Indexed on: 14 Aug '20Published on: 14 Aug '20Published in: PloS one
The aim of this study was to establish maturation-, age-, and sex-specific anthropometric and physical fitness percentile reference values of young elite athletes from various sports. Anthropometric (i.e., standing and sitting body height, body mass, body mass index) and physical fitness (i.e., countermovement jump, drop jump, change-of-direction speed [i.e., T-test], trunk muscle endurance [i.e., ventral Bourban test], dynamic lower limbs balance [i.e., Y-balance test], hand grip strength) of 703 male and female elite young athletes aged 8-18 years were collected to aggregate reference values according to maturation, age, and sex. Findings indicate that body height and mass were significantly higher (p<0.001; 0.95≤d≤1.74) in more compared to less mature young athletes as well as with increasing chronological age (p<0.05; 0.66≤d≤3.13). Furthermore, male young athletes were significantly taller and heavier compared to their female counterparts (p<0.001; 0.34≤d≤0.50). In terms of physical fitness, post-pubertal athletes showed better countermovement jump, drop jump, change-of-direction, and handgrip strength performances (p<0.001; 1.57≤d≤8.72) compared to pubertal athletes. Further, countermovement jump, drop jump, change-of-direction, and handgrip strength performances increased with increasing chronological age (p<0.05; 0.29≤d≤4.13). In addition, male athletes outperformed their female counterpart in the countermovement jump, drop jump, change-of-direction, and handgrip strength (p<0.05; 0.17≤d≤0.76). Significant age by sex interactions indicate that sex-specific differences were even more pronounced with increasing age. Conclusively, body height, body mass, and physical fitness increased with increasing maturational status and chronological age. Sex-specific differences appear to be larger as youth grow older. Practitioners can use the percentile values as approximate benchmarks for talent identification and development.