At Richmond United we conduct Maturity Offset Testing to help identify the physical development phase of each player during the time of their biggest physical growth spurt. This test will be conducted during preseason. Further testing during the season depends on the age and previous test results of each player.
The Maturity Offset is a value that quantifies how far a player is away from his peak height velocity (PHV). PHV is the period of time in which an adolescent experiences his fastest upward growth in his stature – i.e. the time when he grows the fastest during his adolescent growth spurt. US Soccer uses these measurements for their Youth National Teams and the Development Academy does allow certain players who are behind in their physical development to play down an age group.
Currently we use the test results in two important areas:
1. Monitoring the individual player/Injury Prevention
During the PHV, the bones usually grow first while muscles and tendons are getting stretched and take some time to catch up. This additional stress on the body combined with our competitive environment with 4 practices plus a game on the weekend can make the player more injury prone during this time. Heel or knee pains are quite common and we need to make sure the players do get rest if necessary to prevent any bigger injuries.
In addition, the brain may take time to adjust to the new body dimensions and a temporary decline in balance and body control is common. It sometimes helps a player to deal with frustration if he understands the reason for temporary "clumsy" touches.
2. Creating a challenging environment for each player
When comparing the players in the same age group, it becomes clear that there are significant differences between the physical development of some players. For example, we have a difference of almost three years in physical development in the same age group, but yet these players compete every day in training against each other.
As a result, for certain practices we will split the practice groups up according to their Maturity Offset Results to let players compete with each other that are on the same physical development level. For example, an early developer might be asked to play with older players to work on his ability to solve problems when he can't use the advantages of early muscle development. This will prepare him for the time when the other players have caught up physically. Vice versa, a late developer might be asked to play with younger players, so that he can improve his ability to dribble past players or compete in 50/50s, something he might have a big disadvantage with in his regular age group environment and might shy away from .
We understand that the game of soccer is not just about physical development, but also about decision making, technical abilities and mental strength, all of which also differ among players of various ages throughout the season. Our application of the Maturity Offset data into our training program will never be set in stone and changes, for example which players train with which group, based on the continous evaluation of the individual players development.