Athletes Born Early in the Year

March 22nd, 2010 | Sources:

A person’s birth date may affect his or her odds of becoming a pro athlete, according to new study by Australian scientists.

Adrian Barnett, a research fellow at Queensland University of Technology examined the birthdays of Australian Football League (AFL) players and soccerobserved that a disproportionate share of them were born in the first 3 months of the year, while much fewer than expected were born in the last 3 months.

The Australian school year begins in January, Barnett noted.

“Children who are taller have an obvious advantage when playing [Australian rules football]. If you were born in January, you have almost 12 months’ growth ahead of your classmates born late in the year, so whether you were born on December 31st or January 1st could have a huge effect on your life,” Barnett told

Barnett found that 33% more AFL players had January birthdays than expected, and there were 25% fewer December birthdays than expected.

Barnett’s observations are similar to those of other scientists who found associations between birthdays early in the year and the chances of becoming a professional basketball, football, ice hockey, football or volleyball player.

“Research in the UK shows those born at the start of the school year also do better academically and have more confidence,” Barnett said. “And with physical activity being so important, it could also mean smaller children get disheartened and play less sport. If smaller children are missing out on sporting activity then this has potentially serious consequences for their health in adulthood.”

His study appears in a recently published book called Analyzing Seasonal Health Data.


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