Relative age effects despite weight categories in elite junior male wrestlers
To evaluate relative age effects (RAEs) in wrestlers at the junior world championships.
Data for wrestling athletes representing 77 different countries that participated in the junior (under 21 years of age) world championships between 2006 and 2014 were collected from a publically available source. RAEs were examined among 807 female freestyle, 1205 male freestyle, and 1202 male Greco-Roman wrestlers. Athletes were sub-categorized by weight class, as medalists, and according to the number of years active in wrestling. The observed frequency of athletes per birth quarter was compared to an even quarterly distribution using χ2 tests.
No RAEs were shown for female freestyle wrestlers. For male freestyle wrestlers, RAEs were found for the overall group, the medalists, all but the extra lightweights (under 50/55 kg), and both the least (<5 years active) and moderately (5–7 years active) experienced. For male Greco-Roman wrestlers, RAEs were shown for the overall group, the middle (under 74/84 kg) and heavy weights (under 96/120 kg), and only the moderately experienced (5–7 years active).
Despite weight categorization, junior male wrestlers are susceptible to RAEs; however, effects in the lightest and most experienced athletes may be diminished. Differences across weight categories appear to convey different trends between the male freestyle and Greco-Roman athletes. Thus, sporting organizations, training staff, and others interested in the welfare of athletes should consider the potential impact of RAEs in wrestling.
KeywordsMaturity Adolescence Combat sports Talent Sex Body mass
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