Biological Age vs Developmental Age. How does this effect sport?
To create real opportunity in sport an athlete has to be on the right program, regardless of the level of competition… age is a major factor in program design. But when we consider the age of the athlete it’s not as cut and dry as you would think.
An athlete’s training program must be sport specific, it should also address the physical needs of the individual athlete and it must be appropriate for the athlete’s age but age is not as simple as you may think.
First you have chronological age, which is simply how old you are according to time.
Then there is Biological age OR Developmental age: This is the rate of physical, mental and emotional maturity.
And you also have training age; The amount of time an athlete has spent in an organized athletic training and competitive program.
This all seems very basic until you realize that virtually all sport development programs are based on an athletes Chronological age.
The problem is not all athletes develop at the same rate… in fact you can have athletes between 10 and 16 who are the same chronological age but their developmental age can be 4 to 5 years apart.
Think of it, you have a 12 year old athlete that could be…yes 12, but that same 12 year old could also be as young as 9 or as old as 15 developmentally.
And this is where the typical sport system becomes terribly flawed… grouping athletes according to age rather than ability and physical maturity. We have to be aware that the training needs of an early developer are much different than those of a late developer both physically and mentally.
In age tiered systems the more developed kids are often held back and the late developers are over matched.
True there is a lot to be said for just getting kids out to play but when you are looking at the next team tryout just remember if some of the young athletes appear less talented it may be because developmentally they are 4-5 years younger.
Have you had any experiences with this, I would love to hear about it, leave your comment below.