The significance of maturation and physical fitness in the prediction of secondary school sports injuries

Michael Thomas Dealy, Fordham University


Interscholastic athletics have traditionally been available for student participation based on age and grade level criteria. These guidelines have remained in use despite the evidence about the wide range of individual differences among developing adolescents. Children develop at different rates and in different ways. Their bodies grow and increase in volume. They exhibit different levels of physical fitness, and pubertal changes take place with great variability. Adolescent development has not been considered objectively in establishing classification criteria for selection of secondary school students for sports participation. Developmental indices are related to the occurrence of injury in contact sports. This study investigates the effects of level of competition, grade, age, and the developmental indices of weight, height, pubertal hair growth, agility, strength, speed, endurance, degree of success, and participation on injuries in secondary school sports activities in the New York State educational system. The sports investigated were football, wrestling, and soccer. The data collection for this study was supervised by J. Kenneth Hafner, field representative for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. The subjects were approximately 1100 seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students, age 12 to 16, representing more than 200 schools, for the school years of 1975, 1976, and 1977. Data analyses included hiloglinear modelling to arrive at a best generating class of variables for meaningful association. Next, logit loglinear analyses were performed for each sport to develop a model for prediction of injury that would best fit the data. Developmental measures of hair growth are good predictors of injury in all three sports. Grade is an adequate predictor of injury, but only when considered in conjunction with maturity measures for football and wrestling, and in conjunction with fitness measures for soccer. This study confirms the hypothesis that categories such as grade cannot be used as a criterion for selection of adolescents for physical activity. Developmental indices such as facial, axillary, and pubic hair growth, as well as skill related developmental indices such as strength, endurance, speed, and agility are valuable and necessary predictors of injury for sports participants at the secondary school level.

Subject Area

Physical education

Recommended Citation

Dealy, Michael Thomas, "The significance of maturation and physical fitness in the prediction of secondary school sports injuries" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8821953.