Exploring the existence, strength, and independence of relative age and maturation selection biases: a case study in Gaelic football talent development programmes

F. Fitzgerald, M. Campbell, P. E. Kearney, S. Cumming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Biological maturity and relative age player selection biases are well documented in youth sports. However, there has been limited examination of the relationship between these biases. Aim: This study investigated the presence, strength, and independence of relative age and biological maturity selection biases in Gaelic football. Subjects and methods: A total of 247 male players from U14 to U16, from two talent academies were assessed for relative age (decimal age (DA)) and biological maturity (discrepancy between biological and chronological age (BA-CA)). Results: Relative age effects (RAE) were observed in the U14 (DA = 0.62, d = 0.40) and U15 squads (DA = 0.57. d = 0.26) only. A bias towards advanced maturity status was present at U14 (BA-CA = 0.60, d = 0.83), U15 (BA-CA = 0.78, d = 0.89), and U16 (BA-CA, d = 1.01). There was a trivial (U14, r(83) = −0.210; U15, r(88) = 0.060) and low (U16, r(76) = 0.352) correlation between relative age and maturity status. Conclusion: Substantial maturity selection biases and, to a lesser degree, relative age biases are evident in youth Gaelic football. Critically, these biases are independent constructs. Coaches and policy makers should be educated on the distinct influences of relative age and maturation, and on strategies to address these biases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2349040
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2024


The authors gratefully acknowledge the participants and coaches in both county talent academies, for their assistance in completing this study.


  • Gaelic games
  • growth
  • maturation
  • relative age effect
  • talent identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Physiology
  • Ageing
  • Genetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this