Relative age and injury risk
The ACSM released a study investigating the risk of injury based on their relative age. During sports, athletes are generally grouped together based on age with an arbitrary cutoff. This study looked at whether those 'younger' athletes were more at risk compared to their 'older' peers.
The study assessed how many injuries were sustained and where the athlete fell in the age range. Their results demonstrated that those athletes whose birthdays were closer to the cutoff and thus were younger, chronologically, speaking were more prone to injury.
I think this study is pretty interesting in that it is demonstrating that just because athletes are the same age, does not mean that they are equal. It is important to remember that an athlete's birthday falls in one of twelve months and their may be pretty large physical differences for those that are on opposite ends of that age spectrum.
When working with youth athletes it is important to match them based on maturity and skill in practice. This is not easy to do in games, depending on the sport, we have all seen those enormous size mismatches on opposite ends of the field. But, every effort should be made to allow kids to have fun, learn a new sport and play safe.
I will be looking forward to seeing if they expand on this initial study to ascertain the effects of chronological age in sport on a larger scale and what ramifications it has not only for injury, but skill development, drop out and long term success.
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