• Key Factors to Consider in Sport Specialization for Youth: A Review of the Literature

      Craig, Corey; The College at Brockport (2018-12-12)
      Youth sport provides a valuable environment in which children can develop their motor and psychosocial skills, learn how to be “coached”, and become part of a team (Goodway & Robinson, 2015). This topic is important because decisions to specialize too young can impact the lives of young athletes in terms of their physiological and psychological health. The purpose of this synthesis was to explore the factors that go into the decision to specialize in one sport when children are young. Ten articles were reviewed and synthesized to answer five research questions. Results indicate that so-called “specializers” may be at a greater risk for physical, psychological, and developmental issues including burnout, overuse injuries, and social isolation. Specialization also may limit long-term motor skill development and inhibit identity and psychological development. Finally, sport dropout is also a major concern with early specialization. Millions of youth in the United States participate in organized sports, yet given their popularity, additional concerns exist relating to high injury rates, lack of coach training, high attrition rates, and an overemphasis on early specialization. Despite low odds that early specialization may lead to athletic scholarships or a professional career, many parents, coaches, teammates, and peers continue to pressure youth to specialize (Russell & Symonds, 2015). By examining research articles it was evident that specialization can have a huge impact on youth athletes when it comes to the development of their physical, social, and motor skills necessary to achieve success on a daily basis. Due to the overall complexity of this topic, future directions for research have also been provided to fill in the gaps.