Growth and maturity status of elite British junior tennis players

Gillian K. Myburgh, Sean P. Cumming, Manuel Coelho-e-Silva, Karl Cooke, Robert M. Malina

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Growth and maturation impact the selection, development and progression of youth athletes. Individual differences in the growth and maturity may afford a performance advantage, clouding coaches and practitioners’ perceptions regarding current ability and future potential. This may result in the exclusion of talented, yet less physically gifted athletes. Participants were 91 male (n = 47) and female (n = 44) elite British Junior tennis players, 8–17 years of age (12.5 ± 1.9 years). Height and body mass were measured and compared to growth charts; hand-wrist radiographs were taken. Skeletal age (SA) was estimated with the Fels method and contrasted to chronological age (CA). Mean height and body mass of individual players ranged between the 50th and 90th centiles for age and sex. Females were advanced in SA relative to CA (0.3–0.89 years.) from 8 years. Males were average to delayed in maturation from 8 to 12 years, but advanced in SA from 14 to 16 years (0.75–1.23 years). Individual differences in growth and maturation appear to contribute towards the selection of elite junior tennis players, with a bias towards males and females who are advanced in maturation and comparatively tall and heavy for their age. This has important implications for talent identification and development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1957-1964
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number20
Early online date1 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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