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Pre-Puberty, Children Show Marked Differences in Sport Performance

    The General Public Now Understands That Puberty Provides a Game-Changing Advantage to Males. What About Younger Children?

    January 1, 2024

    Here’s what the recent research shows: Even pre-puberty, males have substantial testosterone-based advantages, which begin before birth. In utero, male fetuses receive an infusion of testosterone that is later associated with young boys’ somewhat greater strength and somewhat greater propensity for aggression – the androgenic effects of testosterone. For example, fitness data from over 85,000 children in Australia showed that, compared to nine-year-old females, nine-year-old males were 9.8 percent faster in sprints (running) and 16.6 percent faster in the mile run. They could jump 9.5 percent farther, could complete 33.3 percent more pushups in 30 seconds, and had a 13.8 percent stronger grip.

    Significant male advantage was also found in a study of Greek children pre-puberty. Compared with six-year-old females, six-year-old males completed 16.6 percent more shuttle runs in a given time and could jump almost ten percent farther from a standing position. Another Danish study showed six- and seven-year-old males had a higher aerobic capacity (VO2max) than girls in the same age group.

    A 2022 analysis of American swimming records showed that boys’ records in the ten- and-unders (nine and ten-year-olds) average 0.57 seconds faster per 100 yards than girls’ records. Boys’ records jump to an average of 3.01 seconds faster per 100 yards for the 12-and-under group and more than 4.5 seconds faster per 100 yards between the ages of 13 and 18. Jerry Giordano, an attorney who conducted the analysis, concluded that “about two-thirds of the eventual male-female differential in the performance of top swimmers emerges by the age of 12.”

    The pattern is even more dramatic in children competing in track. Every USA Track & Field age-group national championship record is better than the girls’ record. This is true beginning with the youngest competitive age group (eight-and-under), with the gap growing dramatically during and after puberty.

    According to Greg Brown, professor of Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, “Before puberty, boys tend to outperform girls of the same age in tests measuring muscular strength, muscular endurance, running speed, aerobic fitness, ball throwing, and kicking distance. Conversely, girls typically exhibit better performance in tests focused on flexibility. While physical fitness tests do not always accurately predict success in competitive sports, physical fitness is often a prerequisite for success in sports.”

    For more about why it’s unfair for boys and men, regardless of gender identity, to compete against girls and women, and for complete endnotes for this and other research, see Our Position.