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The Relative Age Effect in Sport: A Developmental Systems Model

Authors
  • Wattie, Nick1
  • Schorer, Jörg2
  • Baker, Joseph3
  • 1 University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON, L1H 7K4, Canada , Oshawa (Canada)
  • 2 University of Oldenburg, Institute of Sport Science, Oldenburg, Germany , Oldenburg (Germany)
  • 3 York University, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, Toronto, ON, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Sports Medicine
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Aug 29, 2014
Volume
45
Issue
1
Pages
83–94
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s40279-014-0248-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The policies that dictate the participation structure of many youth sport systems involve the use of a set selection date (e.g. 31 December), which invariably produces relative age differences between those within the selection year (e.g. 1 January to 31 December). Those born early in the selection year (e.g. January) are relatively older—by as much as 12 months minus 1 day—than those born later in the selection year (e.g. December). Research in the area of sport has identified a number of significant developmental effects associated with such relative age differences. However, a theoretical framework that describes the breadth and complexity of relative age effects (RAEs) in sport does not exist in the literature. This paper reviews and summarizes the existing literature on relative age in sport, and proposes a constraints-based developmental systems model for RAEs in sport.

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