One of the eight key factors underlying Long-Term Development in sport and physical activity for organizations is: Appropriate Specialization. This factor recommends that, except in early specialization sports, athletes should not over-specialize until their early teens. Before then, they should participate in a wide range of sports and activities to build a high level of physical literacy and well-rounded sport skills. And yet, it seems the sport system—and those working with pre-teen participants—are creating increased opportunities for early specialization.
Join Sport for Life, alongside researcher Alyssa Cox and Richard Sylvester to discuss and explore this reality, and possible ways forward.
Alyssa Cox will present a summary of her recent research findings on “Sample or Specialize? Exploring Youth Sport Coaches’ Perspectives and Practices Regarding Sport Specialization and Sport Sampling”.
Richard Sylvester will speak about reframing the discussion on multi-sport in favour of its bigger sibling sport sampling or diversification. Sampling involves a focus on playing multiple sports and the concept of deliberate play. A focus on sampling through playing different sports and engaging in deliberate play will allow athletes to build:
adaptations of emotional, social and mental skills, not just physical skills and capacities
more consistent links with children’s motivation to participate (interesting and important things),
essential building blocks for self-regulated investment in elite sport during adolescence and adulthood, and
love and appreciation for sport and physical activity.
Richard will share practical ideas on how to implement these concepts.