In comparison to chronological age, the classification of biological age is far more complex. This form of age is often determined differently depending on whether the exercise professional is calculating the biological age or status of a pre-adolescent, adolescent or adult. Though the biological status of adults can be accurately estimated, this requires medical expertise and extensive assessments (1, 2). On the other hand, the biological age or maturity offset of youths can be determined using non-invasive anthropometric measures that require minimal equipment (3).
Analysing the biological status of a young athlete is typically done by calculating the maturity offset of the individual (predicted years from peak height velocity) by using several anthropometric measures – in most circumstances by using: age, standing height, sitting height and leg length (3). By objectively measuring the maturity offsets of a group of young athletes, training groups can be restructured according to their biologic status as opposed to their chronologic age. This allows young athletes to be categorised based upon their physical and psychological status and/or training goals (4).
Availability is often the primary issue with categorising athletes based upon their biological age, especially when working with youth team-based athletes who have set sport-specific (technical) training times based on their chronological age. However, often like their technical training schedules whereby athletes are often moved up or down age groups based on technical qualities, similar principles should perhaps also be applied for their physical training programmes – i.e. athletes should be placed into groups with others who have a similar biological maturity.