Professor James M. Tanner and the sport sciences

Ann Hum Biol. 2012 Sep;39(5):372-81. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2012.671850. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Background: Although Tanner was not directly involved in physical education or the sport sciences, several of his papers addressed issues related to research in the area.

Aim: To consider the implications of selected papers and research projects for the sport sciences. PAPERS AND IMPLICATIONS: Several early papers addressed ratio standards, somatotype and total cholesterol, and anthropometric and somatotype changes associated weight training and cessation of training in young adult men. The papers have, respectively, implications for current studies of allometric scaling, physique and risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic complications, and responses to training. The survey of athletes at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games not only added to the literature but to some extent also set the stage for subsequent surveys of Olympic athletes in 1968, 1972 and 1976. Although not directly involved in the mixed-longitudinal study of Training of Youth Athletes (TOYA) in several sports, it was conducted in his department. Results from TOYA indicated no influence of systematic training for sport on growth in height, young adult height and sexual maturation. Growth at Adolescence was also a fixture in many graduate programs.

Conclusion: Though not a sport scientist, Tanner contributed directly and indirectly to the field.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Growth and Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Resistance Training
  • Somatotypes / physiology
  • Sports Medicine*