20 min

Making the cut: Adam Baxter-Jones on teen athletes and growth Researchers Under the Scope

    • Medicine

As a young man finishing his biology degree, Adam Baxter-Jones was decidedly more interested in being a punk than a professor.
"I was far more interested in things like music and fashion than I ever was in academia," he said. 
But Baxter-Jones needed a job, and eventually found one testing the lung function of hospital patients. Then, he found himself measuring aerobic fitness for up-and-coming teenage swimmers, gymnasts, soccer players and tennis players.
 
As he earned his PhD in medical sciences, he observed growth variations in teen athletes that led to gaps of up to five years between a child's chronological and maturational age. 
"In professional sports like hockey and soccer, most players are born between January and May," he said, noting coaches often choose the tallest, most mature children for elite teams.
But fast-growing teens often lose that advantage as the rest of their cohort catches up, said Baxter-Jones.
In this episode, he explains his formula for predicting a child's adult height, why coaches and parents should think twice before writing off late-bloomers, and why elite sport training for teens leads to "bone in the bank" -- especially for gymnasts.
“If you get strong bones during your growing years, those strong bones stay with you as long as you keep active throughout your life," said Baxter-Jones. 

As a young man finishing his biology degree, Adam Baxter-Jones was decidedly more interested in being a punk than a professor.
"I was far more interested in things like music and fashion than I ever was in academia," he said. 
But Baxter-Jones needed a job, and eventually found one testing the lung function of hospital patients. Then, he found himself measuring aerobic fitness for up-and-coming teenage swimmers, gymnasts, soccer players and tennis players.
 
As he earned his PhD in medical sciences, he observed growth variations in teen athletes that led to gaps of up to five years between a child's chronological and maturational age. 
"In professional sports like hockey and soccer, most players are born between January and May," he said, noting coaches often choose the tallest, most mature children for elite teams.
But fast-growing teens often lose that advantage as the rest of their cohort catches up, said Baxter-Jones.
In this episode, he explains his formula for predicting a child's adult height, why coaches and parents should think twice before writing off late-bloomers, and why elite sport training for teens leads to "bone in the bank" -- especially for gymnasts.
“If you get strong bones during your growing years, those strong bones stay with you as long as you keep active throughout your life," said Baxter-Jones. 

20 min