This study aimed to: (1) examine differences in physical performance across birth-quartiles and maturity-status, and (2) determine the relationships among relative age, maturation and physical performance in young male soccer players. The sample included 199 males aged between 8.1 and 18.9 years, from two professional soccer academies in the English Football League. Data were collected for height, weight, self-reported biological parent heights, 30 m sprint time and countermovement jump (CMJ) height. Relative age was conveyed as a decimal, while maturity status was determined as the percentage of predicted adult height (PAH). There were no significant differences in any measure between birth quartiles, however early maturers outperformed on-time and later maturers in most performance measures. Pearson-product-moment correlations revealed that maturation was inversely associated with 30 m sprint time in U12 to U16 (r = −0.370–0.738; p < 0.05), but only positively associated with CMJ performance in U12 (r = 0.497; p < 0.05). In contrast, relative age was unrelated to sprint performance and only significantly associated with superior CMJ performance in U16. This study indicates that maturity has a greater association with sprint performance than relative age in English male academy soccer players. Practitioners should monitor and assess biological maturation in young soccer players to attempt to control for the influence on physical performance, and avoid biasing selection on absolute performance rather than identifying the most talented player.
- Countermovement jump
- Predicted adult height
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation