Examining relative age effects on performance achievement and participation rates in Masters athletes
Taylor and Francis
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science
Although the relative age effect has been widely observed 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 ®], , [Google Scholar]), it is unclear whether it generalizes across the lifespan. The purpose of this study was to examine the relative age effect among a population of Masters athletes using archived data. Two successive studies examined the frequency of record-setting achievements (Study 1) and the frequency of participation entries (Study 2) at the US Masters track-and-field and swimming championships as a function of an individual's constituent year within any 5-year age category. Results of Study 1 indicated that the probability of setting a record increased if Masters athletes were in the first year, and decreased if they were in the third, fourth or fifth year, of an age category. Results of Study 2 indicated that the likelihood of participating in the National championships increased if Masters athletes were in the first or second year, and decreased if they were in the fourth or fifth year, of an age category. We highlight and discuss potential advantages afforded to Masters athletes who are relatively younger than their peers in the same 5-year age category.