Relative Age Effects in Athletic Sprinting and Corrective Adjustments as a Solution for Their Removal

Romann, Michael; Cobley, Stephen (2015). Relative Age Effects in Athletic Sprinting and Corrective Adjustments as a Solution for Their Removal PLoS One, 10(4), pp. 1-12. Public Library of Science (PLoS) 10.1371/journal.pone.0122988

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Relative Age Effects (RAEs) refer to the selection and performance differentials between children and youth who are categorized in annual-age groups. In the context of Swiss 60m athletic sprinting, 7761 male athletes aged 8 – 15 years were analysed, with this study examining whether: (i) RAE prevalence changed across annual age groups and according to performance level (i.e., all athletes, Top 50%, 25% & 10%); (ii) whether the relationship between relative age and performance could be quantified, and corrective adjustments applied to test if RAEs could be removed. Part one identified that when all athletes were included, typical RAEs were evident, with smaller comparative effect sizes, and progressively reduced with older age groups. However, RAE effect sizes increased linearly according to performance level (i.e., all athletes – Top 10%) regardless of age group. In part two, all athletes born in each quartile, and within each annual age group, were entered into linear regression analyses. Results identified that an almost one year relative age difference resulted in mean expected performance differences of 10.1% at age 8, 8.4% at 9, 6.8% at 10, 6.4% at 11, 6.0% at 12, 6.3% at 13, 6.7% at 14, and 5.3% at 15. Correction adjustments were then calculated according to day, month, quarter, and year, and used to demonstrate that RAEs can be effectively removed from all performance levels, and from Swiss junior sprinting more broadly. Such procedures could hold significant implications for sport participation as well as for performance assessment, evaluation, and selection during athlete development.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen SFISM > EHSM - Leistungssport > Trainingswissenschaft


Romann, Michael0000-0003-4139-2955 and
Cobley, Stephen




Public Library of Science (PLoS)




Service Account

Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2020 16:21

Last Modified:

03 Nov 2023 09:57

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Athlete development Talent identification Track & field Youth competition Relative age effect




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