The question of when an athlete reaches his or her peak is always a hot topic. Is LeBron James playing his best ball ever, or will he reach the apex of his career in a few more years? What about Drew Brees? In the case of Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (or any of the other stars currently playing in the NHL Playoffs), research by an economist (seriously) claims to have found the answer.
Information out of the University of British Columbia published in the Journal of Quantitative Analytics claims to have identified when an NHL player reaches his peak. The research found that forwards perform best between ages 27 and 28, while defensemen maximize their skills between 28 and 29. It also found that forwards perform close to their peak between the ages of 24 and 32, while defensemen near the top of their game between the ages of 24 and 34. The authors analyzed data from 1997 to 2012, looking at 2,023 players with the aid of statistical models to get a feel for the players’ career arcs.
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“While confirming conventional wisdom that players peak in their late 20s, the study proves it is wishful thinking for managers to expect a player in his mid-20s to continue improving significantly,” study author and Sauder School of Business professor James Brander said in a release. “The vast majority of players are at 90 percent of their best by age 24, although there are a few late bloomers.”