The Influence of Growth, Maturation and Relative Age on the Physical Fitness of Adolescent Schoolchildren

  • Corinne Yorston

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


For those people working with youth populations, such as schoolteachers and coaches, who aim to develop and evaluate the physical fitness and activity levels of young people, there are challenges that arise during the dynamic adolescent period. Many of these challenges stem from individual differences in growth and maturation. The purpose of this thesis was to describe age-related changes in physical fitness in male and female youth, determine the contribution of relative age and maturation to fitness performance, create a developmentally adjusted strategy for more accurately evaluating fitness in youth populations and explore the use of a bio-banding strategy as a tool for developing youth fitness. Specifically, this thesis investigated the performance of adolescent schoolchildren in a variety of fitness tests that are routinely applied in athletic, elite populations. Chapters Four (males) and Five (females) evaluated the main and interactive effects of relative age and biological maturation upon fitness test performance in the schoolchildren. In both males and females, relative age and biological maturation were found to act independently from one and another on fitness performance. No interactive effects of relative age and maturation upon fitness were observed, with exception of upper body strength in males. Chapters Five and Six (males and females, respectively) used the physical fitness data to generate trajectories of age standards and investigated the extent to which biological maturity status impacted fitness relative to these trajectories. For both the male and female cohorts, evaluations of fitness performance varied relative to biological and chronological age. Chapter Seven examined the degree to which bio-banding restricted variance in body size and fitness performance in the schoolchildren. Bio-banding had a greater impact on the variation in fitness performance in the females than it did in the males. These findings highlight the importance to consider individual differences when evaluating the physical fitness performance of adolescents.
Date of Award17 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSean Cumming (Supervisor) & Grant Trewartha (Supervisor)

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