Player-labelling as a solution to overcome maturation selection biases in youth football

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The fact that potentially skilled, but biologically later-maturing athletes are less likely to be selected into talent development programmes (TDP) can represent a failure of Talent Identification (TID) in sports. To overcome maturation selection biases, maturation independent TID should be established to include less mature, but talented athletes in TDP more frequently. Using a randomised parallel-group design, this study aimed to evaluate the effect of labelling under-11 (U11) Swiss male youth football players (n = 24, age = 11.0 ± 0.3 years) via maturation-ordered shirt numbers during rank assessment by talent scouts (n = 83, scout experience = 4.8 ± 2.4 years). Following observation of video recorded selection tournaments, player-labelling "informed" scouts were significantly more likely to rank less mature players higher on their player potential, t(81) = 2.57, p = .012, d = -0.6, 95% CI [-1.00, -0.13], than "uninformed" scouts. As altered rankings assisted less mature players, player-labelling may offer a practical and feasible strategy to improve TID by removing possible maturation selection biases. To address maturation selection biases and the potential positive impact of player-labelling more broadly, further research on both male and female athletes in various age categories and sports contexts is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
ISSN0264-0414
DOIs
Publication statusElectronically/ online published ahead of print - 15.08.2022

ID: 7001130

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