An international team of researchers from the University of Madeira and the University of Lisbon (Portugal) conducted a study at the Marítimo Training Lab – Cristiano Ronaldo’s first club – to improve the performance of young footballers. The project focuses on young people aged 13 to 16 and finds a relationship between balance, body composition and fitness.
We have identified a gap in the study of balance performance in young footballers, a decisive ability to improve techniques such as dribbling, passing and positioning between opponents.”
Cíntia França, researcher, Institute of Interactive Technologies of the Instituto Superior Técnico
Researchers have found strong relationships between young athletes’ balance ability and body fat percentage: the higher the percentage, the worse the athletes’ performance in balance tasks. On the other hand, strength training and flexibility of athletes contribute positively to superior balance performance.
Therefore, the research team recommends that balanced training in football, especially for young athletes, should be encouraged along with other exercises. “Sports agents should consider including exercises that focus on building fitness and strength in the training process. In addition, monitoring body composition, especially body fat percentage, is essential. to avoid its negative effect on physical performance”, adds Cíntia França.
To understand the impacts of the proposed methodology, the team has already defined monitoring plans. “The goal is to follow these young footballers longitudinally, studying their progress in body composition and physical fitness, to understand the effects of long-term training,” concludes the researcher.
This research was carried out as part of the Marítimo Training Lab project, which aims to develop a high-performance training center for the Marítimo da Madeira football club. In addition to Portuguese institutions, the study also included the collaboration of researchers from research institutions in Brazil, Switzerland and Poland.
Institute of Interactive Technologies