Project

Growth and Maturation in Sport and Exercise

Goal: I have updated this project page to encompass a broader range of the projects that we are currently involved in, including our work with the Premier League, Lawn Tennis Association, and in other sports and activities such as rugby and dance. I am also expanding the reach of this project to cover the work that we have been doing in relation to how the processes of growth and maturation contribute towards health, physical activity, and other health related behaviours in youth. Across these projects we seek to better understand how the processes of growth and maturation contribute towards optimum development in health and exercise. A major aim of all such project to to develop and test methods and strategies that can be used to accommodate individual differences in growth and maturation and optimise development for all, with particular attention to the processes of talent identification and confirmation, grouping of youth for training and competition (i.e., bio-banding), the optimisation of challenge, and and the reduction of growth related injuries.

Updates
0 new
145
Recommendations
0 new
211
Followers
0 new
503
Reads
15 new
20071

Project log

Amanda Johnson
added a research item
Purpose: To explore the influence of differences in relative skeletal maturity on performance test outcomes in elite youth soccer players from the Middle East. Methods: We integrated skeletal age and performance assessments using mixed-longitudinal data available for 199 outfield players (chronological age range: 11.7 to 17.8 yr) enrolled as academy student-athletes (annual screening range: 1 to 5 visits). Skeletal age was determined as per the Tanner-Whitehouse II (TW-II) protocol. Relative maturity was calculated as the difference (∆) between TW-II skeletal age minus chronological age. Performance test outcomes of interest were 10-m sprinting, 40-m sprinting, countermovement jump (CMJ) height and maximal aerobic speed (MAS). Separate random-effects generalized additive models quantified differences in performance test outcomes by relative skeletal maturity. Estimated differences were deemed practically relevant based on the location of the confidence interval (95%CI) against minimal detectable change values for each performance test outcome. Results: For 40-m sprinting, differences of +0.51 s (95%CI, +0.35 to +0.67 s) and + 0.62 s (95%CI, +0.45 to +0.78 s) were practically relevant for relative maturity status of ∆ = -1.5 yr versus ∆ = +0.5 and ∆ = +1 yr, respectively. For CMJ height, a difference of -8 cm (95%CI, -10 to -5 cm) was practically relevant for ∆ = -1.5 yr versus ∆ = +1 yr relative maturity status comparison. Effects for 10-m sprinting and MAS were unclear. Conclusions: Integration of skeletal age and performance assessments indicated conventional maturity status classification criteria were inconsistent to inform player development processes in our sample. Between-player differences in test performance may depend on a substantial delay in skeletal maturation (∆ ≤ -1.5 yr) and the performance outcome measure.
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Couple more recent papers on maturation in football just coming our from our group that you may be interested in. Both papers come from Dr James Parr who just recently successfully defended his PhD.
In his first paper James used longitudinal data from the academy where we could test out three strategies for identifying when players were in and out of the pubertal growth spurt. With longitudinal data it was possible for use to identify exactly when players experienced actual PHV and compare the accuracy of the strategies at age 13. This age was chosen as it coincides with the age at PhD is generally found in boys and is meant to be the age at which the MO method is most accurate. We compared three bands/strategies including generic age, 13.8 years +-1 year, estimated APHV +- 1 year, and percentage predicted adult stature (85-96%). Of the three strategies that latter fared the best at identifying boys in and out of the growth spurt. You can read more about the study here
The second paper considered the main and interactive effects of relative age and maturity on players fitness in academy players. As expected, relative maturation was unrelated to relative age underlining the fact the these concepts are not one. Further illustrating this point relative age had comparatively less impact upon measures of physical fitness than biological maturation which demonstrated a favourable advantage to earlier maturing boys. This is perhaps not surprising as there is much greater scope for variation in maturation than their is for relative age and as it is much more closely linked with differences in physical size and athletic aptitude. These findings underline why it is so important to differentiate between maturation and relative age in young athletes. Just because an athlete was born early it does not imply that they are more mature. Their maturity will largely be covered by genetic and environmental factors and it is entirely possible to be the oldest yet least mature within a cohort and vice versa. Similarly, strategies designed to address selection biases associated with maturation, such a bio-banding, have little to no relevance to the relative age effect. A concept that seems to be lost on some scholars. You can find the paper here
James is continuing to work on publishing studies from his PhD so will keep you posted here.
Best wishes
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Thought some of you might be interested in Megan Hill 's latest publication from her PhD at Southampton which examined the impact of the growth spurt on coach evaluations of match performance over a 5 year period at Southampton FC. In this study with Sam Scott and Darragh McGee we found that coach rating of match performance dipped as players passed through the growth spurt before returning to normal post growth spurt. This fining has important repercussions for those faces with making retention and release decision in academy football and suggests a degree of caution when making decision on players mid growth spurt. It also highlights the need to consider how we train athletes through this phase of development to help them meet the challenges associated with sudden changes in growth.
The findings of this study are especially relevant when you consider that Southampton almost release on of their most successful talents, Gareth Bale, due to a dip in performance mid-growth spurt. Fortunately they recognised the predicament, worked more closely with him to address the challenges and the rest is history. To find out more about how you can work effectively with players mid growth spurt I recommend that you look at some of the work and practice advanced by Jan Willem Teunissen who developed and implemented some excellent strategies to deal with this during his time at Ajax.
You can read more about Gareth Bale's story here
Best wishes
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Thought I would share a link to this really nice webinar from FIG where Keith Russell speaks about the importance of growth and maturation in young gymnasts and provides guidance as how to manage gymnasts through the growth spurt. Some really nice insights and valuable to any working with young athletes across a range of sports
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
This is a really nice podcast from Amy Spencer and my PhD student Megan Hill Hill talking about how sport psychology and growth and maturation impacts player development at Southampton Academy. Megan talks a lot about the work on G and M that she is doing in her PhD programme with some good insights as to how maturity status and timing can impact selection/retention and match grades. Amy and Megan also discuss how they use psychology to support players in bio-banded contexts where they asked asked to play up or down. This is some really innovative work and a great example of interdisciplinary work. Amy and Megan also have also had a paper on this just accepted in Annals of Human Biology and it will be out soon. Podcast can be found here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope everyone is healthy and keeping safe. Yesterday I had the pleasure of being part of a webinar on growth and maturation with my good friend and colleague Joey C Eisenmann for the I Coach Kids EU project. It was really fun to participate in. Joey cover some of the key principles of growth and maturation that coaches should be aware of and they I had the chance to share some insights into our work and new directions with respect to the bio-banding. There was time at the end to also do some Q and A's with those watching. Hopefully some of you may find it useful. There are a lot of links to other really good videos on coaching youth at their site so I recommend that you check it out
Lastly, congratulations to Gillian Myburgh for her third published study from there PhD, this time looking at developmental fitness trajectories and assessments relative to age and maturity. It just came out in Annals of Human Biology and can be found at the link below. Some interesting findings that demonstrate the need to consider and control for differences in maturation when assessing fitness/athletic aptitude in junior tennis
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Thought you might be interested in this video from Les Parry at Manchester United detailing how growth and maturation is considered, assessed and monitored at the academy. It highlights four of the studies that came from James Parr 's Phd thesis and shows how they have impacted practice at the clubs. Hats off to James for doing such great work and helping inform practice and policy at the club. One of Jame's pre prints is available through this site. his second paper has just been accepted for Annals of human Biology and will be out soon. Looking forward to more of his work being published going forward, this video will give some brief insights into his findings. You can find the presentation at the link below
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just completed a podcast interview for Dan Walker on the work that we have been doing in growth and maturation in relation to sport and exercise. Was fun to do. If you are interested you can follow it here
Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Congratulations to James Parr on his first accepted paper from his PhD studies. This paper, just accepted looks at the main and interactive effects of maturity and relative age on fitness performances in academy footballers at Manchester United. The paper preprint can be requested from James
Some interesting findings showing maturation to be associated with the majority of tests but relative age only to demonstrate an association with counter movement jump. The study also provides evidence that maturation and relative age cannot be considered synonymous.
With Gillian Myburgh having her third tennis paper accepted this week, and there to for more in the revised and revision stages we should hopefully have more of our work to share with you soon
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope everyone is safe and well. Participated in a live webinar on growth and maturation in football for the English FA this Monday. Was good fun and had some good questions come through. The session is now on the FA Learning hub and can be found here for those interested. General discussion of the impact of G and M on development in girls and boys, impact of RAE and maturity on selection, and our work in the area of bio-banding.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Came across this recent you tube video from Peter Hill considering the potential benefits and challenges of using biobanding for training design in swimming. Some good comments and insights, especially with regards to the needs to promote education alongside any such strategies
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
João Valente-Dos-Santos Diogo V. Martinho and their colleagues have just published a nice study looking at the relationship between left ventricular mass and maturation in adolescent females soccer players. Interesting and quite unique study that shows the need to consider individual differences in maturation and body size/compsotion when assessing physiological and fitness parameters in youth. The Portugues team led by Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva continue to produce excellent work in this era. Has been a pleasure to continue working with him and his students. Looking forward to more papers and collaborations in the future
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
One of the positive outcomes of the lockdown has been the increase in webinars and pocasts on the subject of growth and maturation and long term athlete development. In this webinar Joey C Eisenmann David Johnson Ben Bradley and colleagues talk about the integration of growth and maturation across their Academy system at AFC Bournemouth. Some great insight, not just from a sports science perspective, but in terms of medical support and coaching. Great conversation and well worth a listen. You can listen in at the link below.
I'll be running a session on growth and maturation in football with the English FA with Matt Portas on you tube as part of their online education provision on April 27th. Looking forward to the session. I'll be discussing some of the basic of growth and maturation, their relevance in youth soccer, the differences between relative age and maturity selection biases, and some of our emerging findings in relation to the practice of biobanding. Should be fun.
Stay safe and all the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
James Bunce at US Soccer is running a second webinar on G and M, this time how to measures and monitor G and M. He will demonstrate the system that they currently use at US Soccer. You can register here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
My good friend and colleague Joey C Eisenmann was recently interviewed by another good friend and colleague Craig B Harrison for the Athlete Development Show. Excellent and very informative podcast that considers a number of issues related to applied sports science in youth sports and the subject of growth and maturation is a big focus. Excellent insights and an enjoyable conversation.
Hope everyone is well and staying safe
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
James Bunce the Performance Director at US ran a free online seminar on relative age, maturation and bio-banding last night. The seminar is free and covers some of the work we have been doing in this area. James was with the Premier League and led on all the maturity assessment and bio-banding as part of the Elite Player Performance Plan and has, more recently, applied similar work in the US. Definitely worth a listen if you are interested in this field. You can register at the link below
Enjoy and stay safe
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope everyone is keeping safe during this difficult time. On a more positive note, congratulations to Siobhan Mitchell for her recent publication exploring the potential advantages and disadvantages of delay maturation in youth ballet which just got accepted in the Journal of Adolescence. This paper is one of a number in the pipeline coming from Siobhan's PhD thesis and demonstrates how variance in maturation can both directly and indirectly impact the development of young dancers. Of particular interest is the observation that delayed maturation, while generally selected for in ballet, can cause challenges in that the growth spurt occurs at an older age when training loads can often be higher and when important decisions are made relative to selection and retention. The challenges of maintaining performance through the growth spurt are noted, suggesting a potential disadvantage for late developers in these stages.
Have been very luck to have such a great cohort of students to work with and looking forward to some more papers on the subject of maturation coming out soon.
All the best and keep safe
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just got back from a visit to Clairefontaine with Sam Scott from Southampton FC share some of the work we have been doing on growth and maturation in football with the French Football Federation. It was great to discuss our work with the French coaches and practitioners and see the resources they have there. Looking forward to hopefully working more closely together in the future. France have arguably been one of the most successful countries in recent years in terms of developing young talent so it will be interesting to see how the work could be integrated there. Have attached a couple of pictures from our trip. Big thanks to Dr Chris Carling for the invitation.
Also excited to announce that we have just signed off on a research project to work with Dr Dave Piggott at the Football Association looking at implementing systems for assessing growth and maturation across the national junior development programmes. This will involve a range of activities across and number of different departments where maturation is of importance to consider. Looking forward to working more closely with the FA and spending some more time working with them at St George's.
Finally, BBC have also realised another short on our work we did withAFC Bournemouth and Southampton below.
Hope everyone is keeping well
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
US Soccer have just released the an article and video on their continued work on the subject of bio-banding following January's tournament in Los Angeles. Looking forward to seeing some of the results and findings from the tournament in the near future. Will be interesting to see of the findings, especially those from the girls games, parallel those we found in the previous tournament.
All the best
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Couple of updates to share.
A Bath University media release from our Biobanding fixture involving Southampton, AFC Bournemouth and Reading can be found here. Some good insights from Ben Bradley and David Johnson and from the players about this work.
I also highly recommend that you take some time to watch Des Ryan's presentation from the recent GAA conference on how Arsenal develop young players within their academy system. It is a really enjoyable and well informed presentation that addresses the holistic development of the child and has some really nice examples and insights re the consideration of growth and maturation. As a club I have been really impressed with the way Arsenal are conscious of and cater for differences in growth and maturity, A really good example of informed practice.
The specific on G and M can be found at the 24:30 mark
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
For those of you who are going to the upcoming IOC Injury Prevention conference in March 2020, I would highly encourage you to attend this specific session on injury in young athletes. It has a particular focus on the subject of growth and maturation. Tejal Patel from our own team at Bath will be presenting on some of the work that she has been doing with British Gymnastics. My colleagues Nikki Rommers and Amanda Johnson are also involved in presentation on the subject of maturation and injury in this sessions so it should be great, wish I could be there.
I also believe that Nikki Rommers and Jan Willem Teunnisen are involved in a symposium on the management of training through the growth spurt, with a particular emphasis on how training load and content can be adapted to ensure a healthier transition through the pubertal growth spurt. Having applied these principles in his previous work at Ajax, Jan has a unique insight into how to apply maturity matching principles in a professional environment.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Travelled down to Bournemouth yesterday to attend a bio-banded tournament between AFC Bournemouth, Southampton and Reading FC. A simultaneous tournament for the more mature bands was hosted at Southampton. BBC covered the event and those with a BBC licence can see the new feature here. Starts at approx 18.30 mark. Thanks to Ben Bradley and Sam Scott from Bournemouth and Southampton for organising this, and my PhD students at the clubs Megan Hill and David Johnson for all their hard work supporting these projects.
Some pics from the day are attached to this post
Those interested in the consideration of maturation and size in rugby might also want to consider this video on the rules they have implemented in Australia pertaining to size, fitness and maturity as criteria for determining age grouping. Will be interesting to see how this change in policy pans out
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Couple of new papers on growth and maturation you might be interested in.
The first comes from Adam Dominic George Baxter-Jones research group and looks at the impact of growth and maturity upon players athletes selection and retention in Canadian Youth. There were impacts of relative age and maturity upon the initial samples but evidence that variance in size and maturity impacted selection. and deselection. It is a really nice sample and the it was great to be able to see the impact of the growth and maturity attributes on later selection and retention. You can find the paper below. It was nice to have a chance to collaborate on this project and I look forward to more papers coming from this study.
I should add that this paper is the first of a series of papers on growth and maturation in sport and exercise science that will be coming out in a special edition of Annals of Human Biology that will be coming out later this year.
Those interested in the impact of adolescence on nutrition in young athletes might also wasn't to check out this study form Liverpool John Moore's University from Marcus Hannon that looks at body composition and resting metabolic rate across age groups in academy soccer players. As you would expect changes in RMR appear to parallel changes in FFM through adolescence, with potential implications for daily energy intake requirements.
Finally, I would also encourage people to check out this nice study to come out of Aspire and Norway that my colleague Amanda Johnson was involved with. It shows notable associations between growth rate and injury incidence in adolescent athlete, with clear implications for managing athletes more effectively through the growth spurt. Of note, this study shows earlier maturing athletes to be at less risk, perhaps experiencing puberty at a younger age, when training loads are potentially lower, might be of benefit. This was something flagged up in our ballet research by instructors and it is nice to see some evidence suggesting this might be the case.
Hope you enjoy the papers
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just a quick mail to share this interesting radio interview on some work that my good friend and colleague Craig B Harrison has been involved in with New Zealand Cricket. Really interesting insights and findings that appear very consistent with what we have found in soccer., but also benefits that are very specific to the skills and attributes that are important in cricket. Really excited to read and learn more about this work. You can listen to the interview with one of the researchers Dr Simon Walters in the link below.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just a quick link to share an article on how Clermont Rugby are considering differences in relative age and maturation and exploring the potential benefits of bio-banding strategies
It is a good article and what they appear to be putting in place looks great. It is important to note that relative age and biological maturation are, however, not synonymous. This is a common error that journalists and often researchers make. Whereas relative age is determined by date of birth and cut off dates and typically varies but a maximum of one year; variance in maturity timing result from a combination of genetic (approx 80%) and environmental/behavioural factors, and can vary by as much as five to six years within kids of the same age. As such it is entirely possible to be the youngest in one's age group, but also the most mature (and vice versa).
I think that much of the confusion around relative age and maturation results from the fact that age is often used in society an index of when children are capable of engaging in more mature forms of behaviours (i.e., driving, drinking, sex, marriage etc...). That is we assume children are capable of engaging in matures behaviours and roles when they achieve a specific age, and that there is a direct association between these two constructs (age and maturity).
While age and maturity are highly correlated when we consider children across a wide age range, the association between these constructs becomes much weaker when we consider them within narrower age bands (i.e., one year age group), and it would appear that the association may be even weaker in young athletes. Our own studies show little to no correlation between relative and maturity within one year age groups in athletes, and in some cases have even shown inverse relations. As such, relative age cannot be considered a proxy of maturation within a single year age group. These findings may be due to the fact that being advanced in maturity may be a more important requisite for Q4 than Q1 athlete. that is, being advanced in maturity may help mitigate some of the disadvantages associated with being almost a year younger or less experienced. That is, a disproportionate number of early maturing athletes are likely to be represented in Q4, than in Q1.
Further evidence of the independent nature of these constructs can be seen in their associated selection biases. Relative age effects can be observed from early childhood and are maintained though early to late adolescence. In contrast, maturity selection biases only emerge from the onset of puberty and typically increase with age and level of competition. These disparities demonstrate that relative age and maturation are distinct constructs that exist and operate independent of one another, and likely result from different attributes and involve difference processes and mechanisms. Relative age effects are much more likely to result from factors that are align with age, such as experience and cognitive, motor, and social development. This would explain why we can observed RAEs well in advance of puberty and in non physical domains such as academics, chess, business and politics. Some of our most recent studies also show that RAE and maturation differentially impact physical and psychological variables, with maturity typically being the most important attribute during adolescence. For example, in our work in football and rugby we have typically found maturity, but nor relative age to serve as a more important predictor of variance in fitness and psychological skills. This is perhaps not that surprising given that there is much more scope for variance in maturation than relative age doing the phase of development.
Solutions for the RAE would ideally need to focus on these attributes and implemented well in advance of puberty. Such strategies should also be considered prior to entry into the academy system and potentially at the grass roots levels. There are some exciting strategies currently being trialled such as mean age competition, visual cues to help with scouting/evaluation, late birthday projects/teams, and Q4 recruitment days.
Strategies such as bio-banding are not designed to address the RAE (though often are confused and misrepresented as being such) and, thus, will not solve such phenomena. Rather they are designed to help coaches and practitioners consider the individual differences in biological maturation. Accordingly, strategies such as bio-banding are best left until the onset of puberty when the physical and athletic advantages associated with variance in maturity timing become more salient.
Going forward, it will be important that researchers and practitioners recognise relative age and maturity as distinct and consider the potential interactions of these constructs. What is the impact of being both a late maturing athlete and a quarter 4, do they even exist in our athlete development systems? Do athletes who are Q1 and early maturing have the greatest advantages, but could these advantages serve as a disadvantage in the long term (i.e., lack of challenge)? Researchers and practitioners also need to consider and treat relative age and maturity as distinct when they look to develop strategies to help deal with them..
If anyone has any thoughts on this topic then feel free to share them in the comments below
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Thought some of you might be interested in this really nice animated video that Michael Romann and his team have put out on the subject of bio-banding. The video provides a really nice explanation of the concept and its purpose. Excited to see if they find similar benefit for early and late developing athletes in their work
The video is in French so if you fancy testing your language skills it is well worth the watch
You can find out more about the Swiss Fed Inst Sport here
For those of you with a good grasp of the French language you might also enjoy this recent article on our work that was covered in 'L'Equipe mafgazine. Scans attached.
Bonne chance
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Thought I would share this video from last weekend's NFL Playoffs. A 13 year old Andy Reid (Chief's HC) taking part in a punt pass and kick youth competition. He must be double the size of the other kids and it's a great example of how big kids often don't have to rely as much on their technical ability to succeed :-D not he greatest of throwing styles, that said, he is is 13 year old :-D
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just a couple of quick updates re our continuing work in the area of growth and maturation. We just returned from US Soccer’s second bio-banded tournament in Corona, California. It was a 6-team tournament with boys and girls’ teams from a number of MLS and DA academies and across two bands. Initial feedback from players and coaches suggests positive yet distinct benefits for both early and late maturing boys and girls, very much consistent with our previous research. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of US Soccer’s final evaluation. I was accompanied on the trip by my PhD student from AFC Bournemouth and Southampton FC, David Johnson and Megan Hill who had the opportunity to share their experiences and insights re the assessment and application of growth and maturity with US coaches and parents. It was also a great opportunity for them to meet Robert Malina a who was also invited to attend the event. Big thanks to US Soccer and James Bunce and Tom Hicks for organising the event and the invitations. You can read more about the event here.. Will post more news releases as the follow. I have also posted some of my pics wfrom the event with this post
Second exciting piece of news to announce is that Sean Williams and I will be starting a second research collaboration with Manchester United FC’s academy. Alistair McBurnie will join James Parr and our team to look at maturation and training load in academy players. Former Utd Academy Physio and leading expert on maturation an injury in young athletes Amanda Johnson will also be contributing to the project
Finally a big thank you to Víctor López-Ros for the invitation to present our work in Catalonia and the University of Girona last November and for the hospitality of Nuno Leite and Jorge Arede . Really enjoyed the trip, meeting everyone and looking forward to working more closely together in the future.
All the best for 2020
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Was recently interviewed by Athletic Evolution about our work in the area of growth and maturation. Anyone interested in learning more can listen on the following link. The podcast covers a range of topics including the importance of studying growth and maturation, why RAE and maturity are not the same, and how biobanding is being applied in terms of competition and training design.
My colleague Shmuel Levin also sent along this link to a video detailing some of the work that the German FA are doing with Eintracht Frankfurt on growth and maturity assessment in academy players. In the video you can see that they are taking skeletal hand wrist assessments in addition to assessing skeletal maturation via the BAUS system for assessing maturity through bone density. Unlike many equivalent systems the BAUS system takes assessment at three sites radius, carpals, phlanges. The initial results looking at the validity of this system, though I am not aware of the results from the German project, have been really promising and it will be interesting to see its potential benefits and uptake.
Finally, thought I would share a link to an interview about a new study that comes out of Denmark looking at factors underlining Osgood Schlatter's disease, a common injury during the growth spurt. In the interview the researchers discuss the diagnosis, antecedents, treatment and prognosis of the disease and come up with some interesting new insights re risk factors such as muscle imbalances. Through better monitoring of the training load and growth spurt and consideration of these factors hopefully there is a lot that can be done to reduce and alleviate such conditions. Well worth a listen.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added 11 research items
Objectives: The main and interactive effects of biological maturity status and relative age upon self-regulation in male academy soccer players are considered. Consistent with the ‘underdog’ hypothesis, whereby relatively younger players may benefit from competitive play with older peers, it was predicted later maturing and/or relatively younger players would report more adaptive self-regulation. Design: Cross-sectional study. Method: Players (n = 171, aged 11–16 years) from four English professional soccer academies completed the modified Soccer Self-Regulation Scale. Date of birth, height, weight and parental height were obtained. Relative age was based on birth quarter for the selection year. Maturity status was based upon percentage of predicted adult height attained. Results: Linear regression models showed later maturation was inversely associated with adaptive self-regulation, while relative age was unrelated to self-regulation. Conclusions: In partial support of the underdog hypothesis, later maturing players appear to possess a psychological advantage.
Inter-individual differences in size, maturity status, function, and behavior among youth of the same chronological age (CA) have long been a concern in grouping for sport. Bio-banding is a recent attempt to accommodate maturity-associated variation among youth in sport. The historical basis of the concept of maturity-matching and its relevance to youth sport, and bio-banding as currently applied are reviewed. Maturity matching in sport has often been noted but has not been systematically applied. Bio-banding is a recent iteration of maturity matching for grouping youth athletes into ‘bands’ or groups based on characteristic(s) other than CA. The percentage of predicted young adult height at the time of observation is the estimate of maturity status of choice. Several applications of bio-banding in youth soccer have indicated positive responses from players and coaches. Bio-banding reduces, but does not eliminate, maturity-associated variation. The potential utility of bio-banding for appropriate training loads, injury prevention, and fitness assessment merits closer attention, specifically during the interval of pubertal growth. The currently used height prediction equation requires further evaluation.
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Quick update re our continuing work in the area of growth and maturation.
There has been some international coverage of our work, especially in France, with two articles on bio-banding published in L'equipe magazine and one in Bon Plan Foot. If your French is up to scratch you can follow them at the various links below.
Biobanding, as a word, has now also officially entered the English dictionary for the first time, thought the definition could be improved upon :-D
Should have a couple of new exciting projects and papers coming out in the next couple of months on the subject of growth and maturity and will let you know more when they are official.
Wishing everyone the best for the upcoming winter break.
Cheers Sean
The l'equipe article require membership but the bon foot article is full access
The National Youth Sports Institute in Singapore also created a nice new video on the subject of growth and maturation that is worth a view
Nice couple of infographics on our work that David Johnson and Ben Bradley conducted at Bournemouth's academy
David Johnson was also interviewed on his work in the area of growth and maturation by the Football Fitness Federation
Likewise I would really encourage you to listen to Steve Curnyn from Hibernian FC in Scotland talk about how they assess and consider differences in growth and maturity in an interview with Athletic Evolution
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all,
Hope everyone has been having an enjoyable summer. Some updates from our group that might be of interest.
Robert Malina and some of my colleagues Alan D Rogol Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva Jan M. Konarski António J. Figueiredo have just had a review on the subject of bio-banding, it's historical roots, conception, and application published in sports medicine. It was a fun paper to write and it is quite fascinating to see how far back the concept of maturity matching goes. If you are interested in reading it you can follow it here
My PhD student with Bournemouth, David Johnson, also just recently completed a podcast for the Football Fitness Federation where he was interviewed on the subject of growth and maturation in academy football, his PhD and the application growth and maturation data in relation to training and competition at AFC Bournemouth. David did a great job and you can follow his podcast here on iTunes or Spotify
Also of interest was Will Abbott and his team's recent publication on the impact of bio-banding upon physical and technical performance in academy football. Will Heads up sports science at Brighton and Hove Albion FC's academy and you can find the paper here. What was especially encouraging to see was that an independent study employing different methods arrived at very similar conclusions to some of our initial studies.
Also, here is a nice link to a brief video that serves as an introduction to an interview with Matt DePledge from the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) talking about the application of bio-banding in relation to player training. Matt was with the Southampton FC before moving to the LTA and has one of a number of practitioners really leading the way in the consideration of growth and maturation in relation to player development. It's a really good interview and worth a watch.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Bob Malina informed me that our Bio-banding paper with the Premier League was recognised but the editorial board of Pediatric Exercise Science as one of the most exciting studies within it's field for 2018. This is the second time that one of the groups papers has been recognised in this special edition and a real honour to have our work selected.
You can find the article that discusses our work and some of the other innovative studies in the field of Pediatric Exercise Science here
Previously, Gill Myburgh's study on the impact of maturation upon physical fitness in tennis was identified in a previous review of the year
On another note, the German Football Association (DFB-Akadamie) just published an article on growth and maturity and bio-banding in youth football. If you are fluent in German you can read it here
Otherwise I have attached an English version translated through Google Translate
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
My PhD student Gillian Myburgh who has been studying growth and maturation with the Lawn Tennis Association graduates today and the University ran a feature on her work balancing her PhD with coaching some of the UK's top tennis talent.
You can read the article here
Our most recent paper on bio-banding has also come out in the Annals of Human Biology in its accepted authors version. This paper evaluated a bio-banded tournament hosted by AFC Bournemouth, and involving Exeter and Watford. They findings again very very positive and very much in line with what we found in our previous paper. Once again, differential benefits for both early and late maturing boys
A big thanks to Ben Bradley at Bournemouth for spearheading this work and inviting us to collaborate.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
My PhD student Gill Myburgh will be graduating this month and he third paper from her studies, co-authored with Bob Malina, has just come out in Sports Medicine Open. You can find it at the following link.
The study compares two non invasive estimates of maturity status (KR and Offset) with the skeletal maturation. Results were mixed. KR method did pretty well in males with respect to the Fels method, but was not a strongly associated with Fees in the girls sample. The offset method did not perform particularly well in either sex. It is important to note that as the two NI methods assess somatic maturity and not skeletal maturity, per se. As such, one would not expect a particularly high concordance rate. Of note, concordance rates between measures of skeletal age also tend to only correlate around .7 to .8
In summary, it suggests further work needs to be done on the validation and utility of these various methods.
Finally attached a picture of Mateusz and I visiting Sam Scott at Southampton FC's academy. It was fun to host both Jan Konarksi and Mateusz and we look forward to working more closely with them in the future.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Apologies for not updating the project page for some time. Work has been busy with a combination of teaching, new research projects, presentations and visits but now that the undergraduate programmes are finished for the summer it is nice to get back to work
Since my last post we have had a number of new publications on the subject of growth and maturation accepted and published.
Myself, Bob Malina, and Alan D Rogol contributed a commentary on the topic of bio-banding that was published in ‘Pediatrics’.
I also published an invited commentary on the how football is leading the way in the study and consideration of growth and maturation in young athletes for the Annals of Human Biology.
António J. Figueiredo, Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva, and Bob Malina and I also published a paper looking at the impact of maturity and relative age on progression in Portuguese youth football in the Journal of Sports Sciences.
Carly McKay, Tracey Blake, and I also recently had a review paper entitled ‘Youth Sport: Friend or Foe? Published in Best practice in Research and Clinical Rheumatology. It considers the potential injury risk faced by young athletes. A large part of the paper deals with the challenges presented by the pubertal growth spurt and Carly and Tracey do a really nice job of reviewing some of the potential risks that it presents young athletes and proposing some sound advice for practitioners.
My PhD student with Bournemouth FC, David Johnson hnson, has also just had his first study published in the European Journal of Sports Sciences, identifying a greater risk of injury incidence and burden through the growth spurt. Hopefully one of many more to come.
Papers accepted but not yet out in publication include Gill Myburgh’s (LTA) study looking at concordance between invasive and non-invasive maturity measures in junior tennis; David Johnson and Ben Bradley study looking at player perceptions and evaluation of a bio-banding tournament in soccer; and Megan Hill and Sam Scott’s study looking at the impact of relative age and biological maturity on athlete selection in Southampton FC’s academy. Will post links to these papers when they come out.
Interest in our work appears to be growing and it has been nice to host some visitors from overseas this semester. Jan Willem Teunnisen, the former movement specialists at Ajax Academy who applying the principles of bio-banding in their academy well in advance of our research came to visit in March and put on a series of workshops for practitioners and students. The work that Jan was doing to help athletes transition more effectively and safely through the growth spurt was incredibly innovative and well received by all who attended. In early June we had a visit from Pavlina Kalcikova from the Czech FA and Lech Plzen who is starting her PhD looking at growth and maturation and its implications in young footballers. The following week we host Professor Jan M. Konarski Konarksi and his PhD student Mateusz Skrzypczak from the University of Pozn in Poland who are also working on a very similar project in football. It was fun to learn about the football academy systems in these countries and the similar challenges that they face in dealing with individual differences in growth and maturation. Looking forward to a similar visit from Sarah A Moore in July.
Finally, I want to say a big congratulations to Gillian Myburgh from the Lawn Tennis Association who successfully completed her PhD investigating the impact of growth and maturation in junior tennis players. Gill published has already had three papers from here thesis accepted and has another in the hopper. Her work has shed a lot of insight into the subject of G and M in this sport and has already inspired in a number of changes in practice in her organisations. I look forward to continuing to collaborate going forward.
Will try to post a little more frequently going forward. Have a number of exciting new projects on the horizon and will share these as the develop.
All the best
Sean
PS: The Leeds Beckett Group have created a really nice video on growth and maturity as part of their I coach kids EU group. It is worth checking out and is a great resource for students, coaches and parents. You can find it here
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
I was interviewed by Rob Anderson from Athletic Evolution a couple of weeks back on the subject of growth and maturation and bio-banding. The questions focus on how I became interested in the area and recommendations for youth sports coaches and researchers. For those interested you can read a little more little more here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Some of your recent work on bio-banding was discussed in an article in the 'The I' yesterday. It features comments from James Bunce (US Soccer) and Nick Levett (Formerly with the FA). It is a decent article and does a good job of explaining that bio-banding is part of a broader solution to address maturity related challenges and not a panacea.
You can read more about the article here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
With more and more of football clubs and sporting organisations collecting longitudinal data on measures of height and weight there is increased interest in looking at and plotting the velocity growth curves in young athletes. This practice has value in terms of better understanding development, identifying phases where athletes might be at more or less risk for specific injury types, experience plateaus or decrements in motor performance (i.e., awkwardness), or respond differential to straining stimuli. Traditionally scholar and practitioners have used methods such as Preece Baines modeling to plot the growth curves, but on discussion with Adam Dominic George Baxter-Jones he recommended I look at using cubic spline models to plot the curve and recommended graphpad as a suitable software package. https://www.graphpad.com/
I was interested in learning more about this method and found a useful video on you tube from a company that had created a free add-on that could be integrated into excel that would allow you to do the same analysis. What I really liked about this method is that it allowed you to interpolate what values would be at points when you did not make a specific measurement, which better allowed you to estimate true age at peak height velocity. In short, I downloaded the add on and created an XL file that would allow me to do this. I have attached this file to this e mail for others to use. I suspect that you may need to download the add on to use it though. Basically by adding your true ages at measurement and true heights in column a and b and including the ages you want modelled in column C you should be able to follow the instruction on the video and create the curve data in column D. I was unable to figure out how to plot the curve directly through the cubic spline points in excel but added the polynomial curve which is an ok approximate. Maybe graphpad can do this better.
You can check out the video on the excel add on here
And download the add on here
Hopefully this might be of some use to those of you who have similar data.
I am looking forward to learning more about this method from Adam and will let you know how I get on with graphpad.
On another note, I'm looking forward to a trip to Belgium and Netherlands next Wednesday to Friday to meet with my colleague and friend Jan Willem Teunnisen. Jan was former movement scientist in the Ajax Academy and was applying a lot of the principles of bio-banding to great effect 10-15 years ago. If you ever get a chance to meet with high or see him present I highly recommend it. Some of his training principles re how to better manage the growth spurt are already being applied in the academy settings in the UK. Will be meeting some academics and sports scientists in Belgium first before travelling to the Netherlands for a similar meeting. Looking forward to learning about the work that is going on in these countries and sharing some of the insights from our own work.
Finally, on the subject of growth, maturation and health I highly recommend this fantastic lecture given by Ronald Dahl on the need to adopt a trans-disciplinary approach when studying the impact of puberty on health in adolescents. A great lecture that highlights the complexity of the puberty health relationship and the need to adopt a biocultural perspective in this field.
All the best and thanks for the continued interest in our work
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Don't think I have previously shared this video. It is from Bournemouth FC's academy and includes an interview with Ben Bradley, head of sports science, and some of the coaches and discusses their use of bio-banding.
My PhD student David Johnson that I co-supervise with Sean Williams is currently with Bournemouth looking at the interaction of maturation and training load in relation to injury.
Ben and his team at Bournemouth have been one of the clubs leading the way in the study of this practice and we recently helped with the evaluation of a bio-banded tournament that they hosted. The paper is currently out for review and, funders crossed, hopefully we will have the chance to share the results in the future.
All the best
Sean
 
Adam Dominic George Baxter-Jones
added an update
Attached link to a webinar on the Role of Maturation in Youth Soccer
The password to view the webinar is CLPILOT2018 (all caps).
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all,
Last week the York University in Canada hosted a Relative Age Effect conference. The lectures were all captured and are available on their facebook page for those interested in the subject. There were some excellent presentations and a lot of findings and insights that parallel our work in the area of maturation. If you are interested in this subject then I highly recommend taking the time to check out their site. I especially enjoyed hearing about Professor Helsen insights re the Belgian futures programme.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Been a busy month with the start of the term so I thought I should add an update re some new papers that we have published on the subject of maturity and bio-banding.
Bob, Malina, Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva Antonio Figueiredo and I published a paper from the Antonio's Portuguese youth footballer data set looking at the interaction of maturation and relative age as it related to continued involvement in sport. The results of this study were quite interesting in that while Q1 players were more advanced in terms of absolute maturity Q4 players were more likely to be advanced in maturation for their age. This suggests that advanced maturity for ones age may help offset some of the disadvantages of being younger and highlights the need to consider the independent and interactive effects of maturity and relative age. The results pertaining to the impact of RAE and maturity upon future status of the players were mixed with evidence both for and against the underdog effect. The paper can be found here... Relative
Alan D Rogol , Bob, and myself also published a commentary on the subject of bio-banding in Pediatrics. This paper provides a basic introduction to the practice is aimed at Pediatricians who may be working with young athletes. You can find this paper here....
Finally, Paulo Borges was kind enough to invite me to contribute to a paper looking at the impact of maturity upon fitness and tactical performance inn Brazilian youth soccer players. Whereas maturity was unrelated to tactical performance, some aspects of physical cardio respiratory fitness were associated with this performance in this area, suggesting links between the two. Thanks again for the opportunity to collaborate on the paper Paulo and I look forward to working more closely together in the future.
Finally, my colleague Fiona Gillison also wrote a really nice article in the conversation about why letters to parents about weight status are not effective. In this piece she highlighted some of the work that we had done showing that about 30% of girls aged 10 categorised as overweight are actually downgraded to being of normal weight when considered relative to their biological ages/maturity. The premise is based on the assumption that it is not fair to compare a 10 year old girls against BMI standards for 10 year olds if she is, biologically much older. The procedures we used are very similar to those we apply when bio-banding athletes for fitness assessments to determine where they stand relative their chronological and biological age groups. What I found particularly interesting about this study is it suggests that obesity/overweight prevalence stats in the the UK are probably somewhat over exaggerated due to such limitations. Plus kids are likely getting unfairly categorised as overweight when in all actuality they may be of normal weight for thir stage of development.
Thanks again to everyone for following our work and I will continue to update as new papers and projects come in
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
This week/weekend we are at the News Scientist Live Expo in London showcasing some of our work we have done around the subject of maturity measurement and bio-banding with the Institute for Mathematical Innovation at the University of Bath. As part of an maths in the real world booth hosted by the Turing Institute, kids attending the event will be able to find out their predicted adult height, biological age, which superstar athlete they will be most similar to in height, and how we use this information to help train and develop young athletes. You can learn more about the expo at the link below
My PhD students David Johnson with Bournemouth FC and Megan Hill with Southampton FC are manning the booths Thursday to Friday and @Tejal Patel with British Gymnastics and myself will be on the booth this weekend. It's been a great first day and David and Megan have already had plenty opportunity to fine tuning their measuring skills and share their knowledge and insights with the children, parents, scientists and teachers :-D
Big thanks to the IMI at Bath for this opportunity and for co-directors Professor Chris Budd and Dr Paul Shepherd (photo above) for all their help and support.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Some more updates re our groups work.
Our initial paper that we conducted with the Premier League investigating the benefits of bio-banding conducted with the premier League was covered in an article in the Observer on Sunday. They did a nice job of highlighting the benefits to the early developers which is often overlooked on consideration of this strategy. You can read the article here
The article has resulted in interviews with BBC Radio 4 and RTE Radio 1 which I have attached as MP3 files to this post if you would like to listen. The reporters asked some good questions and it was fund to chat about the work with them. I have also done another interview with an Irish Radio Station today which I will upload tomorrow.
Congratulations to my PhD student with Southampton FC Megan Hill who was just awarded the prize for best student presentation at the NASPEM conference in Oakland 2018. You can see Megan's poster here
Also, excited to welcome Alex Owens as a new PhD student with Team Bath's futures programme. Alex will be heading up Team Bath's sports science support programme for young athletes while he pursues his studies in athlete development.
Finally, pleased to announce that our group have been invited to present at the upcoming New Scientist Live expo in London in late September, showcasing some of the work we have been doing in bio-banding alongside the Institute for Mathematical Innovation who have been supporting our work. It is a 4 day event in the heart of London and we are looking forward to engaging with all the kids and families and members of the public that attend the event. You can find out more about the expo here..
Hope everyone is doing well and gearing up for the new academic year
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added a research item
Relative Age and Maturity selection biases within an elite youth football academy
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope everyone is having a good summer. Just a quick update regarding our work.
We have just published our most recent paper looking at the impact on relative age and maturation upon self-regulation in academy soccer and you can find it at the link below if you are interested.
In summary we found that later maturing player present more adaptive self-regulation skills in support of the underdog hypothesis. Relative age had no impact, suggesting that maturity was the more important of the two constructs, and it was also evident that RAE and maturity are two independent constructs. From an applied perspective this late developing players have to possess or develop these attributes to be retained in the systems. That said, despite these advantages, late maturing players were still a minority. The results also suggest that early maturing need to revive more support in the development of such skills. We were fortunate to have a number of academy staff from Arsenal, Crewe Alexandra , Stoke City and Southampton involved in this study and it was great to have their input.
On another note, I have just completed invited brief commentaries on our work for Pediatrics and Annals of Human Biology. The Paediatrics commentary focusses on the concept of bio-banding and was written with Alan D Rogol (Lead) and Bob Malina and introduces the application of bio-banding in youth sports from the perspective of a paediatrician. This one is scheduled for publication in November. The paper in Annals of Human Biology is on how football, as a sport, is leading the way in the consideration of growth and maturation and gives some practical examples of the how this is being achieved. I really enjoyed writing both pieces as they are not intended for your traditional scientific audience and should be accessible for the public as well. The Annals of Human Biology Paper is being processed and should be available soon. Will make sure to post links to them when they come out.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope you all enjoyed the world cup. Was great to see team's such as Belgium benefit from their investment in youth and talent development. Some of the best work in growth and maturation has and continues to be conducted in Belgium and it is of little surprise that their junior programs have benefitted from greater awareness of this subject. I posted this article previously but will do so again as it is a good reminder of how research can be translated into practice.
Also wanted to share a podcast that I have just finished listening to from a good colleague and friend, Des Ryan who heads up sports science and medicine in Arsenal FC's academy. Des has been at the forefront to of integrating growth and maturation into the academy system and has also started publishing some research in this area. The podcast is a great listen and gives a unique insight into the approaches used at Arsenal's academy.
You can read his recent paper on maturation and movement quality in football here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all, thought you might be interested in this paper that recently came on linking a natural disaster with pubertal timing. While pubertal timing is largely governed by genetic factors there is evidence to show that behaviour and/or the environmental can also contribute to variance in timing, particularly through exposure to stress. Whereas factors such as war and famine have been linked with delayed maturation, exposure to certain stressful social contexts, especially in the family, have been linked with earlier pubertal onset in girls. This paper looks at the impact of a recent earthquake in China upon pubertal timing and documents evidence of earlier pubertal onset following the disaster.
If you are interested in reading more around these potential mechanisms I recommend that you take a look at the following conversation from the Edge of Growth and Maturation website where some of the leading scholars discuss the gene x environment interaction as it relates to pubertal timing. There are some really interesting proposals in here. Ideas that I really like are that in order to understand how the environment impacts pubertal timing you have to consider the purpose of timing in the first place (reproduction) and why it would benefit the individual group to advance or delay puberty. I also really like the concept of there being certain stages in development where the body reevaluates the environmental context (in particular stressors) and is capable of adjusting (speeding up or delaying) pubertal timing accordingly.
Applied to to earthquake scenario, one might postulate (from an evolutionary perspective) that an acute stressor of such a magnitude leading to loss of lives within and/or disintegration a social or familial groups might encourage earlier entry into adulthood, increasing the capacity of individual to exist and act independently or form new social groupings. All very interesting. Bit different from my usual shares but hope you enjoy the paper as much as I did.
I would be interested in hearing anyone else's thoughts on this
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Hope everyone is enjoying the World Cup games.
I thought I would share these two articles on Jesse Lingard, a current Man Utd and England player. Both articles present a really great example of why it is important to consider and be aware of maturation status and how to best manage late maturing players.
Enjoy
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Came across this news feature from Hibernian FC's Academy in Scotland. In a lot of my work with the FA and the Premier League the subject of education comes up a lot and a number of clubs are now running initiatives to educate players, parents and staff on the subject of growth and maturation. In this news feature Steven Curnyn asked a first team player who was a late developer himself, to come in to speak to some of their later maturing players and discuss his experiences. This is a great idea and will do a lot to his the boys confidence and help them negotiate the challenges of being a late developer.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
This is an interesting article on football development in Belgium and some of the work that has been done to address RAE and maturity selection biases. Steve Lawrence, who we worked with on the project with Stoke City is mentioned in the article. Some really good insights as to how to avoid overlooking younger and/or late maturing players
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
A blogger by the name of Adnan Ilyas recent published a couple of papers on the work were are doing with US Soccer. What is interesting about these articles is how the authors beliefs pertaining to biobanding change across both article.
The first article was very critical of the bio-banding strategy and the methods employed and while raising a number of important issues to consider was not particularly well informed on the methods we use and the nature and purpose of the strategy. YA lot of the criticism falls on the methodology used. While some of the criticisms are warranted and important to recognise (i.e., the methods being developed for caucasian samples, measurement error etc, lack of biological parent height..); they are also exagerated in some instances. For example, the median error for the KR methods, expressed as % of adult stature would be + or - 1.5%, resulting in bands of 8% variation in PAH, rather than the proposed 10%. As noted in the second paper, variation in %PAH in age group games is usually much greater (13-16%). In this chapter the author views biobanding as an straight swap for age group competition rather than a format that can sit alongside age group competition.
You can the first article below
The second article was written following conversations with James Bunce, head of development at US Soccer and present a very different opinion. To be fair, the author recognises a number of the assumptions that he previously held were unfounded and his take on the practice and its potential benefits and limitations is quite different. While it is understandable that individuals will jump to conclusions when provided with limited information on a subject it is refreshing to see that some individuals are willing to change they minds or positions when presented with a more comprehensive explanation of the subject and practice. You can read the second, and slightly more informed article, in the link below.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Anyone going to ACSM this year may want to check out Professors Robert Malina and Alan Rogol discuss 'Bio-banding in Youth Sport.
The session is scheduled for Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 2:10 p.m and is a chance to learn from two if the best in the field
You can read more about it here
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
US Soccer just released another video from last month's biobanded tournament. In the video James Bunce, head of development at US Soccer, explains the principles behind the concept. There are also snippets from the boys developmental academy directors, coaches, and myself discussing the concept. They do a really nice job of explaining the bio-banding serves as another game format and not as replacement for age group games.
Cheers Sean.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Stoke City just released this article n some work we have been doing with them to explore methods designed to help counter relative age effects in sport. The average team age effect seeks to counter the bias towards selecting older players (born early in the competitive year) which emerges from early childhood and is sustained through adolesence. You can read more about our project in the link below.
Just to add, it is really important to differentiate between relative age and maturation as many assume the two to be synoymous. Whereas the RAE is determined by birth date and cut off dates, maturation is largely a result of genetic inheritance. It is quite possible to be the oldest player but also a late maturer, during to your genes. Likewise, a younger player could be one of the most mature players in his age group. In our work in football we have found the correlation between RAE and maturity to be non-existent to small. The fact that the RAE can be observed form 6 years and that maturation biases do no emerge until approximately 11 years also tells you that you are dealingf with two different phenomenena which will likely requires different solutions implemented at different stages of development.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
In this podcast Tom Mura discusses the concept and application of bio-banding in youth soccer. Though the host confuses maturation with relative age (a common misconception in both the public and academic field) he also generally gives a good account of its purpose and potential advantages and disadvantages. Worth a listen if you are interested in this area
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
US soccer just tweeted their first GIF from the girls bio-banding competition. Here you see girls of different ages but within a a specific maturity band playing on the same team.
The younger yet earlier developing players get a chance to play up whereas the older but later maturing girls are playing down.
More to come in the future
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just spent a great weekend with Professor Robert Malina and Alan D Rogol helping US Soccer launch their bio-banding initiative with their developmental academies in Austin, Texas. Was great to spend time with two of the leaders in this field talking shop and hanging out. First tournament to involve both boys and girls team and appears to have been a great success. Will be interesting to see what US Soccer finds from their feedback and analyses. Initial feedback seems really promising. I have shared a couple of pictures from the tournament below.
In other news, great news for two of my graduate students. David Johnson has secured funding for a three year PhD with Bournemouth FC Academy looking at the interaction of maturation and training load and its impact on growth related injuries in football. Sean Williams and I will supervise this project working closely with Ben Bradley, Academy head of sports science at Bournemouth FC. My Masters student Harry Carman has also been successful in securing a job with Reading FC's Academy where he will apply his knowledge of growth, maturation, training load and injury to help in the development of their young players. Really pleased for both of these students who have very promising futures.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
For those of you interested in the application of bio-banding in football here are a couple of articles on the upcoming tournament that US soccer will be running this month and the rationale and history behind it. In addition to the tournament US Soccer is following the Premier Leagues lead in establishing systematic process for collecting growth and maturity data, alongside fitness and injury data across their elite level academy systems in order to better understand associations between these constructs. Could be a really valuable data set and fair play to James Bunce for initiating this, One article is if Forbes magazine and the other is from the Guardian
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just a quick update on our work. This month see's US Soccer run their first bio-banding tournament in Texas where boys and girls will be grouped into maturation bands using a similar approach that has applied in the English Premier League academy system. This tournament is the first to include girls and US soccer are looking to collect some interesting feedback from the competition using a range of techniques and technologies. I have been lucky enough to be invited to attend the event and will join two leading experts in the field of growth and maturation, Bob Malina and Alan Rogol who will also be in attendance. You can read more about the US Soccer initiative and tournament here. There is also a really nicely designed animation explaining the nature an purpose of the event
On a similar note, I came across this recent video created by a student at the University of Birmingham that also explains the purpose and nature of bio-banding. It is really well designed and makes reference to some of the work that the broader group have been doing in this area. If you are interested you can view it here
Finally, just a note to congratulates two of my graduate students, Siobhan Mitchell who successfully passed her PhD defence last month and Corinne Yorston who has accepted a position with the FA driving talent identification and development in the Women's professional league academies. I have enjoyed working closely with them and hope to continue doing so in the future.
For those of you interested in the issue of growth and maturation in dance, here is a link to the resources that Siobhan created during her placement with One Dance UK.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just come back from a visit to the Cleveland Indians spring training camp in Phoenix Arizona. Was invited to some present some of the work re the application of growth and maturation in relation to talent identification and development to a range of individuals from sports science, medicine, scouting, coaching, and the front office. My good friend and colleague Joey C Eisenmann also joined me and spoke about LTAD and its application in baseball.
Really valuable visit and it would appear many of the challenges presented by G and M across many of the sports we currently work with are equally applicable in youth baseball. It was a great couple of days and I learned a lot during the visit and the challenges of applying this work in a sports where players are not formally recruited until comparatively late in their development (14 years plus). By this time it is likely that many talented yet late developing players have already been screened out of the sport. Looking forward to working more closely with the Indians in the future.
On another note, I am pleased to welcome another new PhD student to the fold, James Parr who is a performance analyst with the Manchester United academy. Having followed United since 1977 I am especially pleased to have this opportunity. James is doing some great work looking at the the application and reliability of non-invasive indictors of maturation in youth soccer and the dynamic relations between maturation fitness/performance in academy players. James has some great data and I look forward to working with him and some of his colleagues at Manchester Met University in the coming years.
Thanks again to everyone for their continued interest in our work
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Pleased to announce that we are starting a research project with British Gymnastics looking at the interaction of training load and maturation upon injury in youth gymnasts. Our new PhD student Tejal Patel, who recently completed her Masters in exercise and physiology at Loughborough University will join our group in March 2018 as a PhD student working on the project. Tejal will be supervised by myself, Sean Williams and Louise Fawcett EIS/British Gymnastics. The project aims to better understand how to manage training load during the growth spurt in young gymnasts to avoid overusee and growth related injuries. Tejal will spend time between Bath and Lilleshall National Training Centre and will work closey with the science, coaching and sports medicine teams.
On another note, it looks like the more and more countries are looking to test the potential benefits of biobanding. For those of you who speak Polish or can use google translate I suggest you check out the following article from Legia Warsaw on Maturity differences in soccer.
There is also a nice article here from Holland exploring the concept
Finally, US soccer announced at their AGM that they will be testing the waters with Biobanding in April, hosting their first tournament in Austin Texas. I have been asked to attend to help out with the educational side of things and look forward to the visit.
Thanks again to everyone for their continued interest and support. We have a number of additional projects in the pipeline and will keep you updated as they arise.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Our work on bio-banding was recently discussed on FNR Football High performance podcast. Some good insights and discussion in the first 15 mintes around maturation and the potential pros and cons of bio-banding. If you are interested you can follow the link here...
Also wanted to share that we will are starting a project with Dan Salcedo Performance Pathway Manager at British Triathlon looking at the impact of relative age and biological maturation upon performance in male and female junior triahlon. My PhD student Siobhan Mitchell will be working on the analysis for this project. Triathlon is an interesting sport as the event at the Junior Levels is considered a sprint; whereas at the adult level the most high profile events would be conisdered to place a greater emphasis upon endurance. Accordingly, those athletes with the greatest potential for success at the junior levels (i./e., early developers) may not be the athletes with the greatest potential for success at the adult level. Given the differences in how early maturation impacts girls in terms of athleticism it will be interestin to see what kind of effects we find in their competitions. Would be interested to hearing the thoughts from those of you who have experience with this sport or in relation to maturation and performance in edndurance sports.
Thanks again for all your interest in our continued work
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Just a quick update to wish everyone who has been following our project a happy new year and extend our thanks for your interest in our work. This year should be a busy one for us as my colleagues and I look to extend our work across a range of new sports and in a number of new countries. Also looking forward to establishing a number of new collaborations and advertising some further funded studenships opportunities later in the year. Will continue to post on existing and new projects as they develop.
Thought I would also share a couple of links to articles and videos that I thought you might be interested in looking at.
This is a link to a presentation I recently gave at the Singapore National Youth Sports Insitute youth sports conference on some of our work in the area of growth and maturation. I really enjoyed my trip and was very impressed with the work the NYSI are doing in this area, particularly as it relates to refining methods for more accurate assessments of maturity in South Asian youth.
The next video is from Ben Bradley who heads up sports science at Bournemouth FC's Academy. In this video Ben discusses how they have been applying bio-banding in the context of youth football and the benefits that they believe it can produce. My current MRes student David Johnson is currently working with Ben at Bournemouth and we are in the process of analysing and writing up some of the data collected from their tournaments.
Finally, Siobhan Mitchell 's recent paper on the subject of growth and maturation in ballet and why a biocultural approach is now available online at the following link. Siobhan will be looking to publish more of the work from her PhD thesis later in the year so if you are interested in this subject then watch this space
Once agan thanks for all the continued interest and support and I will try to keep the project updated regularly thourgh the year.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Our advert for a fully funded three year PhD studensthip is now available online. This PhD is with British Gymnastics and the University of Bath and will examine how training load and maturation interact to potentially impact injury risk in youth gymnastics. Sean Williams, a leading expert in traniing load assessment, and myself will co-supervise this student with Louise Fawcett from the EIS and British Gymnastics also contributing to the supervision.
The advert can be found here
Please circulate the advert to those who you think may be interested in applying.
Thanks in advance
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all
Really excited to share this post. Professor Alan D Rogol from the Edge of Growth and Maturation hosted a conversation involving himself, Professor Robert Malina, and some of the world's leadingpediatric endocrinologists on the subject of bio-banding and growth and maturation in sports. The transcripts for this conversation are available at the following link and the organisation website, amongst other great subject conversation. This unique approach to scientific inquiry provides some really great insights, information and perspectives from some of the leading people in this field of study and are a fantastic resources for scientists and practitioners. It also provides a nice critical discussion of some contemporary topics in our field. It also give us some insight into the questions that those at the cutting edge of our field are currently considering, offering much inspiration and food for thought. You can read the bio-banding conversation hear, however, I also recommend you read many of the other conversation transcripts. Big thanks to Alan and Bob and their colleagues for making this happen
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all. Another update, this time its a link to a video of my good friend and colleague Manuel J Coelho-e-Silva from the University of Coimbra in Portugal presenting on the subject of growth and maturation at the recent Youth Athletes Forum 2017 in Switzerland. It's an excellent presentation that outlines the importance of recognising the processes of growth and maturation when working with young athletes. I first met Manuel when he was studying with Professor Robert Malina at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. Manuel has published a lot of work on the subject of growth and maturation in sport, especially in soccer, and contributed as part of the Scientific Advisory Group that helped shape the Premier League growth and maturation project. Well worth a watch.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Our most recent paper has just been published in Research in Dance Education. Entitled this review paper was led by my PhD student Siobhan Mitchell with contributions from both Professor Robert Malina and Anne M Haase from the University of Bristol. It summarises what we know from the field and provides future guidelines for research and practice in this area. Siobhan and Bob also presented on their research at the IADMS conference in Texas last week and it was great to see Siobhan receive an award for her applied work in this field. There is a lot of scope for further work in the area of growth and maturation in dance (both applied and research) it is awesome to see all the hard work that she has put in being recognised. Looking forward to the publication of more work in this area in the future.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Just got confirmation this week that we have funding for a PhD studenship looking at how variation in growth and maturation and training load interact to impact injury in youth gymnastic. More specifically, Sean Williams and I will be working with British Gymnastics to examine the extent to which more intensive training loads may serve as a risk factor during sensitive periods of growth (i.e., growth spurt) and how training might be better managed during these phases. Sean has been developing some really innovative methods for optimising the monitoring of training load in sport and I look forward to working with him on this. May also have to lean on Adam Dominic George Baxter-Jones for some advice and guidance on this project given his extensive experience studying Growth and Maturity in gymnasts. Hopefully the advert should be out in the next couple of months and we will make sure to post it here when it does. Should be a great opprtunity for a student to work alongside a leading UK sports body.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all. Spent a couple of really good days last week with the Lawn Tennis Association delivering workshops for the parents of the junior players at the National Residential camps. It was a great opportunity to share some of the insights pertaining to growth and maturation and tennis that Gillian Myburgh has found in her research and get parents up to speed on the need to consider individual differences in growth and maturation. Session went really well and some of the parents insights re the impact of growth and maturation on player development, especially from an injury perspective were really interesting. The mums and dad's play a really important role in the players development and are often the consistent factor when liaising with physics, coaches, nutritionists, and scientists so having them up to speed on the subject will hopefully be of great benefit. Really impressed with the LTA and their willingness to consider this important area of player development. Looking forward to continuing our work with them and publishing more in this area. Would be interested to know if anyone else has run G and M workshops for sports parents and the potential benefits and challenges encountered
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
The Media team at the University of Bath have kindly created a media animation to illustrate some of the work we have been doing on the subject of growth and maturation across a range of sports and activities. They have done a great job and it is nice to have our work recognised in this way. You can check out the animation here.
Just returned from a couple of weeks in the states where I met with colleagues from US Soccer and USA Football. Looking forward to an exciting year and some new collaborations, both here in the UK and overseas. Will post more news as projects develop.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all.
For those interested in some of the work we have been doing in growth and maturation, in particular our work pertaining to bio-banindg then you can hear me discuss this work with Rob Pacey who runs the science of strength website. I enjoyed chatting to Rob about our work, answering his questions, and sharing some of our insights. If you are interested in learning more you can follow this link
My colleague Rhodri Lloyd was also interviewed recently by Rob and gave a great interview on his work in relation to youth development and also discussed the idea of maturity matching as it relates to training. It is a great podcast and I highly encourage anyone with an interest in grout and maturity to give it a listen.
All the best
Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Those interested in growth and maturation, relative age and their impact on ahlete selection in sport might want to check out this excellent presentation by Adam Dominic George Baxter-Jones on a project that he and Lauren Sherar conducted for the Sport Information Research Centre in Canada. Adam presents the findings of their study and good evidence of both relative age effects and maturity selection biases. There are some good points and questions raised at the end of the talk by a panel of experts and Adam discusses how some of the challenges associated with bot relative age and maturity biases may be addressed.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
For those interested in the implications of maturational timing in dance, my PhD student Siobhan Mitchell (who I co-supervise with Anne M Haase recently presented some of her PhD work at a Qualitative methods conference in Cardiff. Whereas ballet has always been seen as the domain of the late maturing girls, Siobhan has found contrasting benefits and challenges for both early and late developers. Of particular note was that late maturing dancers appear disadvantaged in that their growth spurts occur at a later age and at a time when training loads tend to be much higher and girls are testing out for entry into more elite level programmes. Much of these findings were in accordance with the perceptions of dance instructors, which were described in an earlier paper Siobhan published in the Journal of Adolescence. These findings highlight the importance of assessing ad monitoring growth and development in young dancers and Siobhan is currently working with One Dance UK, the national govering body for dance in the United Kingdom, to develop and implement educational material, workshops and strategies around this subject. These materials will serve as part of One Dance UK's continued professionl development programmes, helping educate dance instructors on this subject and improve practice in this area. You can read more about her work here.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Hi all, for those of you interested in the broader and health related implications of maturational timing we recently published a paper on adjusting for maturational timing in relation to weight status in early adolescence. At present in the UK all year 6's (10-11 years) are assessed for weight status relative to age specific standards on the growth curves and letters are sent home to mums and dads highlighting if kids are overweight or obese (according to BMI). Recognising, that BMI naturally increases with maturity, especially during early puberty, we thought it would be interesting to compare the weight status of boys and girls in relation to both age and biological age standards. What we found was that about 30% of girls identified as overweight were re classified as being of normal weight when they were compared to the references values for their biological and not chronological age. A similar pattern was found in boys, though the degree of re classification was only about half (15%). This strategy is similar to what we have been using in sports as it relates to fitness testing, showing that when individual differences in maturation can significantly cloud our understanding of fitness and health attributes in youth. This finding may have some important implications as typically maturation is not taken into account by health practitioners and/or when reporting weight status populations statistics for most countries. It is important to note that early maturing girls do tend to be more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, however, the extent to which this is reflective of weight status in youth or long term psycho-behavioural factors (less physical activity, lower positive perceptions of the self) is yet unclear. If anyone is interested in the paper and they strategy we used you can find it here, is is published in the BMJ Open is is free to download.
 
Sean Cumming
added a research item
Individual differences in the growth and maturation have been shown to impact player performance and development in youth soccer. This study investigated Premier League academy players’ experiences of participating in a tournament bio-banded for biological maturation. Players (N = 66) from four professional soccer clubs aged 11 and 14 years and between 85–90% of adult stature participated in a tournament. Players competed in three 11 vs 11 games on a full size pitch with 25-min halves. Sixteen players participated in four 15-min focus groups and were asked to describe their experiences of participating in the bio-banded tournament in comparison to age group competition. All players described their experience as positive and recommended the Premier League integrate bio-banding into the existing games programme. In comparison to age-group competitions, early maturing players described the bio-banded games more physically challenging, and found that they had to adapt their style of play placing a greater emphasis on technique and tactics. Late maturing players considered the games to be less physically challenging, yet appreciated the having more opportunity to use, develop and demonstrate their technical, physical, and psychological competencies. Bio-banding strategies appear to contribute positively towards the holistic development of young soccer players.
Sean Cumming
added an update
First paper from our work with he Premier League entitled 'Premier League academy soccer players’ experiences of competing in a tournament bio-banded for biological maturation' is now officially published in the Journal of Sports Sciences. You can find it here. Big thanks to everyone who made this paper possible.
50 free copies available here for those interested.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Our first paper from our EPL work entitled 'Premier League Academy Football Players’ Experiences of Competing in a Tournament Bio-banded for Biological Maturation' has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Science. Big thanks to the Premier League and all the clubs, practitioners, coaches and players that helped make it happen. Will post a link when the online version is up, currently awaiting the proofs.
On another note, Simon Austin from http://trainingground.guru shared an article with me in which Marijn Beuker, Director of Performance & Development at AZ Alkmaar, is interviewed and shares his opinions on player development. In addition to discussing the subject of cognitive and motor development, he also talks about the application of bio-banding in the AZ Academy and the rationale for engaging in this strategy. You can read the interview here.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Ben Bradley, Head of Sports Science at Bournemouth Academy discusses the application and potential benefit of bio-banding in youth footballers. It's a really well written article that offers applied insight from the club's perspective. It is encouraging to see that the club's observations are consistent with those that we have found in our work. It is great to see practitioners such as Ben trial new methods and lead the way in creating innovative solutions for age old problems.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Joey C Eisenmann talks to Rob Pacey about his work with USA Football and the subject of growth and maturation and bio-banding. Discussion of growth and maturation starts at 25.00 and Joey provides some good insights as to the nature of our work on bio-banding and our findings so far.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Here is a link to a recent interview that was conducted with Professor Robert Malina in advance of his academic recognition award from NASPSPA. Bob talks about his career in academia and how he came to study the subject of growth and matruation. Professor Malina is an advisor on our scientific advsory board for the PL growth and maturation and project and is considered a world leading authority on the subject of growth and maturation in sport and exercise. His knowledge and insight has played an important role in the success of this project and the education of Academy practitioners. Bob talsk about how he came to study this area and some of the work he has and continues to do in this field
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Simon Austin from Training Ground Guru has just compleed an article on bio-banding in which he asked me to answer some of the most common questions that are posed about this subject. It was good fun to speak with Simon and I think he has done a pretty good job of conveying my feelings on the subject and helping dispel some of the common myths that surround this practice. You can read the interview here...
In other news, our first paper stemming from our Premier League work has now been accepted for publication and should be coming out relatively soon. Will post more information and links when it comes out.
Cheers Sean
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Interview with James Bunce, former head of sports science for the EPL, where he discusses his work so far as head of development for US soccer and his plans to introduce bio-banding, education and more consistent and systematic procedures for assessing and monitoring growth and maturation as one his key strategies in US youth soccer development.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Our first position paper on bio-banding and its potential application in the contexts of talent id, strenght and conditioning, and competition is now out in a special edition of Strength and Conditioning Journal. Provides some insights as to how people are experimenting with and applying this strategy across as range fo sports. Big thanks for coauthors Joey C Eisenmann Rhodri Lloyd Jon Oliver and Robert Malina for their valuable insights.
 
Sean Cumming
added a research item
Bio-banding is the process of grouping athletes on the basis of attributes associated with growth and maturation rather than chronological age. Children of the same age vary considerably in biological maturation with some individuals maturing in advance or delay of their peers. The timing of maturation has important implications for competition, talent identification, and training. Increased awareness and interest in the subject of maturation has sparked a renewed interest in the study and application of biobanding. This overview describes the purpose and process of bio-banding, potential benefits and limitations, and describes some recent advances in its application in youth sports.
Sean Cumming
added an update
Congratulations to Gillian Myburgh whose recent publication on growth, maturation and performance in elite UK tennis players was recognised as one of three significant publication in this field for 2016 by Pediatric Exercise Science. Gill is a PhD student at Bath and also works as a strength and conditioning lead for the Lawn Tennis Association.
Much like what you see in football, Gill's research found a strong selection gradient and performance advantage towards early maturing and tall youth in elite junior tennis. This bias emerged at 9 years in girls and around 11 years in males. Gill, who works for the Lawn Tennis Association is now using this information to better inform the processes of talent identifcation and development in junior tennis, employing many fo the strategies that are now being seen in football. You can read more about of Gill's papers and her findings here.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Just got back from presenting on growth and maturation at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences . Was great to have the opportunity share and discuss some of our research and practice, and try out my Norwegian after 20 plus years away. Some great work going on there and look forward to collaborating with them more in the future. Thanks especially to Pierre-Nicolas Lemyre for the invitation.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
Brian Blikenstaff from Vice Sport discusses some of our work regarding Bio-banding as part of a youth soccer podcast for Vice Sports. The conversation on bio-banding start at 16.15 and provides some insights into our work and findings so far. Brian interviewed myself and James Bunce as part of a separate article. The link to the written article can be found below.
 
Sean Cumming
added an update
James Bunce, who served as the head of sports science at the Premier League when this project was initiated has accepted the position of director of high performance with US soccer. James played a central role in the development of this project and inspired our initial experiments into bio-banding. I am sure that James will do an equally great job with US soccer and we all wish him the best for the future. James appointment is highlighted in this New York Times article and it discuss the work that we have done in relation to bio-banding. Hopefully James will continue to promote this line of work state side.
 
Amanda Johnson
added a research item
Introduction: Selection of younger athletes for advanced training in elite sport is assumed to be based on identification of innate talent. Previous researchers have identified relative age effects to influence these selection processes; however, maturation status and skeletal age effects, which have the potential to be a greater influence, have not been widely examined. Methods: Skeletal age (categorising athletes as: early maturing, on time, or late maturing via wrist and hand X-ray and Fels classification) and birth quarter are documented for 472 boys from Elite Youth football academies and compared to reference normative data to assess their effect on academy selection. Results: It is seen that maturation status has a much stronger influence – approximately 10-fold – on selection with a systematic over-representation of early maturing athletes in elite football academies, an effect that increases with age. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that athletes are being chosen in large by their maturation status, and as this relative benefit will have disappeared once all athletes are skeletally mature, this process is inadvertently excluding the majority of potential candidate athletes from this selection process. We suggest that consideration of maturation status of candidate athletes will result in a more equitable exposure to advanced training and the resultant performance benefits this incur.
Sean Cumming