Therefore, it is believed that calculating a child’s onset of PHV can enable the strength and conditioning coach or sports scientist to tailor the training programme in synchronisation with the athlete’s biological age as opposed to their chronological age – this may result in a better suited and more effective training programme (1). For example, evidence has suggested that preadolescents benefited most from training modes which require a high-levels of neural activation (sprint training and plyometrics), whereas adolescents responded better to training types which target both neural and structural development (strength training and plyometrics) (11).
It is also relatively well-understood that adolescents respond more favourably to muscle hypertrophy training than preadolescents due to the higher concentrations of certain hormones – namely testosterone and growth hormone (12, 13). Furthermore, upon the onset of the adolescent growth spurt, boys typically experience greater maturational improvements in all aspect of fitness than girls (e.g. strength and power) – except from flexibility (14). Providing these ‘periods of accelerated adaptation’ truly exist, they would help sports scientists to maximise the physical capacity/potential of their athletes’.
Though this information expresses some of the primary factors associated with the PHV and its importance to athletic development, it does not discuss how training should be manipulated in order to optimise athletic development. For a more in-depth discussion on that topic click the following link – Youth S&C (coming soon).
How to Measure Peak Height Velocity
The age at which a child is expected to achieve PHV can be calculated using the ‘maturity offset’ value. In other words, the maturity offset allows you to predict what age the child will achieve PHV. There are several ways to measure a child’s maturity offset, however, some require either genital assessment or radiography (i.e. x-rays). Consequently, a simple and non-invasive method for predicting physical maturation has been developed (15). This method of calculating the maturity offset can be completed by recording the following information:
- Date of Birth
- Date of Measurement
- Standing Height (cm)
- Sitting Height (cm)
- Weight (kg)
Note: Accuracy of these measures is of upmost importance, any errors will drastically affect the precision of the prediction. A detailed description of the accurate measurement protocols can be found in the attached PDF article below. And, the attached Excel workbook allows you to simply and accurately calculate the maturity offset using the calculations produced by Mirward et al. (15).
In addition to PHV, skeletal age and peak weight velocity are also reliable and non-invasive methods to calculate physical maturation (1, 16).
In a practical setting, paediatric sports scientists will often use a calculation of an individual’s age of PHV (maturity offset) as this provides an accurate benchmark as to how long the individual is from experiencing their PHV. For example, if a 13-year-old male’s age of PHV is calculated at 13 years and 4 months, then the exercise scientist can begin to plan for this forthcoming physical change. The prediction of how far an individual is from their age of PHV is based on the different timing and growth rates of leg length and sitting height. That being, leg length grows first, shortly followed by sitting height growth.
The closer the individual is to experiencing PHV, the more accurate the prediction. Consequently, the ideal age of prediction is 9-13 years in females, and 12-16 years in males (17). When predicting the maturity offset of the individual, note that a negative value suggests the process has not started yet, whilst a positive value implies that it has already begun. For instance, any negative figure such as -3.4 implies that the child is 3.4 years away from their predicted age of PHV.