The Relative Age Effect Among Elite American Youth Soccer Players

Glamser, Francis D.; Vincent, John
March 2004
Journal of Sport Behavior;Mar2004, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p31
Academic Journal
A large body of research has shown that month of birth can have a substantial effect on sport achievement when children are grouped by age. Children born early' in the selection year have an advantage that has been termed the relative age effect. This study investigated the relative age effect among a population of elite male youth soccer players born in 1984. These players were considered by the Olympic Development Program to be the most talented players in the United States. Of the 147 boys in the study, almost 70% were born in the first half of the year. Players were three times as likely to have a birthday in the first quarter of the year as in the last, and were over five times as likely to have a January birthday as a December birthday This study supports the conclusion that the relative age effect is a major factor in the selection of elite soccer players in the United States as has been found in other countries. The impact of that effect is so great as to suggest that some modification of the ODP selection system is required.


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