Skill assessments in youth soccer: A scoping review

William McCalman, Zachary J. Crowley-McHattan, Job Fransen, Kyle J.M. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Talent identification in youth soccer is a complex decision-making process that requires selectors to judge an individual’s future potential. While there has been considerable research into the performance characteristics of talented players, investigators have limited consensus on the best approach to assess soccer skills. Most of the research explains why we should measure skill instead of how we go about assessing skill. Therefore, the current scoping review aimed to synthesize and analyse skill assessments in youth soccer. Four electronic databases (EBSCO, ProQuest, PubMed, and Scopus) were searched for relevant studies. Information regarding the sample characteristics and methodological design of the skill assessments were extracted, synthesised, and presented in a qualitative analysis. Overall, 226 skill assessments were used across the 93 included studies. Male players from different ages (U/7-U/23) and playing levels comprised most (89%) of the collective sample. The majority of assessments were performed in settings not representative of football match-play (68%), focused on offensive skills (99%), and included skill outcome measures (95%). The variability of assessments highlights some confusion about the best way to assess soccer skill, potentially limiting selectors ability to identify skilful players. Ultimately, this will impact the number of quality players within the talent pool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-695
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number6
Early online date30 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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