The influence of relative age on success and dropout in male soccer players
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The consistent asymmetry in the birth-date distribution of senior professional soccer players has led us to investigate whether similar asymmetries emerge throughout youth categories in soccer. Birth dates were considered for professional players, national youth teams, youth players transferred to top teams, and regular youth league players. Kolmogorov Smirnov tests assessed differences between observed and expected birth-date distributions. Regression analyses examined the relationship between month of birth and number of participants at various levels of play in soccer. Results indicated that youth players born from August to October (the early part of the selection year), beginning in the 6-8 year age group, are more likely to be identified as talented and to be exposed to higher levels of coaching. Eventually, these players are more likely to be transferred to top teams, to play for national teams, and to become involved professionally. In comparison, players born late in the selection year tended to dropout as early as 12 years of age. Recommendations suggest a review of the 24-month age band and current methods for talent detection and selection. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 10:791-798, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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