The month of your birth influences your chances of becoming a professional athlete, an Australian researcher said.

Dr. Adrian Barnett of Queensland University studied players in the Australian Football League and found a disproportionate number had birthdays in the early months of the year, while many fewer were born in the later months, especially December, according to a news release on the work.

Barnett said it could be that, since the school year starts in January in Australia, children born earlier in the year are likely to be taller than their counterparts.

“(It) could have a huge effect on your life,” Barnett said.

In the study, there were 33 percent more professional AFL players than expected with birthdays in January and 25 percent fewer in December. He said the results mirrored other international studies which found a link between being born near the start of school year and the chances of becoming a professional player in the sports of ice hockey, football, volleyball and basketball.

“Research in the UK shows those born at the start of the school year also do better academically and have more confidence,” he said. “It could also mean smaller children get disheartened and play less sport.”

Australian football is a game a bit like rugby that is rarely played in the U.S., though it was regularly featured in the early days of ESPN.

The results of the study were published in the book Analysing Seasonal Health Data.

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