Relative age, biological maturation and anaerobic characteristics in elite youth soccer players

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013, 34 (10), pp. 897 - 903
Issue Date:
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Being relatively older and having an advanced biological maturation status have been associated with increased likelihood of selection in young elite soccer players. The aims of the study were to investigate the presence of a relative age effect (RAE) and the influence of birth quarter on anthropometry, biological maturity and anaerobic parameters in 374 elite Belgian youth soccer players. The sample was divided into 3 age groups, each subdivided into 4 birth quarters (BQ). Players had their APHV estimated and height, weight, SBJ, CMJ, sprint 5 and 30 m were assessed. Overall, more players were born in BQ1 (42.3%) compared with players born in BQ4 (13.7%). Further, MANCOVA revealed no differences in all parameters between the 4 BQ's, controlled for age and APHV. These results suggest that relatively youngest players can offset the RAE if they enter puberty earlier. Furthermore, the results demonstrated possible differences between BQ1 and BQ4, suggesting that caution is necessary when estimating differences between players because of large discrepancies between statistical and practical significance. These findings also show that coaches should develop realistic expectations of the physical abilities of younger players and these expectations should be made in the context of biological characteristics rather than chronological age-based standards. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart. New York.
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