Relative Age Effect In Female Club and University Hockey Players: A Quantitative and Qualitative Investigation
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Relative age effect is shown to exist in sport and is associated with the cut off dates for junior competition. However there is some debate as to whether the phenomenon exists in non-elite levels of sport. The purpose of the current investigation was to analyse the birth distribution of club and university level female field hockey players and to explore the lived experiences of players born in different halves of the school year. There were 74 (57.8%) out of 128 participates who were born in the first half of the school year. A chi square goodness of fit test revealed that this was significantly different to the expected 48.5% based on national birth statistics for England and Wales. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with players, four of which were born between September and February and four born between March and August. Analysis of these interviews revealed that the relative age effect was not the main source of attrition motive experienced by the players. Instead, relative age effect exacerbates sports attrition motives, with the players born in the second half of the year reporting more negative experiences of selection than the other four subjects born in the first half of the year. General implications suggest coaches, parents and selectors should become aware of the relative age effect when identifying talented players and developing and nurturing that talent.
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