Basketball Performance Is Related to Maturity and Relative Age in Elite Adolescent Players


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Abstract

Torres-Unda, J, Zarrazquin, I, Gravina, L, Zubero, J, Seco, J, Gil, SM, Gil, J, and Irazusta, J. Basketball performance is related to maturity and relative age in elite adolescent players. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1325–1332, 2016—During a national championship, the anthropometric, physiological, and maturation characteristics of 13- to 14-year-old players of elite basketball teams and their association with sport performance were analyzed. Body parameters (weight, height, skinfold thicknesses, and lengths) were measured and physiological capacities assessed by sprint (20 m) and jump tests (i.e., countermovement jump with arm swing). Chronological age (CA) and maturity offset (years from age at peak height velocity; YAPHV) were calculated, and then predicted age at peak height velocity, as the difference between CA and YAPHV. Game performance was assessed with point averages and the performance index rating (PIR). The birth-date distribution of players was biased, those born early in the selection year outnumbering those born later. Anthropometric analysis indicated that players who performed better had longer body lengths. Physiological testing showed that semi-finalists had better sprint performance than quarter-finalists and those players with greater jump capacity scored more points. Early maturation and advanced maturity status were also associated with better PIR and scored points per game. Multiple blockwise regression analysis showed that, among the factors analyzed, YAPHV was the best predictor of basketball performance. In conclusion, around puberty, physical and physiological parameters associated with maturity and CA are important in determining the success of elite basketball players. Consequently, boys who are born in the second half of the year and/or late maturing tend to be marginalized or totally excluded, and not given the chance to play under equal conditions; their careers may then be held back by the relative disadvantage associated with inexperience.

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