The Relative Age Effect in German Elite Youth Soccer: Implications for a Successful Career.

TitelThe Relative Age Effect in German Elite Youth Soccer: Implications for a Successful Career.
MedientypJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AutorenSkorski S, Skorski S, Faude O, Hammes D, Meyer T
JournalInt J Sports Physiol Perform
Start Page370

PURPOSE: We investigated whether anthropometric profiles and fitness measures vary according to birth date distribution in the German national youth soccer teams. It was further analysed if there is a difference in the chance of becoming a professional soccer player depending on birth quarter (BQ).

METHODS: 554 players were divided into 6 age groups (U16-U21), each subdivided into 4 BQs. Every player performed at least one 30m-Sprint, Counter-Movement Jump (CMJ) and an incremental test to determine individual anaerobic threshold (IAT). For players performing more than one test within a team, the best one was included. Since some players were part of several different teams, a total of 832 data sets from 495 individual soccer players, all born between 1987 and 1995 divided into six age categories (U16 to U21) were included.

RESULTS: Overall, more players were born in BQ1 compared with players in all other BQs (P < 0.05). No significant difference between BQ could be observed in any anthropometric or performance characteristics (P > 0.18). Players born in BQ4 were more likely to become professional compared to BQ1 (odds ratio: 3.04; Cl: 1.53-6.06).

CONCLUSION: A relative age effect exists in elite German youth soccer but it is not explained by an advantage in anthropometric or performance-related parameters. Younger players selected into national teams have a greater chance to become professional later in their career.

Alternate JournalInt J Sports Physiol Perform
PubMed ID26308489
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