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UK Coaching Talent and Performance
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Improving Physical Ability Organising and Planning

Implications of Relative Age Effect on Performance, Participation and Development

It is essential that all people engaged in youth sports, from parents to coaches to talent pathway managers, are aware of the impact Relative Age Effect (RAE) can have on a participant’s short-term and long-term development. Here are some tips to raise awareness of the issues and to help limit the associated effects

Many sports use the academic year (1 September to 31 August) as the registration dates for entry into school, community, governing body talent pathways, and some professional competitions within the UK. 

While mirroring the educational system, these specific annual-age groups provide consistency for friendship groups and continuity for youngsters, and attempt to avoid large differences between children within sport to try to ensure equal competition and opportunities. 

However, this structure still leads to some children being almost one year older than others within the same annual-age group (eg a September birth compared to an August birth). This difference in age within an annual age group is defined as relative age, with the consequences being the Relative Age Effect. 

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UK Coaching Talent and Performance