Long-Term Athlete Development: Exploring Key Factor #3 “Developmental Age” – The Bio-banding Experience

Grouping young athletes according to chronological age is the most common method used to create training cohorts and design competition. Although convenient for sport organizations to implement, there are numerous limitations to this approach such as the fact that children of the same chronological age can differ by several years in their level of biological maturation. Differences in physical growth and psychosocial maturation within similar age groups are common and give rise to competitive inequity and increased risk of injury, which is why sport needs to ensure training, competition and recovery programs are developmentally appropriate. The concept of grouping young athletes based on physical maturity is not new. With renewed interest and motivation to design and deliver safe and effective athlete development programs, a process called “bio-banding” is being assessed in the UK and other areas of Europe.

 “Bio-banding is the process of grouping athletes on the basis of attributes associated with growth and maturation rather than chronological age. Children of the same age vary considerably in biological maturation with some individuals maturing in advance or delay of their peers. The timing of maturation has important implications for competition, talent identification, and training. Increased awareness and interest in the subject of maturation has spared a renewed interest in the study and application of bio-banding.”[1]

This webinar, led by Vicki Harber and Sylvie Beliveau, provided an overview of the purpose of bio-banding, offered a description of its measurement protocol, outlined the potential benefits and drawbacks, and finished with some examples of its application in youth sports.

>>Access the webinar recording

>>View the presentation slide deck

[1] Cumming SP, Lloyd RS, Oliver JL, Eisenmann JC, Malina RM (2017) Bio-banding in Sport: Applications to Competition, Talent Identification, and Strength and Conditioning of Youth Athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal 39(2):34-47.

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