The relative age effect in female gymnastics: A flip-flop phenomenon

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Date
2015
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International Journal of Sport Psychology
Abstract
Relative age effects are pervasive throughout sport; however, little is known about how relative age interacts with other mechanisms of expert performance such as sports characterized by young ages for peak performance. The purpose of this study was to examine relative age effects in gymnastics, a sport where athletes reach peak performance during puberty. Examining the birthdates of 921 female gymnasts, we discovered no relative age effects for the collective sample. Dividing the sample into two groups, we noted a relative age effect for under-15 gymnasts, but a reverse effect for over-15 gymnasts. Inspecting competitive standards, we noted over-representations of over-15 athletes born in the fourth quartile at all standards except national. In the discussion, we highlight the complexity of relative age effects by incorporating deliberate practice and competition standard as variables for consideration.
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by International Journal of Sport Psychology, available online: http://www.ijsp-online.com/abstract/view/46/714.
Keywords
sport, female, talent development, birth date
Citation
David J. Hancock, Janet L. Starkes, & Diane M. Ste-Marie (2015). The relative age effect in female gymnastics: A flip-flop phenomenon, International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46, 714-725
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