Speed, power and agility are important components of fitness and determine the level of success and performance in soccer. The aim of this study was to identify speed variables and to determine their mutual correlation and structure in youth elite soccer players. The research group consisted of players from the Czech U16 national team (n = 22, age = 15.6 ± 0.4 years). Speed variables were assessed using the following tests: a) linear speed: 5 m sprint (S5), 10 m sprint (S10) and 20 m flying sprint (F20); b) the agility: agility test 505 with turning on the dominant (A505D) and nondominant legs (A505N) and the K-test (K) and c) ball velocity after an instep kick with the dominant (IKD) and nondominant (IKN) legs. Significant dependence was found for S5 compared with S10, F20 vs. A505N, K vs. A505N (p < 0.01) and S10 vs. F20 (p < 0.05). The factor analysis revealed three components of the latent variable - speed. The first component consisted of linear sprint (S10, S20) and also partially consisted of maximum speed (F20). The second component was primarily composed of agility (A505D, A505N, K) and also included maximum speed (F20). The third independent component represented ball velocity after an instep kick (IKD, IKN). The speed variables in youth elite players exhibited significant heterogeneity from the perspective of performance, as determined by the monitored tests. The structure of the speed predisposition indicated that there were three components of speed. The results of our studies support the notion that each component of speed must be considered independently when designing training programmes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.