Growth and maturation in elite youth tennis player

  • Gillian Myburgh

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Tennis has evolved from a sport of skill and finesse into a fast paced, explosive sport. High levels of physical fitness, amongst other attributes, underpin performance. Identifying and developing the most suitable candidates for long-term success is a concept employed by many National Governing Bodies. This process involves the implementation of assessment protocols at various points along the developmental pathway. These protocols are often implemented during late childhood and early adolescence, a time period fraught with a number of physical and physiological changes associated with individual variation in growth and maturation. The aim of this thesis was therefore to determine the effects of growth and maturation of elite British youth tennis players and provide appropriate methods of assessment to enhance selection and inform training practices. Chapter 3 examined the validity of two non-invasive maturity assessment methods in relation to skeletal hand-wrist assessment. Relations between skeletal age and percentage of predicted adult height were found to be limited, and relations between skeletal age and predicted age at peak height velocity were poor. Chapter 4 detailed the growth and maturity characteristics of elite British youth tennis players. The findings suggest that a selection bias exists towards elite youth tennis players who present greater physical size and/or advanced maturity. Chapter 5 investigated the effects of biological maturation on certain physical performance indicators. Advanced maturers of both sexes were found to possess an advantage in certain measures of strength, power, speed and agility. Chapter 6 used historical fitness testing data to create age and sex specific developmental curves for acceleration. Player performance relative to these standards was then compared across chronological and biological age, i.e. maturational age. Maturity status was found to impact the percentiles achieved, highlighting the need for maturity to be accounted for in physical assessment protocols.
Date of Award19 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSean Cumming (Supervisor) & Keith Stokes (Supervisor)


  • Youth
  • Tennis
  • Biological Maturity

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