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UK Coaching Team
Children Young people Improving Physical Ability

Growth, Maturation and Development: Implications for Coaches

Professor Kevin Till, a practising coach and talent development expert who has worked in football, cricket, rugby league and rugby union for over 15 years, shares his insight and experience on growth, maturation and development. In the first of three resources, Kevin highlights a number of key considerations for coaches and their practice

Can you remember that athlete at school, the one who dominated sports and was bigger and stronger than their peers? What happened to that athlete? Did they go on and continue to a successful sporting career? Or did they get caught up - physically? Technically? Tactically?

These characteristics of our youth can be explained by growth, maturation and development, and can help us improve our current coaching for every individual.

First, let's get on the same page with an understanding of key terms:

  • Growth is the increase in size of the body or its parts and includes height, body mass and leg length.
  • Maturation is the progress towards the mature adult state. Maturation can vary in its timing (when it happens) and tempo (how fast it occurs).
  • Development is the complex interaction between an individual's growth and maturation and how they develop emotionally, socially and cognitively.

So, growth, maturation and development all occur at the same time and can be considered in four areas, known as the SPEC model (Lara-Bercial, 2012).

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