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Research Reviews

Characteristics of Youth Soccer Players Who Drop Out, Persist, or Move Up

Antonio J. Figueiredo, Carlos E. Goncalves, Manuel J. Coelho E Silva, and Robert M. Malina

The Big Idea

The customary belief about youth and sports is that the youngsters who drop out of youth sports are developmentally disadvantaged somehow when compared to those who succeed over time.  But a question immediately arises:  What is meant by developmental disadvantage?

The big idea of this research study is to help remove some of the mystery behind what kinds of differences between youngsters are or are not relatively predictive of longer term success in sport in general, and in soccer in particular.


  • For the most part, more research attention is given to figuring out why children in youth sports discontinue play than why they persist.
  • In this study the effort is to discover the elements of youth sport persistence over attrition.
  • There is relative agreement among coaches about what biological and behavioral characteristics make for a successful soccer player.
  • These characteristics include such things as body physique, body composition, speed and power, motivation, attention, elemental skills, and so on.
  • But potential...

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