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Purpose: To determine the effect of biological maturation on athletic movement competency as measured using the Athletic Ability Assessment-6. Methods: Fifty-two junior Australian Rules football players were split into 3 groups based on proximity to peak height velocity, while 46 senior players were split into 2 groups based on playing status. The subjects completed the Athletic Ability Assessment-6 (inclusive of the overhead squat, double lunge, single-leg Romanian dead lift, push-up, and chin-up). All subjects were filmed and retrospectively assessed by a single rater. A 1-way analysis of variance and effect-size statistics (Cohen d) with corresponding 90% confidence intervals were used to describe between-groups differences in the component movement scores. The statistical significance was set a priori at P < .05. Results: There were significant between-groups differences for all component movements (P < .05). Post hoc testing revealed that older, more mature subjects possessed greater competency in all movements except the overhead squat. The effect sizes revealed predominantly moderate to very large differences in competency between the senior and junior groups (range of d [90% confidence interval]: 0.70 [0.06 to 1.30] to 3.01 [2.18 to 3.72]), with unclear to moderate differences found when comparing the 3 junior groups (0.08 [−0.50 to 0.65] to 0.97 [0.22–1.61]). Conclusions: The findings suggest that biological maturation may be associated with changes in athletic movement competency in youth Australian Rules football players. Therefore, it is recommended that strength and conditioning coaches monitor maturity status when working with 12- to 15-y-old players. This can allow for a comparison of an individual’s athletic movement competency to maturity-based standards and help guide developmentally appropriate training programs.
Rogers, Parfitt, Burgess, and Eston are with the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Rogers and McKeown are with the Port Adelaide Football Club, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Burgess is also with the Melbourne Football Club, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.