Relative age effect and dropout causes in a multisport club setting. Is there a special reason to give up?

Abstract Aims: The aim of the present study was 1) compare the drop-out rates between athletes born in different trimesters of the competitive year from different sports and 2) identify the causes pointed by the dropped-out athletes born in different selection year trimesters to disengage from the competitive sports environment. Methods: Data from 966 athletes who left the competitive sports context were analyzed under the Relative Age Effect (RAE) theoretical framework during 3 consecutive seasons. The drop-out rate and the reason to quit the competitive environment were analyzed by a routine club questionnaire. Results: An expected reverse RAE on drop-out rates was identified, in which the early born athletes were overrepresented (p<0.001). Regarding the reasons to disengage from competitive sports environment, no reason emerged as the main cause to dropout between athletes born in different selection year trimester. Conclusion: It was concluded that despite the common assumption that personal psychological issues related to RAE in late born athletes are important factors influencing sports disengagement, the relationship between drop-out and RAE is more complex and multifactorial.