Sport Specialisation


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This presentation investigates how the timing of sport specialisation may influence the success of an athletes sporting career. From the discussed research, recommendations are then made to assist sport coaches in formulating age appropriate training programs for their athletes.

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Sport Specialisation

  1. 1. Becoming An Elite Athlete Sport Specialisation
  2. 2. Overview What is sport specialisation?How does the timing of sport specialisation influence elite sport performance? What does this mean for sport coaches?
  3. 3. What Is Sports Specialisation?“year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sport or non-sport activities” (Wiersma, 2000, p.13).
  4. 4. What Is Sports Specialisation? Late Specialisation/ Early Early Specialisation Diversification Human Services, n.d.) years)(U.S. Department of Health & Middle Adolescence (14-18Younger Years Older Years
  5. 5. (Lin, 2006)
  6. 6. Early Specialisation: The Good It has been suggested that early specialisation leads to: •Better acquisition of motor skills (Wiersma, 2000) •Increased proficiency of motor skills (Wiersma, 2000)It is also assumed that these gains made in skill acquisition can not be achieved by athletes who specialise at a later age
  7. 7. Early Specialisation: The BadEarly specialisation has been shown to: •Reduce the longevity of the athletes career. -Barynina&Vaitsekhovskii (as cited in Baker, 2003) found that early specialising athletes spent less time on the national team and ended their sporting careers earlier •Limit the diversity of social interactions, impairing the athlete’s development of self-concept (Rowland as cited in Wiersma, 2000) •Cause athlete burnout (Wiersma, 2000)
  8. 8. Early Specialisation: The ExceptionHarre (as cited in Wiersma, 2000) found that early specialising athletes reached their peak performance at the age of 16. (Wainwright, 2007)
  9. 9. Future DirectionsMore research needs to be done in order to fully understand how early specialisation or diversification influences an athletes sporting career. The long-term effects of early specialisation on attitudes towards sport and sport participationThe difference in timing of sports specialisation and success in specific sports
  10. 10. Implications For Sport Coaches Coaches of school based programs:•Very little change required as many sports or activities are already incorporated into the curriculum Coaches of extra-curricular sports programs:•Suggesting that athletes participate in other sport programs•Incorporating skills from other sports into training programs•Limiting the number of sessions available for participants to complete each week
  11. 11. ReferencesBaker, J. (2003). Early Specialization in Youth Sport: a Requirement for Adult Expertise? High AbilityStudies, 14 (1), 85-94.Lin, M. (Photographer). (2006). Ian Thorpe. Retrieved from Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). What is Adolescence? Retrieved 04 03, 2013, fromOffice of Population Affairs: Adolescent Family Life Self-Directed Modules:, C. (Photographer). (2007). Flying. Retrieved from, L. (2000). Risks and Benefits of Youth Sport Specialisation: Perspectives andRecommendations. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 13-22.Wood, R. (2013, 02 27). Top End Sports. Retrieved 04 04, 2013, from Swimming Profiles: Ian Thorpe: