Peak height velocity

Peak height velocity (PHV) is the period where maximum rate of growth occurs and this is an indication of maturity (Lloyd and Oliver, 2014). This PHV can be used to estimate the start of adolescence or puberty by the growth spurt that occurs and when no further growth occurs this is an estimate of the start of adulthood (Lloyd and Oliver, 2014).

Prepuberty, boys and girls will develop and mature at similar rates. Even physical capacities like speed, coordination, power etc. will develop at similar rates throughout childhood (Lloyd and Oliver, 2012). The adolescent growth spurts generally start later in boys and are more intense, which is why boys are generally taller than girls. During this time boys will also make greater gains in nearly all the physical capacities with the exception of flexibility (Lloyd and Oliver, 2012).

In and around PHV is a very important period for training as this is the time sex hormone production surges and thus increases in body mass and protein synthesis occur. Because of the increase in certain growth hormones, players respond well to hypertrophy training (muscle building training) around the onset of PHV. The period of enhanced maturation and growth around PHV leads to windows of enhanced opportunity to develop certain physical characteristics such as speed, stamina, and strength. It is worth mentioning that these windows of opportunity are based on research but are theoretical in nature. If a player does not develop a specific capacity at a certain time it does not mean they have missed their opportunity and will not develop to their full potential. These windows of opportunity can serve as a guide but are not fixed.

The most accurate ways to measure how far a player is from PHV are expensive, invasive, and a require skilled trained professional. This is not ideal for a coach with limited resources and so an estimation calculation called the “maturity offset” can be used. This is a calculation that uses the following information to estimate how far a player is in years from PHV and this can be used by the coach to guide training:

  • Gender
  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Measurement
  • Standing Height (cm)
  • Sitting Height (cm)
  • Weight (kg)

The actual calculation is quite long but tools available online have been created where the coach can just add the above values and they will get the estimate of years from PHV. Enter “maturity offset spreadsheet” into any internet search engine to download a readymade spreadsheet for this calculation.