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Posted 11/04/2023

The Relative Age Effect in Sport

Manchester Piccadilly, Piccadilly Station Approach, Greater, Manchester M60 7RA, UK

The Relative Age Effect in Sport

The Relative Age Effect is a phenomenon observed in sports, especially in junior levels, where athletes born in the earlier months of the selection year tend to have an advantage over those born later in the year. 

This effect occurs because age group eligibility for youth sports is typically determined by calendar year, so athletes born in the first few months of the year are relatively older than their peers within the same age group.

The Relative Age Effect can result in several consequences, such as:

1)    Older athletes may have a slight physical and cognitive advantage due to their additional months of development, which can make them stand out in the early stages of their sports development.

2)    Coaches and talent scouts might be more likely to select and invest in athletes who are physically more mature, leading to increased opportunities and better resources for the relatively older athletes.

3)    Early success can boost the confidence and motivation of relatively older athletes, while younger athletes may experience setbacks and reduced motivation, potentially affecting their long-term development.

It's important to be aware of the Relative Age Effect to ensure fair and equitable opportunities for all young athletes. 

Sporting organizations and coaches have developed strategies to mitigate the effects of the Relative Age Effect, such as adjusting age groupings, using birthdate cutoffs, and focusing on long-term athlete development rather than short-term success.

If you would like to learn more about the Relative Age Effect it is always best to speak to an expert,  

You can search for a sport psychologist or coach on sportingbounce.com, the global directory of sport performance specialists. 

Manchester Piccadilly, Piccadilly Station Approach, Greater, Manchester M60 7RA, UK

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