Here we have provided some guidelines of how players, both male and female, develop in regards to age and stage, through sport and through to a long term athlete development, (LTAD), pathway – should they choose to head in this direction when appropriate also.


As a starting point it is important to be mindful when working to “age”.  When we look at player development and LTAD, age isn’t just defined by a date of birth but rather a range of parameters. Chronological age refers to the number of years and days elapsed since birth, whereas developmental age refers to the degree of physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional maturity. Children of the same chronological age can differ in their level of biological maturation and physical development, therefore developmental parameters need to be considered at each age, phase, and stage for each player as they participate and progress in sport.  Especially when a parent, player, or coach is considering elements involving; movement, training and conditioning, level of competition, amount of participation and the all important rest and recovery for their child.



Growth, Development and Peak Height Velocity

While growth and development is a natural process, the intensity of this growth and development that can take place through the maturation process can vary greatly from child to child. As an example, two youth players of the same chronological age may have two very different biological growth patterns and phases. These differences need to be considered and catered for appropriately for children and youth in sport, but regularly are not. Identifying early and late maturers can be done by measurements which track the players growth. In order to identify whether your child is an early maturer, average maturer or a late maturer, the onset of their growth spurt and their peak height velocity (PHV) are very significant milestones to identify.


PHV is the fastest rate of growth during the adolescent growth spurt. The onset of growth spurt for girls typically occurs around the age of 10 and peaks around the age of 12 whereas boys typically undergo the onset of their growth spurt at the age of 12, with this peaking at the age of 14. However PHV in boys is often more intense than in girls. The growth spurt for both boys and girls may occur two or more years earlier or later than average. Early maturing boys may have as much as a four year physiological advantage over their late-maturing peers. Eventually, the late maturers will catch up when they experience their growth spurt. Always remember each child is individual and will move through these phases at their own rate of development.



Using Growth Information

As parents, keeping a regular record of your child’s growth measurements to determine PHV is a simple way to track growth. Another tool to help parents predict when their child may hit their PHV can be undertaken by using the recorded height, weight and sitting height of their child and entering this information into this online calculator – HERE.


Monitoring your child’s growth can help you determine where vulnerable periods of growth are taking place and enable you to communicate with your child and their coaches to decide how to adjust their; sporting load, sports training sessions, competition, and recovery programs according to the velocity of growth.



Guide for long term sports and football participation

Keeping in mind the above information in regards to your child’s PHV and certain aspects of “adolescent awkwardness” they may experience during this time considerations around the amount of football played throughout different ages need to be considered. Refer to our player development guidelines table as a reference tool for you and your child in determining their overall load and total sports hours. This includes reference to the NZF framework and considers the continuation of other sports. Click on the growth curve icon to see the growth curve overlay on this table as a reference, keeping in mind this is for the “average” growth rate which may be 2 or more years further back or forward depending on whether your child is an early or late maturer.



Other considerations

Whilst the above information focuses on the “age” of your child and how to identify and utilise their PHV and the recommended hours of their training each week consideration around how to best manage your child’s multi-faceted sports participation, with additional diligence needed around;


Click on the above links to be directed to information on these topics.


Additionally, if you are after further information in relation to the long term development of players focusing on their physical aspect specifically click here.