The Relative Age Effect on Soccer Players in Formative Stages with Different Sport Expertise Levels

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Alba Praxedes, Alberto Moreno, Luis Garcia-Gonzalez, David Pizarro, Fernando Del Villar

The Relative Age Effect (RAE) in sport has been targeted by many research studies. The objective of this study was to analyze, in amateur clubs, the RAE of soccer players, according to the sport expertise level of the team (e.g., A, B, C and subsequent) that they belong to within the same game category. 1,098 soccer players in formative stages took part in the study, with ages varying between 6 and 18 years old (U8 to U19 categories). All of them were members of 4 Spanish federated clubs. The birth dates were classified into 4 quartiles (Q1 = Jan-Mar; Q2 = Apr-Jun; Q3 = Jul-Sept; Q4 = Oct-Dec) according to the team they belonged to. The results obtained in the chi-squared test and d value (effect size) revealed the existence of RAE in the teams with the highest expertise level, “A” (X2 = 15.342, p = .002, d = 0.4473) and “B” (X2 = 10.905, p = .012, d = 0.3657). However, in the lower level teams, “C and subsequent”, this effect was not observed. Present findings show that players born during the first months of the year tend to be selected to play in teams with a higher sport expertise level of each category, due to their physical maturity. Consequently, this causes differences in terms of the experience they accumulate and the motivation that this creates in these players.
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0100
Key words
relative age effect, sports training, soccer, talent identification

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