Gender, age, and sport differences in the relative age effects among USA Masters swimming and track and field athletes

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Originally published as: Medic, N., Young, B. W., Starkes, J. L., Weir, P. L., & Grove, J. R. (2009). Gender, age, and sport differences in relative age effects among US Masters swimming and track and field athletes. Journal of sports sciences, 27(14), 1535-1544. Original available here


A relative age effect has been identified in Masters sports (Medic, Starkes, & Young, 2007 Medic, N., Starkes, J. L. and Young, B. W. 2007. Examining relative age effects on performance achievement and participation rates of Masters athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25: 1377–1384. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]). Since gender, age, and type of sport have been found to influence the relative age effect in youth sports (Musch & Grondin, 2001 Musch, J. and Grondin, S. 2001. Unequal competition as an impediment to personal development: A review of the relative age effect in sport. Developmental Review, 21: 147–167. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]), we examined how these three variables influenced possible relative age effects among Masters swimmers and track and field athletes. Using archived data between 1996 and 2006, frequency of participation entries and record-setting performances at the US Masters championships were examined as a function of an individual's constituent year within any 5-year age category. Study 1 investigated the frequency of Master athletes who participated; Study 2 examined the frequency of performance records that were set across constituent years within an age category, while accounting for the distribution of participation frequencies. Results showed that a participation-related relative age effect in Masters sports is stronger for males, that it becomes progressively stronger with each successive decade of life, and that it does not differ across track and field and swimming. In addition, a performance-related relative age effect in Masters sport seems to be stronger for swimming than track and field, but it does not differ across gender and decades of life




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