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Quantification of the relative age effect in three indices of physical performance

Sandercock, GRH and Taylor, MJ and Voss, C and Ogunleye, AA and Cohen, DD and Parry, DA (2013) 'Quantification of the relative age effect in three indices of physical performance.' Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27 (12). 3293 - 3299. ISSN 1064-8011

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Abstract

The relative age effect (RAE) describes the relationship between an individual's birth month and their level of attainment in sports. There is a clustering of birth dates just after the cutoff used for selection in age-grouped sports, and it is hypothesized that such relatively older sportspeople may enjoy maturational and physical advantages over their younger peers. There is, however, little empirical evidence of any such advantage. This study investigated whether schoolchildren's physical performance differed according to which quarter of the school year they were born in. Mass, stature, body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, and power were measured in 10 to 16 year olds (n = 8,550, 53% male). We expressed test performance as ageand sex-specific z-scores based on reference data with age rounded down to the nearest whole year and also as units normalized for body mass. We then compared these values between yearly birth quarters. There were no significant main effects for differences in anthropometric measures in either sex. Girls born in the first quarter of the school year were significantly stronger than those born at other times when handgrip was expressed as a zscore. As z-scores, all measures were significantly higher in boys born in either the first or second yearly quarters. Relative to body mass, cardiorespiratory fitness was higher in boys born in the first quarter and power was higher in those born in the second quarter. The RAE does not appear to significantly affect girls' performance test scores when they are expressed as z-score or relative to body mass. Boys born in the first and second quarters of the year had a significant physical advantage over their relatively younger peers. These findings have practical bearing if coaches use fitness tests for talent identification and team selection. Categorizing test performance based on rounded down values of whole-year age may disadvantage children born later in the selection year. These relatively younger children may be less to gain selection for teams or training programmes. © 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2013 14:32
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2017 18:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/7279

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