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Developmental contexts and sporting success: birth date and birthplace effects in national hockey league draftees 2000–2005


Objectives: To examine relative age and birth place effects in hockey players drafted to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) between 2000 and 2005 and determine whether these factors influenced when players were chosen in the draft.

Methods: 1013 North American draftees were evaluated from the official NHL website, which provided birthplace, date of birth and selection order in the draft. Population size was collected from Canadian and American census information. Athletes were divided into four quartiles on the basis of selection date to define age cohorts in hockey. Data between the Canadian and American players were also compared to see if the optimal city sizes differed between the two nations.

Results: Relative age and birthplace effects were found, although the optimal city size found was dissimilar to that found in previous studies. Further, there were inconsistencies between the Canadian and American data.

Conclusion: Contextual factors such as relative age and size of birthplace have a significant effect on likelihood of being selected in the NHL draft.

  • NHL, National Hockey League
  • RAE, relative age effect
  • elite athletes
  • birth date
  • birthplace
  • development
  • success

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