Children & Relative Age Effect

girl rock climbing

Alyssa Bialowas

Relative Age Effect is the bias that athletes at the top level of their sport are older, and were born in months earlier in their sports relative cut-off period. For instance, a hockey player born in January of the same year as a hockey player born in December is almost a whole year older, and arguably more biologically, physically and emotionally mature. Research has widely concluded that athletes born earlier have a higher chance of success when it comes to sport, as they will be competing against others who are much younger but born in the same year.

Older athletes tend to be over-represented in sports where there is a talent selection process, which means the system lacks fairness and an overall acknowledgment that younger children are often less biologically mature and should be given an equal chance.

 

Study

family runningTo examine Relative Age Effect in children, Müller, Hildebrandt and Raschner (2017) studied young athletes at the 7th International Children’s Winter Games in 2016. The study looked at 572 participants (365 males and 207 females) from 22 different countries ranging from 12.1 to 15.0 years. Three birth years (2001 to 2003) and birth months were used to establish twelve groups of relative age quartiles, and the participants were divided into three maturity groups: late, normal and early maturing.

Related Article: FUNtervals – Exercise Intervals For Children

The different sports were also divided into three types – strength-, endurance-, and technique-related sports. Alpine skiing and hockey were categorized as strength-related; biathlon, cross-country skiing and speed skating were categorized as endurance-related; and figure skating, snowboarding and freestyle skiing were categorized as technique-related.

 

Results

Strength- and endurance-related sports were based on the power and endurance of the participant, and technique-related sports were determined by judging points. There was an over-representation of athletes born at the beginning of the first eligible age group and an under-representation of athletes born in the last relative age quarters.

Related Article: Study Shows Active Children Are Better At Math

The likelihood of selection for the International Children’s Winter Games was 3.5 times higher for an older athlete than from the last relative age quarter. For male athletes, the likelihood was 3.1 times higher, and for female athletes, the likelihood was 4.2 times higher. The results of the study revealed that the majority of younger athletes only had a chance for selection if they were early maturing, while older athletes had an increased likelihood of selection regardless of their biological maturity.

 

Takeaway

Further research would benefit by looking at a wider range of sports, especially group sports where individuals are explicitly up against each other. It would also be beneficial to be more specific in terms of types of sports, for instance including individual strength-related sports vs. group strength-related sports, etc. The winter sport selection process should not discriminate against younger athletes and needs to incorporate fairer selectiveness by considering relative age and biological maturity status.

You Might Like:

Healthy eating

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

John Barry How much protein should a person eat? What foods are high in protein? Is that to much food to eat? How can I get more into my diet without increasing my total calorie...
salt

Does a high salt diet cause cognitive impairment?

Ever since the early seventies, salt has been demonized by the health community. And with direct links to high blood pressure and heart disease, there is a reason why it has long been considered a...
female soccer player

Protocol for Breast Injuries in Female Athletes

The popularity of female sport has been increased at an incredible pace over the last decade. As a result, we have seen increases in funding, the uptake of better-quality coaches, and the introduction of high-level...

References:

Müller, L., Hildebrandt, C., and Raschner, L. (2017). The Role of a Relative Age Effect in the 7 International Children’s Winter Games 2016 and the Influence of Biological Maturity on Selection. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16: 195-202.

salt

Does a high salt diet cause cognitive impairment?

Metabolic

Metabolic Flexibility: The Key to Unlocking your Health

Sweat

What Your Sweat Says About Your Fitness Health

Meat

The Truth About Red Meat Consumption

woman running on a treadmill

Exercise: Is It Passion Or Addiction?

woman standing on a beach flexing both her arms

Prolonged Fasting for Health & Longevity

ab roller

How Core Strength Effects Athletic Performance

football

Should I Let My Child Play Football?

Weight Training Techniques: Benefits of Unilateral Training

Weight Training Techniques: The Benefits of Unilateral Training

Improve Aerobic Capacity: Tips and Tricks

How to Improve Your Aerobic Capacity – Tips & Tricks

Leave a Reply