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Children's Exercise Physiology

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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00596

Fundamental Motor Skills Mediate the Relationship between Physical Fitness and Soccer-Specific Motor Skills in Young Soccer Players

  • 1Charles University, Czechia
  • 2Department of Sport Games, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Czechia
  • 3University School of Physical Education in Wroclaw, Poland

Fundamental motor skills (FMS) are the basic building blocks of more complex, sport-specific skills and should be mastered at the end of early childhood; however, the relationship between the two has not yet been verified in prepubertal soccer players. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the role of FMS in a process of acquiring soccer-specific motor skills (measured using the speed dribbling) with regard to physical fitness and biological maturation. Forty soccer players (11.5 ± 0.3 years of age) at the highest performance level participated in the study. The role of FMS in a complex theoretical model with the relationships among physical fitness, biological maturation and speed dribbling was analyzed by multiple regression path analyses (MRPA). Moderate-to-strong correlations were found between FMS, physical fitness, and speed dribbling (r = 0.56 – 0.66). Moreover, biological maturation did not appear to be a significant predictor of physical fitness or speed dribbling. The MRPA model of physical fitness on speed dribbling with FMS as a mediator showed a significant indirect effect (standard estimation = -0.31, p = 0.001; R2 = 0.25). However, the direct correlation between physical fitness and speed dribbling was nonsignificant. Our results showed that FMS significantly strengthened the influence of physical fitness on the performance of speed dribbling, a soccer-specific motor skill, and thus played an important role in the process of the acquisition of sport-specific motor skills in prepubertal soccer players. Therefore, when considering the long-term training process, especially during childhood and before puberty, a wide range of FMS activities should be applied for better and possibly faster acquisition of soccer-specific motor skills.

Keywords: pre-pubescence, Soccer, Skills, talent development, performance

Received: 01 Mar 2019; Accepted: 26 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Filipe M. Clemente, Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Reviewed by:

Ricardo F. Lima, Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Mustafa Söğüt, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Kırıkkale University, Turkey  

Copyright: © 2019 Kokštejn, Musalek, Wolanski, Murawska-Cialowicz and Stastny. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jakub Kokštejn, Charles University, Prague, Czechia,