Relative Age Effect In UEFA European Championship 2016



The theory called the Relative Age Effect (RAE) has been discussed in many sports for decades. It is based on the assumption that athletes born in the early months of the year have an advantage over the athletes born later in that particular year. The influence of earlier birthdate was proved particularly during adolescence, relatively younger individuals are often more advanced mentally and physically as well as in terms of fitness. Therefore, they are usually labelled as sports talents. This benefit can significantly affect the probability of being selected into elite group of athletes or national teams. In the present research, we investigated whether the effect of RAE can be proven in the players in the European Football Championship 2016. The research sample included players from all 24 participating teams (n = 552), the research data was obtained from and was analysed based on selected criteria (player position, date of birth, ranking in the groups). Statistical analysis of the research data showed that the influence of RAE is statistically significant in all players in the championship (χ2 = 69,82, p = 0.00). The analysis of the influence of RAE on rank in the group showed that the influence of the RAE. When considering the influence of the RAE on individual player positions, the effect was not significant in forward player positions (χ2 = 6,37, p = 0.09). The above results showed a similar degree of influence of RAE on adult footballers (participants of ME 2016) compared to youth age categories. RAE issues in sport can be considered as significant, especially for coaches in youth categories should be familiar with it.

birthdate; football; talent development; athletic talent; national team

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