The association between chronological age and maturity status on lower body clinical measurements and asymmetries in elite youth tennis players

López-Valenciano, Alejandro, Ayala, Francisco, De Ste Croix, Mark B ORCID: 0000-0001-9911-4355, Barbado, D., Moreno-Perez, Victor, Sanz-Rivas, David and Fernandez-Fernandez, Jaime (2022) The association between chronological age and maturity status on lower body clinical measurements and asymmetries in elite youth tennis players. Sports Health. doi:10.1177/19417381221083319 (In Press)

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Abstract

Background: Tennis is one of the most popular sports among youth. At elite levels, a notable increase in injury incidence and a temporary decline in performance may occur when children progress through puberty. However, limited research has explored maturity-associated variations in clinical measurements suggested as predictors of injury and tennis performance in elite youth players. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to analyse the association between chronological age and maturity status on several measures of neuromuscular capability and physical performance as well as bilateral asymmetries in elite youth tennis players. Hypothesis: Youth tennis players around-peak height velocity (PHV) will show higher growth-related impairments or deficits in measures of neuromuscular capability and physical performance than their less (pre-PHV) and more (post-PHV) mature counterparts irrespective of sex. Level of evidence: Level IV. Methods: A total of 68 male (age: 13.7 ± 1.1 y; stature: 162.4 ± 9.4 cm; body mass: 51.4 ± 10.3 kg) and 60 female (age: 13.6 ± 1.1 y; stature: 162.8 ± 7.2 cm; body mass: 52.7 ± 7.5 kg) elite youth tennis players from two different age groups (under 13 [U13] and under 15 [U15]) and maturity status [pre, around and post-PHV], were tested during national training camps. Tests included the Y-Balance test, isometric hip abduction and adduction strength, hip ROMs and countermovement jump (CMJ) height. Bayesian analysis were used to establish any significant between-group differences. Results: Only dynamic balance (in males) (Bayesian factor [BF10] = 88.2) and jump height (in both males and females) (BF10 > 100) were significatively associated with chronological age, whereby U15 group showed lower Y-Balance reach distances (-6%; standardized effect size [δ] = -0.62) but higher CMJ height scores (+18%; δ = 0.73) than the U13 group. While males jump higher (+11%, δ = 0.62) and were stronger in isometric hip adduction strength (+14%, δ = 0.92) than females, the latter had greater hip internal ROM values (+15%, δ = 0.75). Furthermore, relevant maturity-associate effects (BF10 = 34.6) were solely observed for the CMJ test in males, with the most mature players demonstrating higher jump height scores (+12%, δ = 0.93). Finally, a significant percentage (>25%) of tennis players, independent of sex, demonstrated bilateral asymmetries in hip ROMs, hip strength and jump height values. Conclusions: The findings of this study show that in U13 and U15 male and female tennis players there were neither positive nor negative maturity-associated variations in the clinical measurements analysed (with the exception of jump height in males). The high proportion of tennis players showing bilateral asymmetries in dynamic balance, hip ROM and strength and jump performance, highlight the need of future studies to analyse these factors in relation to unilateral tennis-specific adaptations in the musculoskeletal and sensorimotor systems. Clinical relevance: These results may help to better understand how different clinical measurements are associated with the process of growth and maturation in elite youth tennis players and may aid in the design of specific training interventions during these stages of development.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Growth; Injury; Racquet sports; Y Balance Test; Youth
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports > GV861 Ball games: Baseball, football, golf, etc.
Q Science > QP Physiology > QP301.H75 Physiology. Sport
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ125 Physiology of children and adolescents
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Sport and Exercise > Applied Sport & Exercise Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2022 10:55
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2022 12:45
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/10529

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