Objective: To validate a non-invasive measure of biological maturity (percentage of predicted mature height at a given age) with an established indicator of maturity [skeletal age (SA)] in youth American football players.
Setting: Two communities in central Michigan.
Participants: 143 youth football players 9.27 to 14.24 years.
Methods: Height and weight were measured, and hand-wrist radiographs were taken. SA assessed with the Fels method was the criterion measure of maturity status. Chronological age (CA), height, and weight of the player and midparent height were used to predict mature height; current height of the player was expressed as a percentage of his predicted mature height as a noninvasive estimate of biological maturity status.
Main outcome measure: Boys' maturation was classified as late, on time, or early maturing on the basis of the difference between SA and CA and of present height expressed as a percentage of predicted mature height. Kappa coefficients and Spearman rank-order correlations were calculated. Characteristics of players concordant and discordant for maturity classification with SA and percentage of predicted mature height were compared with MANCOVA.
Results: Concordance between methods of maturity classification was 62%. The Kappa coefficient, 0.46 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.59) and Spearman rank-order correlation, rs = 0.52 (P < 0.001) were moderate. Players discordant for maturity status varied in midparent height and percentage of predicted mature height, but not in predicted mature height.
Conclusion: Percentage of predicted mature height is a reasonably valid estimate of biological maturity status in this sample of youth football players.