Bio-Banding in Youth Sports: Background, Concept, and Application

Abstract

Inter-individual differences in size, maturity status, function, and behavior among youth of the same chronological age (CA) have long been a concern in grouping for sport. Bio-banding is a recent attempt to accommodate maturity-associated variation among youth in sport. The historical basis of the concept of maturity-matching and its relevance to youth sport, and bio-banding as currently applied are reviewed. Maturity matching in sport has often been noted but has not been systematically applied. Bio-banding is a recent iteration of maturity matching for grouping youth athletes into ‘bands’ or groups based on characteristic(s) other than CA. The percentage of predicted young adult height at the time of observation is the estimate of maturity status of choice. Several applications of bio-banding in youth soccer have indicated positive responses from players and coaches. Bio-banding reduces, but does not eliminate, maturity-associated variation. The potential utility of bio-banding for appropriate training loads, injury prevention, and fitness assessment merits closer attention, specifically during the interval of pubertal growth. The currently used height prediction equation requires further evaluation.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Although Crampton is given credit for coining the term “physiological age”, he indicated that the credit “…properly belongs to … Franz Boas, who, with G. Stanley Hall and Luther H. Gulick, gave the author [Crampton] the encouragement of their approval and interest” (p. 52) [92]. Boas was an anthropologist with a primary interest in the study of growth and especially adolescence, Hall was a psychologist who focused on adolescence, and Gulick was a physician active in school physical education and physical training.

  2. 2.

    Krogman worked under the direction of T.W. Todd at Western Reserve University in Cleveland in the 1930s; skeletal maturity was likely assessed with the atlas method of Todd [27], which was in the process of development at this time.

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Correspondence to Robert M. Malina.

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No funding was provided to any of the authors for this review. The research on Portuguese youth soccer players used in several tables was supported in part by Fundação para Ciência e a Tecnologia.

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Robert Malina, Alan Rogol, Manuel Coelho-e-Silva, Antonio Figueiredo, Jan Konarski, and Sławomir Kozieł declare that they have no conflicts of interest. Sean Cumming has worked in research and consultancy roles with the Premier League, the English Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association, and British Gymnastics.

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Malina, R.M., Cumming, S.P., Rogol, A.D. et al. Bio-Banding in Youth Sports: Background, Concept, and Application. Sports Med 49, 1671–1685 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01166-x

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