Southampton hosted the world’s first bio-banded tournament at the Staplewood Campus last weekend.
Saints were joined by fellow Category 1 academies Stoke City, Reading and Norwich City for the tournament, which saw players competing in teams based on their maturational status and biological age, rather than chronological age.
The tournament, the first of its kind, was a huge success and served to highlight the progressive application of sports science in the development of young players at Southampton Football Club.
‘Bio-banding’ allows coaches to work out a child’s biological age and is based around a calculation that predicts a child’s adult height (%PAH).
By matching players through this process, individual players are assessed against, and play against, those of a similar biological age.
Players within the 85-90% of PAH competed against each other at the Staplewood Campus this weekend, with youngsters aged 11-14 years of age matched by maturational status.
Saints will also use this process in the youth development phase of the academy throughout the campaign, with players training in bio-banded age groups to allow each player to be given the developmental benefits of being an early or late maturer within the group.
Alek Gross, Head of Sports Science at Saints, said after the event: “We were extremely pleased with how the tournament went. The initial feedback from coaches and players from all teams has been excellent.
“On the whole, the tournament allowed players to compete against those of a similar maturational states and gave coaches an objective way of measuring a player’s current status.
“Whilst there are areas for improvement, to have started something that would not have been entertained as recently as a few years ago, is a credit to the support within the club and the forward-thinking nature of player development.”
Gross continued: “In addition to the tournament itself, we took the opportunity to complete some data collection to use for research purposes moving forward.
“We hope this sort of tournament can help refine our methods of player recruitment and development moving forward.”