Biological maturity vs. the relative age effect in soccer
This is a summary of the insights from the research paper "One of these things is not like the other: Time to differentiate between relative age and biological maturity selection biases in soccer?".
The relative age and biological maturity are often confused as being the same concepts or used interchangeably, but what are the differences exactly? 🤔
ℹ️ Research shows that the relative age and biological maturity are best seen as 2 separate concepts influencing the talent development process in soccer clubs & academies.
- Biological maturation is the process of a person achieving a fully mature state in a biological context.
📈 Differences in maturation are due to genetic and environmental factors. The adolescent growth spurt (i.e. Peak Height Velocity = PHV) usually occurs between the ages of 11-15. The timing of this spurt differs from individual to individual, resulting in children (of the same chronological age) varying as much as 5 years in terms of skeletal age!
- The relative age effect is the over-representation of academy and professional players born in the first quarter.
📊 It was (and still is) often thought that players born in the first months of the year benefit from advanced maturation.
- The relative age effect is more prominent in early- and mid-childhood, whereas biological maturation becomes more important during late childhood and early adolescence (i.e. 11-12 years).
🧑🤝🧑 Bio-banding is a solution for the biological maturation differences of athletes and should only be implemented in the later stages of childhood or during adolescence.
➡️ In the Hylyght platform, we have estimation models to assess the maturity status of players. We collaborate with several clubs & federations to implement bio-banding to improve talent identification & overall athlete development.