Age of Peak Competitive Performance of Elite Athletes: A Systematic Review
- 2.6k Downloads
Knowledge of the age at which elite athletes achieve peak performance could provide important information for long-term athlete development programmes, event selection and strategic decisions regarding resource allocation.
The objective of this study was to systematically review published estimates of age of peak performance of elite athletes in the twenty-first century.
We searched SPORTDiscus, PubMed and Google Scholar for studies providing estimates of age of peak performance. Here we report estimates as means only for top (international senior) athletes. Estimates were assigned to three event-type categories on the basis of the predominant attributes required for success in the given event (explosive power/sprint, endurance, mixed/skill) and then plotted by event duration for analysis of trends.
For both sexes, linear trends reasonably approximated the relationships between event duration and estimates of age of peak performance for explosive power/sprint events and for endurance events. In explosive power/sprint events, estimates decreased with increasing event duration, ranging from ~27 years (athletics throws, ~1–5 s) to ~20 years (swimming, ~21–245 s). Conversely, estimates for endurance events increased with increasing event duration, ranging from ~20 years (swimming, ~2–15 min) to ~39 years (ultra-distance cycling, ~27–29 h). There was little difference in estimates of peak age for these event types between men and women. Estimations of the age of peak performance for athletes specialising in specific events and of event durations that may best suit talent identification of athletes can be obtained from the equations of the linear trends. There were insufficient data to investigate trends for mixed/skill events.
Differences in the attributes required for success in different sporting events likely contribute to the wide range of peak-performance ages of elite athletes. Understanding the relationships between age of peak competitive performance and event duration should be useful for tracking athlete progression and talent identification.
KeywordsEndurance Event Elite Athlete Event Duration Peak Performance Tennis Player
Compliance with ethical standards
Neither author (Sian V. Allen or Will G. Hopkins) has any conflicts of interest to declare with regard to this publication. No funding was received for the conduct of this review and/or the preparation of this manuscript.
- 3.Sokolovas G. When will you peak? Swimming World Magazine. 2006;47:37–8.Google Scholar
- 8.Gabbard C. Lifelong motor development. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings; 2004.Google Scholar
- 11.Fair RC. Estimated age effects in baseball. J Quant Anal Sports. 2008;4(1):article 1. doi: 10.2202/1559-0410.1074.
- 14.Kovalchik SA. The older they rise the younger they fall: Age and performance trends in men’s professional tennis from 1991 to 2012. J Quant Anal Sports. 2014;10:99–107.Google Scholar
- 15.Rüst CA, Knechtle B, Rosemann T, et al. Sex difference in race performance and age of peak performance in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship from 1983 to 2012. Extrem Physiol Med. 2012;1(1):15. doi: 10.1186/2046-7648-1-15.
- 17.Brander JA, Egan EJ, Yeung L. Estimating the effects of age on NHL player performance. J Quant Anal Sports. 2014;10:241–59.Google Scholar
- 24.Anderson A. Early identification of talent in cyclo-cross by estimating age-independent ability via probit regression. Int J Perform Anal Sport. 2014;14:153–61.Google Scholar
- 26.Tilinger P, Kovář K, Hlavatá P. A study on the dynamic progress of performances of prominent world-class athletes in selected track-and-field events. Kinesiology. 2005;37:92–8.Google Scholar
- 28.Tiruneh G. Age and winning professional golf tournaments. J Quant Anal Sports. 2010;6. doi: 10.2202/1559-0410.1209.
- 29.Hopkins WG. Spreadsheets for analysis of controlled trials with adjustment for a predictor. Sportscience. 2006;10:46–50.Google Scholar
- 33.Bartlett R. Introduction to sports biomechanics: analysing human movement patterns. 2nd ed. Oxford: Routledge; 2007.Google Scholar
- 34.Barbosa TM, Costa MJ, Marinho DA. Proposal of a deterministic model to explain swimming performance. Int J Swim Kinet. 2013;2:1–54.Google Scholar
- 36.Balyi I. Specialization in sport, a tricky business. Canadian Sport For Life; 2010. http://canadiansportforlife.ca/sites/default/files/resources/C1%20Specialization.pdf. Accessed 22 Sept 2014.
- 40.Baxter-Jones ADG, Sherar LB. Growth and maturation. In: Armstrong N, editor. Paediatric exercise physiology. Edinburgh: Elsevier Limited; 2006. p. 1–30.Google Scholar