Biobanding in football with AFC Bournemouth Academy

Biobanding in football with AFC Bournemouth Academy


What we have here is a biobanded competition, so boys of different ages from the ages of 11 through 13 but all of a similar biological
maturity status. So what we’re doing is grouping the players on a basis of physical maturity rather than their age. The benefits are that it presents new
challenges and learning opportunities for the children. Those early developing
boys who normally physically dominate the game are having to compete against
physically matched yet older and smarter boys, so it’s a bigger challenge
for them. They can’t rely on the physicality, they have to develop the
technical and tactical elements of the game which they may be overlooking in
the age group competition. In contrast for your late developing boys, physicality
isn’t a problem anymore. They have an opportunity to command the game, take on positions of leadership within the team. We’re playing a biobanding match against Reading and Southampton. It’s good fun as it’s challenging playing against people who are a different age to you. We had a research study that was published last year on the feedback we got from the players alongside University of Bath. The early maturing players have found it a more physical challenge, which is what we expect and what we want for them. The late maturing players are telling us that they are allowed to work more on their technical and tactical ability and not have to worry about the early maturing players dominating the game. So it’s been really good in that sense. We’ve found a lot of psychological advantages as well. The under 11s are still strong, and they still have really good feet and they’re really quick. I don’t know who is the under 12s and who is the under 11s. What we do is we
collect all the training and injury data from here at the Academy as well as
their growth and maturation data. We’re then using that growth data to
identify periods of risk, so when players go through their puberty and
their growth spurt they’re more at risk because their bodies are changing. This
means that they’re at increased injury risk, so we’re then modifying our training
here at the academy and how we deal with these players and identify
those risks, to hopefully allow them to be on the pitch more often and get
more training and match minutes.

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