The confounding effect of biological maturity on talent identification and selection within youth Australian football

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Science and Medicine in Football, 2021, 5, (4), pp. 263-271
Issue Date:
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This study measured the influence of biological maturity across numerous performance parameters for talent identification in Australian football. Anthropometry, estimated maturity status using a maturity ratio from anthropometric measurements and chronological age, motor competence, physical fitness and small-sided match involvements of 227 U13-U15 high-level academy athletes were assessed. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant moderate effects of maturity status on physical fitness (p = 0.008, ES = 0.07) and significant large effects on anthropometry (p = 0.001, ES = 0.20), but not on motor competence or match involvements. Univariate analyses of variance demonstrated significant large effects of maturity on anthropometry, but only one subset of physical fitness (i.e. lower-body power). U15 players selected into a U16 development programme were biologically older thandeselected players, despite selection being independent of maturity when a categorical descriptor was used. This study confirms that maturation affects anthropometry and certain measures of physical fitness in youth Australian football players, but not match involvements and motor competence. Furthermore, a player’s maturity could affect selection and progression into advanced academy programmes. Involvements and motor competence should be included in multidimensional assessment batteries for Australian Football as they appear less confounded by maturity than fitness and anthropometry.
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