A Rookie of the Year award is given by a number of sports leagues to the top-performing athlete in his or her first season within the league. Athletes competing for the first time in any given league are also known as "rookies".
The honor is awarded annually to the top rookie performers in:
Some rookie of the year awards exist outside North America, one example being the Elitserien Rookie of the Year in Swedish ice hockey.
The North American sports development system delays athletes' entry into the top level of professional sports until the best of them are ready to make a major impact in their first season. The typical development path varies by sport:
However, in other parts of the world, it is usual for clubs to train their own players and introduce them into the first team gradually. Occasionally, young players who show extraordinary talent are introduced to the first team during their teens, with notable examples being Wayne Rooney in association football and Ricky Rubio in basketball.
To reflect this difference Young player of the year awards with an upper age limit usually somewhere in the early 20s, are more common elsewhere, e.g. soccer's FIFPro World Young Player of the Year.
However golf's PGA European Tour has the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, and Grand Prix motorcycle racing also awards the top rookie of each class.