In today’s leading football training centres, state-of-the-art performance diagnostic systems such as the “Footbonaut” allow controlled and standardized assessments of physical and mental components of agility, e.g. speed of action and ball control, that are considered to be decisive for talent identification and development. However, effects of induced physical and mental strain on performing football-specific practice patterns remain to be elucidated, particularly in youth players, and, thus, characterize the purpose of this study. 33 randomly assigned competitive football players (U14 to U16) performed a standardized Footbonaut practice pattern (i.e. 20 balls randomly drawn at 50 km/h each), prior to and immediately after either mentally demanding tasks (MDT; n = 11; continuous Vienna Test System’s Stroop task and determination test), physically demanding tasks (PDT; n = 11; consisted of 4 × 4 min of football-specific high-intensity intervals with 3 min of active recovery in between) or a control condition (CON; n = 11). Continuous heart rates (HR) as well as self-perceptions of fatigue were assessed. Main findings revealed performances for speed of action (p = 0.44; f = 0.01) and ball control (p = 0.15; f = 0.03) that were not modulated in the face of induced physical and mental strain as indicated by increased HR following PDT (p < 0.001; d > 0.8), or in the face of increased self-perceptions of fatigue following PDT and MDT (both p < 0.001; both d > 0.8) compared to CON. This is in line with a suggested talent factor and previous reports on motivational trade-off aspects in youth players. However, the present study’s short-timed practice patterns make it difficult to reliably compare a measuring sensitivity to complex football-specific movement behavioural and technical proficiencies with respect to mental and physical strain of longer-lasting football games and, thus, need further investigation in favour of improving talent identification and development using the Footbonaut.
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