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Late Bloomers | Male Puberty

Research presented will paint a clear picture of what exactly classifies a late bloomer, the physiological implications of maturity in sport, the psychosocial effects of late bloomers and the implications for youth development leaders and coaches.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

What Does Male Puberty Look Like

Puberty & Developmental Age

Warning this page describes changes that occur during puberty and maturation, some of the topics discussed may be sensitive to some readers

Tanner Stages

Tanner Stages
Changes
1
Brain cues body for changes. Pituitary Gland starts to release hormones to undergo pubertal changes. No physical changes are present.
2
Testicles and scrotum begin to grow. Early stages of pubic hair growth begins.
3
Genitals continue to grow. Voice starts to change "crack." Muscle growth (hypertrophy) begins. Height increases 2-3 inches per year.
4
Genitals continue to grow. Armpit hair growth begins. Voice change becomes permanent. Acne may appear.
5
Genitals reach adult size. Pubic hair has filled in. Facial hair starts to grow. Growth in height slows.

Puberty is simply defined as the changes that occur physically that signify the onset of reproductive maturation (Hauser-Cram, Nugent, Theis, & Travers, 2014). Normal puberty in boys is forecasted by an increase in testicular size, which occurs between 9.5-13.5 years with an average mean value of 12 years of age (Pinyerd & Zipf, 2005). The starting point and stopping point of the primary and secondary sexual characteristics is quite wide spread. As noted above, the start of testicular enlargement can start between 9.5-13.5 years, but may not reach full maturity till 13.5-17 years. Penis growth may start between 10.5-14.5 years of age and may reach full maturity between the ages of 12.5-16.5 years of age (Tanner, 1990). The development of the testicles, penis and pubic hair are broken into five stages. It is important to note that given the data described above, between the ages of 13 and 14, “normal boys may be found in any stage of sexual development” (Tanner, 1986, p.17).

 

Along with the increase of primary and secondary sexual characteristic development, adolescents also reach Peak Height Velocity (PHV), or the highest rate of growth during the adolescents growth spurt. This height spurt occurs somewhere between Tanner Stage 3 and 5, with majority of kids reaching PHV in Tanner Stage 4 (Marshall & Tanner, 1970). Moreover, it was found that one-fifth of boys had not reached PHV even after their genitalia had reached an adult stage (Marshall & Tanner, 1970). Therefore kids of the same age could appear to be younger or older than they actually are, recent research has examined classifying youth not by their chronological age, but instead by their biological or developmental age.

Puberty

"Therefore kids of the same age could appear to be younger or older than they actually are, recent research has examined classifying youth not by their chronological age, but instead by their biological or developmental age."
"Boys and girls who mature early are taller and heavier than their peers and demonstrate greater lean body mass and heart size. They tend to perform better on motor tasks and are likely to be more successful in short competition (at least at that age). Late maturers on the other hand may be inferior in all aspects until they ‘catch up’ in later adolescence.”

(Rowland, 2005, p. 28).

Based on the wide range of developmental norms, each child is on a different curve of biological growth. Some may be early maturers, others are late maturers and many other fill the spectrum in between (Rowland, 2005). Rowland also suggests that, “Boys and girls who mature early are taller and heavier than their peers and demonstrate greater lean body mass and heart size. They tend to perform better on motor tasks and are likely to be more successful in short competition (at least at that age). Late maturers on the other hand may be inferior in all aspects until they ‘catch up’ in later adolescence.” (Rowland, 2005, p. 28).

Due to the wide variability at each chronological age (actual age based on date of birth), recent research has leaned towards classifying adolescents based on their development age as opposed to chronological age. Developmental age is classified as, “the degree of physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional maturity. Physical developmental age can be determined by skeletal maturity or bone age after which mental, cognitive and emotional maturity is incorporated” (Balyi & Way, 2001).

Developmental Age

References

Balyi, I., & Way, R. (2001). The role of monitoring growth in long-term athlete development. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved 4/15/16, Retrieved from http://canadiansportforlife.ca/sites/default/files/resources/MonitoringGrowth%281%

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Hauser-Cram, P., Nugent, J. K., Theis, K. M., & Travers, J. F. (2014). The development of children and adolescents Wiley.

Marshall, W. A., & Tanner, J. M. (1970). Variations in the pattern of pubertal changes in boys. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 45(239), 13-23.

Pinyerd, B., & Zipf, W. B. (2005). Puberty—Timing is everything! Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 20(2), 75-82.

Rowland, T. W. (2005). Children's exercise physiology Human Kinetics Champaign, IL.

Tanner, J. (1990). Foetus into man: Physical growth from conception to maturity Harvard University Press.

Tanner, J. (1986). 1 normal growth and techniques of growth assessment. Clinics in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 15(3), 411-451.

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