The changes you have made are reverting to the way competition age groups used to be calculated. Why is this?
Since September 2010 the LTA has used the ‘seasonal age group’ approach to calculate players’ ages based on their age on the last day of the competition season. This has enabled players to change between being the oldest and youngest in an age group more frequently. It was intended to help to mitigate Relative Age Effect (RAE) amongst junior players.
Since the changes were introduced, and as part of a substantial Competition review in 2017-18, the effects have been monitored and analysed. The findings found that:
- RAE appears to exist and is most pronounced in the 8 – 12 year range.
- RAE and cut-off dates appear to have the most impact on only the elite or performance players, not the majority of players competing in tennis.
- Moving cut-off dates within the calendar does not mitigate the impact of RAE, but rather shifts it onto different player cohorts.
The ‘seasonal age group’ approach is perceived by many as confusing and difficult to calculate. It is off-putting to new players who want to compete, especially in comparison to other sports and recreational activities. The current play-up rules are inflexible and the passport process that is used to enable some players to compete in the next age group is not transparent.
An unintended consequence of the current age group process has occurred at the elite level of tennis whereby juniors that win the British Junior National Championships cannot compete in the same age group internationally because they are too old according to international age group criteria.
By implementing the new system for calculating competition age groups we believe we can counteract these issues and have a system that is simple to understand and easy to calculate, offers flexibility and at the same time supports our Player Pathway.