The authors also wish to thank Rasit Yediveren for the valuable assistance during the data collection stage.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, especially in Europe. Soccer is characterized by numerous short, explosive exercise bursts interspersed with brief recovery periods over an extended period of time (90 minutes) (Meckel et al., 2009). Soccer performance, read more which depends on the technical skills and physical fitness of the players, is known to significantly influence match performance. The simultaneous use of both technical skills and fitness in soccer training would produce extremely effective performance (Little and Williams, 2007). Agility, acceleration, change of direction, deceleration, and sprinting are regarded as critical technical skills and the main components of soccer training.
The ability to sprint and to change direction while sprinting are determinants of performance in field sports, as evidenced by time and motion analysis (Sheppard and Young, 2006). In many sports, including soccer, athletes are required to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction throughout the game (Docherty et al., 1988). Often, these movements are performed in conjunction with passing, dribbling and striking movements (Abernethy and Russell, 1987; Farrow et al., 2005; Sheppard et al., 2006). Differences between higher and lower performers in anticipation and efficient decision making in accordance with sport-specific stimuli have also been mentioned in relevant literature (Abernethy and Russell, 1987; Tenenbaum et al., 1996; Farrow et al., 2005).
In soccer agility, anticipating the direction and timing of the ball are crucial issues for success (Sheppard et al., 2006). However, few studies have evaluated sport-specific, physical performance tests of agility, including sprints, changes of direction and striking at the goal. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate a novel test of agility and striking skill for soccer that involves sprint running, direction changing, and kicking stationary balls to the goal with accurate decision making. The classical T-drill agility test, developed by Semenick (1990), was implemented with four balls and the goal (Figure 1). Figure 1 A diagram and explanation of the new developed agility and skill test for soccer.
Material and Methods Subjects A total of 113 amateur (38) and professional (32) male soccer players from the Turkish League (Kirikkale-wide from Division 3 and 1st Amateurs) (mean �� SD: age: 21.2 �� 3 years; body height: 1.78 �� 5.4 m; body mass: 72.2 �� 8.2 kg; body fat: 12.2 �� 3.9 %; years of experience: 6.8 �� 2.43) and university Cilengitide students (43) volunteered to participate in this study. The study protocol and methods were approved by the local institutional ethics committee of the University of Kirikkale, and all subjects gave written informed consent prior to participation.