappropriate selection biases can be nullified. Further studies are required to corroborate and extend these findings on a wider scale through robust methodological approaches.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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