Play. Inspire. Unite.
The OPDL Spotlight Series, presented by Toronto FC, highlights stories, teams and initiatives from around the league.
This week features a look at bio-banding and how it is used in OPDL to ensure athletes are placed correctly in their development stage.
The relative age effect in soccer is very prevalent in youth soccer. This is frequently caused by the recruitment of players who benefit from early maturing. This can be seen with players on a roster that are born within first quarter of a year.
The majority of these players are more physically developed players and can look like the most talented because they are physically dominating games and having the largest impact on the game.
Bio-banding allows players to be grouped based on their maturity and biological maturity, and not upon their chronological age. This has two advantages. First, it allows an opportunity for late maturing players to stop being suppressed by the physicality of early matures and to be able to play in a fair environment where they can thrive and develop their soccer ability.
The second benefit is for early maturing players.
If early maturing players become dependent on their physical ability, they may neglect their development in other areas that are much more important, such as technical, tactical and psychological.
Players who dominate games and training within their chronological age group may be the ones who are in biggest danger of not progressing long-term.
With bio-banding, early maturing players are taken out of an environment where they physically dominate and are positioned against players of similar maturity and physicality.
By doing this, early maturing players then need to utilize and develop other attributes to be successful.
In the OPDL a player can play at their own chronological age or play up or down based on their biological age.
An OPDL Club Technical Director can make a request to Ontario Soccer’s High Performance Department for a player to register at a younger or older age within the OPDL.
The request must follow a process where an assessment of the player is submitted to Ontario Soccer’s High Performance department.
Video of the player may be requested in addition to the assessment or an Ontario Soccer Regional High Performance Manager may evaluate that player within their own club environment.
After the evaluation is completed, an agreement will be signed off between Ontario Soccer’s Manager of High Performance, the OPDL Club Technical Director and parent of the player.
During the course of the season the player will continue to be monitored by Ontario Soccer’s Regional High Performance Mangers and the OPDL Club Technical Director.
Bio-Banding is an additional option for OPDL clubs and competition. It is not and will not ever be a replacement for the current chronological age system, which can still benefits some smaller, less mature players, who consistently have an environment that is challenging across the four corners of development (Technical/Tactical, Physical, Psychological and Social /Emotional).