Investigating Player Selection within UK Academy Soccer: The Application of Objective and Subjective Assessments in Detecting Talent

Richard James Kite, Mark Noon, Rhys Morris, Peter Mundy, Neil Clarke

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Talent selection and development in academy soccer is highly dependent on coach intuition. Given such reliance upon subjective inputs, a greater understanding towards the utility of coach intuition may prove invaluable. The present study investigated coach agreement, the associations between subjective and objective outcomes and prominent traits highlighted within player (de)selection. Academy players (n = 45, age = 14 ± 2yrs) and coaches (n = 10, age = 31 ± 5yrs) were recruited from a professional soccer academy. Objective assessments included tactical and psychological surveys, physical assessments (linear sprints, change of direction and jumping tasks) and performance analysis (performance assessment for team sports). Coach subjective player gradings were collected using a visual analogue scale aligned to the objective assessments. Lead and assistant coaches demonstrated poor-to-moderate agreements in perceived player skills (ICC = 0.48 to 0.76) and fair to almost perfect agreement in player (de)selection (ICC= 0.23-1.00, P <.001 to .26). However, coach agreement reduced as players aged. Likewise, a maturation related bias was present whereby biologically older players were selected over their lesser mature players. Moreover, coach intuition demonstrated a strong predictive capability to select players, whilst the study was incapable of distinguishing exclusive traits related to selection outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Education, Fitness and Sports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

The text of this article is open access and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • Physiology
  • Youth
  • Psychology
  • Technical/Tactical
  • Maturation
  • Talent Identification


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