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Relative age effect: implications for effective practice

Andronikos, Georgios; Elumaro, Adeboye Israel; Westbury, Tony; Martindale, Russell J. J.


Adeboye Israel Elumaro


Physical and psychological differences related to birthdate amongst athletes of the same selection year have been characterised as the “relative age effects” (RAEs). RAEs have been identified in a variety of sports, both at youth and adult level, and are linked with dropout of athletes and a reduction of the talent pool. This study examined the existence, mechanisms and possible solutions to RAEs using qualitative methodology. Seven experts in the field of talent identification and development were interviewed. Inductive analysis of the data showed that, while there was mixed evidence for the existence of RAEs across sports, the eradication of RAEs was attributed to controllable features of the development environment. The factors reported included the structure of “categories” used to group athletes within the sport (e.g. age, weight, size, skills), recognition and prioritisation of long-term development over “short term win focus.” Education of relevant parties (e.g. coaches, scouts, clubs) about RAEs and the nature of “talent” within a long-term context was suggested, along with careful consideration of the structure of the development environment (e.g. delayed selection, provision for late developers, focus on skills not results, use of challenge). Implications for research and practice are discussed.


Andronikos, G., Elumaro, A. I., Westbury, T., & Martindale, R. J. J. (2016). Relative age effect: implications for effective practice. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(12), 1124-1131.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 3, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 29, 2015
Publication Date Jun 17, 2016
Deposit Date May 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 11, 2017
Journal Journal of Sports Sciences
Print ISSN 0264-0414
Electronic ISSN 1466-447X
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 12
Pages 1124-1131
Keywords Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation; Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Public URL


Andronikos, Martindale, Elumaro & Westbury (In Review) Relative Age Effect Implications For Effective Practice (<nobr>347 Kb</nobr>)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sports Sciences on 29 Sept. 2016, available online:

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