Prenatal androgenization (2D:4D) predictions of tennis match-play success in junior players: A search for physiological explanations

Evaldo Ribeiro*, Nick Neave, Birgit Keller Marsili, Eduardo Carlos Gonçalves Figueiredo, Anderson Joel Martino-Andrade, Rosana Nogueira de Moraes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: This study aims to investigate the possible association between digit ratio (2D:4D) and match-play success (MPS) in junior tennis players. In addition, we consider the possible explanatory pathways of these associations in relation to psychological, strength, power, and hormonal parameters. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study, with a sample comprised of 64 male junior tennis players (11–18 years old). Digit ratio was calculated from direct finger measurements. In addition, we measured the ratio of wins by number of matches played in 5 years of official competition (MPS), handgrip strength (HGS), standing long jump (SLJ), training (in weekly hours), and expertise (number of years in official competition). Salivary testosterone and cortisol levels were measured before and after physical “challenge” tests. Results: The 2D:4D correlated negatively with HGS and SLJ. MPS was also negatively associated with 2D:4D, but was positively correlated to HGS, expertise, training, and self-confidence (SC). Multiple linear regression showed 2D:4D and expertise were associated with MPS (43%–54%). None of the physical, or hormonal variables tested explained the links between 2D:4D and MPS. Conclusion: Therefore, the specific fitness components influenced by prenatal androgenization that moderate sports success remain unknown. Future studies should explore the interaction of 2D:4D, with tennis exercises as a challenge to induce hormonal change, the effect of pubertal stage, and the influence of aerobic endurance in determining MPS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23979
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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