This text is published as Appendix 2 in the Pre-Course Information of the FA Youth Award – Module 1 course.


Growth is an increase in the size of the body as a whole or the size attained by specific parts of the body. Changes in size are outcomes of three underlying cellular processes:

  1. an increase in cell number, or hyperplasia
  2. an increase in cell size, or hypertrophy
  3. an increase in inter-cellular substances, or accretion


Maturation is more difficult to define than growth. It is often described as the process of becoming mature, or progress toward the mature state. Maturity, however, varies with the biological system considered.

  • Sexual maturity is fully functional reproductive capability
  • Skeletal maturity is a fully ossified adult skeleton

Maturation refers to the tempo and timing of progress toward the mature biological state.

This is the fundamental distinction between “growth” and “maturation”.

  • Growth focuses on size.
  • Maturation focuses on progress in, or rate of, attaining size.


The terms growth and maturation are often used in conjunction with the term development.

Development denotes a broader concept often used in two distinct contexts:

  1. The first context is biological
  2. The second context is behavioural and relates to the development of competence in a variety of interrelated domains

Physical Activity and Performance

The development and refinement of skilful performance defines which movement behaviours are important to an individual’s growth and functional development. During the first 5 or 6 years of life, the development of basic movement patterns depends largely upon the individual’s rate of neuromuscular maturation. Once the basic movement patterns are established, experience, learning, and practice are significant factors affecting motor competence in addition to the child’s growth and maturity.


It should be reasonably clear, that no one set of isolated phenomena describes a child’s growth, maturation, development, and performance.

Growth, maturation, and development interact to mould the child’s self-concept, the manner in which the child evaluates and perceives themselves.