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the right way ethics for youth by lillian s freehof illustrated
the oneg shabbat publication for synogogue youth groups yeshiva university
yoshko the dumbbell and other stories jewish youth book by gershon kranzler
the mystery of the missing pushke by eliezer gevirtz for jewish youth
1921 israels faith a series of lessons for the jewish youth by nathan solomon
moledet 5713 jewish national fund youth and education department
and then there were four by miriam l elias jewish orthodox youth book fiction
the whispering wind by sukey gross jewish orthodox youth book fiction
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handcrafted marble israel state of judea hilltop youth shofar torah
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temple youth group program handbook by leonard a schoolman
tikwatenu our hope sociological study of two youth centers keren yaldenu
united synagogue youth tenth anniversary yearbook metropolitan new york region
the poet and the thief by s j revich jewish orthodox youth novel
bittersweet beginnings by heda fleischman jewish youth novel orthodox
operation firestorm to the rescue part 2 jewish novel for youth orthodox
obstacle illusions by elana aron orthodox jewish youth novel
at batt by gershon kranzler jewish orthodox youth stories
the by times volume 13 flying high by leah klein jewish youth book
happy is the heart a year in the life of a jewish girl for jewish youth
the innkeepers daughter barbara cohen jewish youth
devarim tales of tzaddikim a wonderful collection of stories artscroll youth
a childrens treasury of chassidic tales artscroll youth series
judaism for today jewish thoughts for contemporary jewish youth by a cronbach
munbaz ii and other mitzvah heroes by danny siegel book for jewish youth
at batt by gershon kranzler jewish orthodox youth stories
hebrew sipurim stories of gedole yisrael bedarcam nelech jewish youth stories
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hebrew shabbat for jewish youth by asaf
1948 avremele meshumad rare hebrew youth book baltimore
legends of joseph his brother retold for jewish youth
legends of joshua retold for jewish youth illustrated childrens
september 1969 jewish youth monthly tons of great articles
the saga of jerusalem youth leaders companion by michael avi yonah
the turning point our quest for hope a resource book for temple youth groups
hebrew songs for youth by
legends of moses the law giver retold for jewish youth illustrated childrens
bittersweet beginnings by heda fleischman jewish youth novel orthodox
legends of elijah retold for jewish youth illustrated childrens
hebrew jewish youth book eliyahu hanavi vetalmido elisha
yiddish yugnt un andere dertseylungen by max makofsky youth and other stories
shabbat by youth commission united synagogue of america 1970
25 years of youth aliyah hadassah the womens zionist org in america
legends of daniel retold for jewish youth illustrated childrens
legends of joseph his brothers retold for jewish youth
legends of abraham the patriarch by s simhoni retold for jewish youth
legends of moses the law giver retold for jewish youth illustrated childrens
what the liberty bell proclaimed by leon spitz for jewish youth
legends of samson by s simhoni retold for jewish youth
the golden shoes and other stories by gershon kranzler for orthodox youth
the story of the pnei yehoshua jewish biography for youth artscroll
one tiny spark jewish orthodox youth book cis by eva vogiel
happy is the heart a year in the life of a jewish girl for jewish youth
a time of angels by karen hesse jewish novel for youth
hebrew youth edi book all for the boss biography of rabbi yaakov yosef hermann
the land and people of israel by ra rabinowicz for youth
service for the high holy days adapted for youth by hyman chanover
the very best me by c d urbach orthodox jewish youth book
hebrew shmuel hanavi his life a biography for jewish youth
legends of ruth retold for jewish youth
from berlin to jerusalem memories of my youth by gershom scholem
lower higher youre a liar by miriam chaikin classic jewish youth book
independence avenue by eileen sherman jewish youth
ncsy songster by national conference of synagogue youth jewish songs
the secret files of lisa weiss by tehila peterseil orthodox youth book
the rabbi and the priest by yb arrarat jewish novel for youth orthodox
hebrew book of knowledge for youth
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a gift for mama by esther hautzig jewish illustrated youth childrens book
habibis adventures in the land of israel book for jewish youth illustrated
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songs nfty sings by national federation of temple youth hebrew english jewish
prayer reaching out to god jewish youth monthly
veshinantom ncsy weekly program service national conference of synagogue youth
look to the hills by hazel krantz jewish youth book
artscroll youth haggadah illustrated kids jewish book
the jewish dance an anthology of articles american zionist youth council
the strange adventures of danny noor by shelomo ben israel for jewish youth
the rabbis girls by johanna hurwitz great jewish book for youth
bereshit tales of tzaddikim a wonderful collection of stories artscroll youth
from berlin to jerusalem memories of my youth by gershom scholem
1947 jerusalem rare hebrew book for youth bene hayoreh by eliezer smoli
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set of five pieces oneida silverplate south seas baby youth flatware
antique 1890s french youth dreams canivet lace holy card visit my store
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rick cain 1992 fountain of youth manatee limited edition sculpture 949 2000
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cloud country book one wings of youth hardcover by jimmie mattern
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1983 estee lauder christmas cameo in reliefsolid perfume compact youth dewnew
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character sketches vol 1 2 rare bill gothard basic youth home school
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1944 bonita granville youth runs wild golden era hollywood press photo
2014 nanjing youth olympic games yog torch relay bronze medal badge pin lanyard
2010 singapore youth olympic games yog 5 pins puzzles map animals
1966 ben cooper green hornet costume youth size large 12 14
albanian dictator enver hoxha book albanian youth for bulding up socialism 1957
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The relationship between youth sport specialization and involvement in sport and physical activity in young adulthood.
Youth sport participation in the United States is associated with
numerous positive health behaviors (Pate, Trost, Levin, & Dowda,
2000). This environment provides prosocial characteristics that promote
positive values, such as fair play, competitiveness, and achievement
(Pate et al., 2000), and has been linked to high levels of enjoyment
(Scanlan, 1989). Because so many children are involved, youth sport is
thought to be a significant developmental experience (Fraser-Thomas,
Cote, & Deakin, 2005). The psychological and social benefits of
regular physical activity through youth sport may help children cope
with stress, counterbalance sedentary lifestyles, foster positive
relationships and protect against youth delinquency (Pate et al., 2000;
Washington et al., 2001; World Health Organization, 1998). Sports
participation during childhood is consistently associated with greater
physical activity and sports participation in adulthood. For example,
Perkins, Jacobs, Barber, and Eccles (2004) followed a sample of 12-year
old adolescents until early adulthood and found that those who
participated in sports as adolescents were more likely to participate in
sports and physical activity as young adult. Similar results have been
shown for European youth (Tammelin, Nayha, Hills, & Jarvelin, 2003),
and sports participation during adolescence has been shown to be a
better predictor of sport participation 20 years later than
socioeconomic status (Scheerder et al., 2006). Finally, participation in
organized youth sport is associated with greater physical activity and
better subjective health during young adulthood, and this relationship
is independent of participation in other forms of general physical
activity, suggesting that youth sports have a unique influence on young
adults' health and sport behaviors (Dodge & Lambert, 2009).
In recent years, however, the youth sport focus has shifted from
spontaneous, fun-oriented, youth-organized activities to
highly-structured, adult-organized sport (Ewing, Seefeldt, & Brown,
1996), and an outcome has been a growing trend of youth sport
specialization, defined as a year-round training program in one sport at
the elimination of other activities (Wiersma, 2000). Optimal individual
and team sport performance may require a certain degree of sport
specialization (Hill & Simons, 1989), and youth athletes who
practice skills with increased frequency and duration are likely to
become more proficient (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993; Ward,
Hodges, Williams, & Starkes, 2004). However, research has indicated
that sport expertise may be acquired from sport practice at an early age
without the need for early specialization and a singular focus on
sport-specific practice (Baker, Cote, & Abernathy, 2003). Youth
sport specialization comes with psychological and physical risks
(Hecimovich, 2004), including withdrawal/burnout (Coakley, 2009; Gould,
2010; Gould, Tuffey, Udry, & Loehr, 1996), increased injury risk
(Kaleth & Mikesky, 2010), and stress associated with
over-involvement and expectations of parents and significant others
Participation in multiple youth sports, also referred to as early
sampling (Cote, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009), appears to maximize
physiological development (Barnett, Van-Beuren, Morgan, Brooks, &
Beard, 2008; Busseri, Rose-Krasnor, Willoughby, & Chalmers, 2006).
During growth and development, youths' bodies are physiologically
predisposed to non-specialized physical activities. Therefore, physical
development and success in sports are enhanced by participating in
multiple sports in a manner that allows for periods of active rest and
recuperation (Kaleth & Mikesky, 2010). As such, the consensus is
that specialization may be more likely to inhibit or distort balanced
physical development, limit motor development and learning (Branta,
2010; Cote, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009) and undermine the forms of
participation that maximize lifelong fitness and well-being (National
Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2010).
Youth sport participation may be especially important as a physical
activity outlet, given the growing childhood obesity epidemic (Hancox,
Milne, & Poulton, 2004; Schwimmer, Burwinkle, & Varni, 2003;
Stensel, Gorely, & Biddle, 2008). Between the ages 6 and 11, almost
19% of youth are overweight, up from 6.5% in 1980 and in adolescents
(12-19 years old), 17.4% are obese (Ogden et al., 2006). For many youth,
organized sport is their primary physical activity (Brustad,
Vilhjalmsson, & Fonseca, 2008). Furthermore, recent trends support
the idea that organized youth sport involvement replace more traditional
forms of physical play for youth, such as self-organized physical games
(deliberate play) and modified forms of traditional sports (Centers for
Disease Control, 2003; Coakley, 2009). Thus, organized youth sport may
not add opportunities for youth to be active, but instead replace
traditional forms of youth physical activity (Brustad, Vilhjalmsson,
& Fonseca, 2008). Despite findings that children who participate in
youth sport are more likely to be physically active in general (Kraut,
Melmanmed, Gofer, & Fromm, 2003), and that youth sports
participation is associated with increased physical activity and sports
participation later in life (Dodge & Lambert, 2009; Perkins, Jacobs,
Barber, & Eccles, 2004; Scheerder et al., 2006; Tammelin et al.,
2003), there is a dearth of research examining whether individuals who
specialize in one youth sport vary on attitudes toward physical activity
and sport participation as young adults.
Concern regarding youth sport specialization effects on long-term
sport participation and physical activity involvement stems from various
factors. First, intensive devotion to a single sport may limit overall
fundamental motor skill development, which could in turn influence
long-term physical activity involvement and lifelong sport participation
(Branta, 2010; Wiersma, 2000). Year-round participation in one sport can
lead to overuse, over-training, and injury, thereby limiting overall
growth and physical development (Hollander, Meyers, & LeUnes, 1995;
Kaleth & Mikesky, 2010) and may lead to premature withdrawal.
Moreover, it has been recommended that young athletes should have a
minimum of two to three months off each year from their sport for injury
recovery and burnout prevention (Brenner, 2007), a rest period that may
not occur when specializing in one sport. Psychologically, learning a
wide range of physical skills and being exposed to diverse experiences
and relationships promotes psychological development (Gould, 2010) and
specialization may weaken intrinsic motivation to participate in sport
(Ewing & Seefeldt, 1996; Gould, 2010). Also, enjoyment is a
consistent predictor of physical activity involvement (Stucky-Ropp,
Vanderwal, & Gotham, 1998; Weiss, 2000) and when youth specialize in
a single sport, it may transform intrinsically-based participation
motivations into more extrinsic reasons (Fraser-Thomas & Cote, 2006)
and lessening the inherent activity enjoyment. In fact, during early
stages of development, lack of enjoyment is the single most important
reason for sport withdrawal altogether (Butcher, Lindner, & Johns,
The term "organized youth sports" refers to all types of
adult-structured competitive sports provided for children and
adolescents, which vary from recreational to extremely competitive.
Since adults often establish the value structure within youth sports
(Coakley, 2009), one cannot assume that youth sport involvement
inherently fosters positive physical activity and sport attitudes as
well as behavioral practices in children or adolescents. Of particular
interest is how youth sport involvement influences motivation to be
physically active in later adolescent and early adult years. Because
little research has explored long-term physical, social, and
psychological effects of organized sport involvement during childhood
and adolescence, research is needed to understand the role of youth
sport involvement in the promotion of healthy physical activity
practices and adopting an active lifestyle. The Developmental Model of
Sport Participation (DMSP; Cote, Baker, & Abernathy, 2003) suggests
that youth in sport programs eventually choose to either participate at
a recreational or elite level, or they choose to drop out of sports
altogether. In order to promote prolonged participation, the model
emphasizes diversified sports participation that focuses on deliberate
play activities during the "sampling years" (ages 5-12).
Deliberate play activities (e.g., street hockey or driveway basketball)
are monitored by age adapted rules, are intrinsically motivating, and
are designed to maximize enjoyment (Fraser-Thomas & Cote, 2006).
Through sampling various sports and deliberate play, the sampling years
are vital for self-regulated sport involvement during adolescence and
young adulthood (Cote, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009).
Youth sport specialization may foster negative attitudes toward
sport and physical activity, especially if specialization results in
physical injury, increased competitive anxiety, burnout and early
dropout. Deci and Ryan's Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci &
Ryan, 1985) posits that competence, autonomy, and relatedness are three
basic human needs, and the degree to which they are satisfied determines
intrinsic motivation for that activity. Many sport factors are related
to intrinsic motivation (Vallerand & Rousseau, 2001) such as playing
for a democratic coach (versus a controlling coach), participating in
recreational settings focused on skill development (versus a competitive
league), and having high perceived control over one's participation
conditions (versus having the conditions of participation mandated by
supervising adults; Weinberg & Gould, 2011). Therefore, program
features of highly specialized sport settings (e.g., lack of perceived
control over participation conditions) may reduce self-determination,
lessening intrinsic motivation for that activity. Talent development
within youth sport may depend on whether youth emotionally bond to an
activity so they can self-regulate their own skill mastery (Coakley,
2009). Yet, to the degree that youth sport specialization is linked to
greater risk of burnout, lack of perceived autonomy for participation,
and dropout, youth may develop lower participation motivation of a given
sport in particular or sport in general. Therefore, an unfortunate
outcome of youth sport dropout is that youth may sever a link to a more
active lifestyle, both in youth and as a young adult. Examining young
adults' recall of their youth sport experience may be important in
that a common issue cited by adolescents and young adults concerning
whether to engage in physical activity and sport is based on personal
recollections of their sport and physical education experiences (Coakley
& White, 1992).
The purpose of this study was to determine if youth sport
specialization and retrospective recall of youth sport experiences were
related to participants' perceptions of and participation in sport
and physical activity as young adults. Based on previous research
indicating that youth specializing in sport at younger ages had shorter
sport careers and negative implications for long-term sport involvement
(Carlson, 1988; Gould, Tuffey, Udry, & Loehr, 1996; Wall & Cote,
2007), it was hypothesized that young adults who specialized in one
sport as youth athletes would report different attitudes toward and
lower participation in physical activity and sport as young adults.
A sample of 153 participants (71 males; 82 females) was obtained
through general education wellness courses at a mid-size Midwestern
university. Participants' ages ranged from 18 to 22, with a mean
age of 19.80. General education courses were selected because all
students were required to enroll in these courses at this institution,
regardless of major, therefore minimizing a selection bias due to
over-representation of certain majors such as physical education majors.
Demographic Questionnaire. Participants completed a survey which
included basic demographic information (gender and age), whether they
specialized in a single sport as a youth athlete, their current
participation classification in the sport(s) they participated in as a
youth (competitive participant, recreational participant, do not
currently participate), as well as questions about current frequency of
sport participation, aerobic exercise, and resistance training.
In addition, a set of items was developed for this survey which
examined participants' general retrospective perceptions of their
youth sport experience and the scope of these questions was based on
noted risks and benefits of youth sport participation NASPE 2010;
Wiersma, 2000) as well reasons given by youth for participation and
withdrawal from sport (Hecimovich, 2004; Weinberg & Gould, 201 I).
The 17 items (1) were set to a five point Likert scale (l=strongly
disagree to 5=strongly agree), such that a higher overall score from
these 17 items indicated more positive overall retrospective perceptions
of youth sport. An example of a positive-oriented item was "I felt
a sense of accomplishment within my sport." An example of a
negative-oriented item was "I felt isolated in my own small world
of my sport" and negative-oriented items were reverse-scored. A
Cronbach's alpha test was conducted to determine the internal
consistency of the 17 items developed for this study to measure young
adults' perceptions of their youth sport experience. The resultant
Cronbach's alpha ([alpha] =.77) indicated acceptable internal
reliability for this set of items (Nunnaly, 1978).
Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale. The Physical Activity Enjoyment
Scale (PACES; Kendzierski & DeCarlo, 1991) is an 18-item scale
employing bipolar adjectives in a 7-point semantic differential format.
The PACES is designed to assess the extent to which an individual
experiences a particular physical activity as enjoyable. For example,
participants are asked to respond to how they feel about physical
activity using bipolar adjectives such as "I enjoy it--I hate
it", "It's very invigorating--it's not at all
invigorating", and "it's very pleasant--it's very
unpleasant." Evidence for the validity and reliability of the PACES
has been demonstrated (Kendzierski & DeCarlo, 1991). Cronbach alpha
coefficients of .93 to .96 have been reported (Crocker, Bouffard, &
Gessaroli, 1995) and evidence for test-retest reliability (Zervas,
Ekkakakis, Emmanuel, Psychoudki, & Kakkos, 1993) and construct
validity (Crocker et al., 1995) of the scale has been provided.
After obtaining project approval from the university Institutional
Review Board and permission from course instructors, students who agreed
to participate and who also met age eligibility requirements (between 18
and 22 years-old), and who participated in organized youth sport prior
to 15 years of age completed a survey packet. Because a distinction has
been made between youth sport and interscholastic sport (Coakley, 2009),
youth sport was defined as organized sport programs for children age 14
and younger, based on the 2010 position statement from the National
Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, 2010) on youth
sport program guidelines. Youth sport specialization was defined as
youth athletes limiting their athletic participation to one sport which
was practiced, trained for, and competed in throughout the year. Surveys
were directly administered to participants within general education
courses and participants completed the survey packets in less than
All analyses were conducted using SPSS 17.0 for Windows (SPSS Inc.,
Chicago, IL). Two separate independent t-tests were conducted to
determine current physical activity enjoyment and positive perceptions
of youth sport experience, based on sport specialization status in
The first t-test on PACES scores determined whether
participants' current enjoyment of physical activity differed as a
function of whether or not they specialized in one youth sport. The
second t-test determined whether participants' overall positive
perceptions of their youth sport experience (total score from items
1-17) differed according to whether or not they specialized in one sport
as a youth athlete. Chi-square procedures were used to examine whether
there was a relationship between whether young adults specialized in one
youth sport and their current sport participation classification.
Finally, multiple regression procedures were used to determine whether
gender, youth specialization classification, and overall retrospective
youth sport perceptions were predictive of physical activity enjoyment
as young adults. Participants' PACES score served as the criterion
variable in the regression analysis, while gender, specialization
classification, and overall positive perception score (items 1-17)
served as predictor variables in the model. The a priori significance
level established for all analyses was at the p =.05 level.
The final sample of 153 participants consisted of 71 males (M age =
20.07 years; SD = 1.29) and 82 females (Mage = 19.57 years; SD = 1.32).
Ethnicities of the current sample indicated that 121 participants were
Caucasian (79%), 23 were African-American (15%), four were
Asian-American (2.6%), three were Hispanic (2%), and two were
American-Indian (1.3%). Eighty-seven participants (56.9%) of the total
sample reported specializing in a single sport as a youth athlete. The
most frequently reported sports participants specialized in were
basketball (n = 17), soccer (n = 17), softball (n = 11), football (n =
11), and baseball (n = 10); these five sports accounted for 76% of all
youth sports reported in the current sample as demonstrated in Table 1.
In addition, participants who specialized in a single sport were asked
to recall the age they began specializing in that sport. While ages
varied, 17 participants (11.1%) reported beginning specializing at age
8, while 15 participants (9.8%) reported beginning to specialize at age
5 (Figure 1). Participants were asked to classify their current
participation status in the sport they participated in as a youth
athlete. Thirty-three participants (21.6%) indicated they were currently
competitive participants in that sport, 66 participants (43.1%)
indicated they were currently recreational participants in that sport,
and 54 (35.3%) participants indicated they no longer participated in the
sport they played as a youth.
Results from the independent t-test comparing participants'
specialization classification on physical activity enjoyment were
nonsignificant (t = .496, p > .05). Separate independent t-tests
comparing current exercise frequency based on specialization
classification were nonsignificant for both aerobic exercise frequency
(t = .101, p > .05) and strength training frequency (t = 1.74, p >
.05) as young adults. In addition, overall retrospective perceptions of
participants' youth sport experience did not differ as a function
of whether they specialized in a single sport as youth (t = .310, p >
.05). However, Chi square results examining the relationship between
whether young adults specialized in one sport as a youth and current
sport participation status were significant ([X.sup.2] (2) = 8.77, p
< .05), indicating that those who specialized in a single sport as
youth athletes were less likely to participate in sports as young
adults, compared to participants who played multiple youth sports.
Finally, results from the multiple regression procedure to predict young
adults' physical activity enjoyment from their youth sport
specialization classification (specialize, did not specialize), overall
positive perceptions of youth sport (items 1-17), and gender revealed a
significant overall equation (F(3,149) = 7.32, p < .001), with an
[R.sup.2] of. 128. Participants' predicted physical activity
enjoyment score was equal to 56.27 - 1.91 (SPECIALIZATION STATUS) + .78
(TOTAL PERCEPTION SCORE)--2.80 (GENDER), where specialization status was
coded as 1 = specialized, 2 = did not specialize, total perception score
was participants' overall perception score from items 1-17, and
gender was coded as l = male and 2 = female. While neither gender nor
specialization classification were predictors of physical activity
enjoyment as young adults, participants' total youth sport
experience perception score (items 1-17) was a significant predictor of
young adults' physical activity enjoyment (p<.001), indicating
that as perceptions of one's youth sport experience were more
positive, physical activity enjoyment increased as a young adult.
The purpose of this study was to ascertain if youth sport
specialization and retrospective recall of youth sport experiences were
related to perceptions of and participation patterns in sport and
physical activity as young adults. A substantial proportion of
participants (76%) reported specializing in one of five team sports:
basketball, soccer, softball, football, or baseball. Young adults'
physical activity enjoyment was not influenced by whether they
specialized in a single sport as youth. In addition, self-reported
exercise frequency (aerobic exercise and resistance training) in young
adulthood was not influenced by whether participants specialized in a
single sport as youth. However, those who specialized in a single sport
as youth were less likely to actively participate in sport as a young
adult. This result supports previous findings that youth sport
specialization may have detrimental implications for long-term sport
involvement (Carlson, 1988; Gould et al., 1996; Wall & Cote, 2007).
In addition, participants' perceptions of their youth sport
experience predicted physical activity enjoyment as a young adult,
regardless of whether or not they specialized in a single sport.
Specifically, more positive perceptions of youth sport were associated
with greater physical activity enjoyment increased as young adults.
The current findings represent several interesting insights into
young adults perceptions of their youth sport experiences and physical
activity and sport behavior patterns as young adults. While young
adults' physical activity enjoyment was not related to sport
specialization in youth, overall perceptions of one's youth sport
experience appeared to be related to physical activity enjoyment in
young adults. This finding supports the contention that positive youth
sport experiences enhance continued interest in the physical domain
(Baker, 2003; Brustad, 1996; Butcher, Lidner, & Jones, 2002;
Wiersma, 2000) and that early sport diversification is linked to a
longer sport career and has positive implications for long-term
involvement (Cote, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009). Neither young
adults' physical activity enjoyment nor exercise frequency were
influenced by specialization status; yet the hypothesis that young
adults who specialized in one sport in their youth would report lower
participation in sport as young adults was supported. Taken together,
these findings may indicate a combination of developmental and
motivational factors characteristic of highly-organized,
adult-controlled, specialized sport settings that may have accounted for
different participation rates as young adults.
Youth sport programs are developmentally important because they
have potential to help develop fundamental motor skills which serve as a
foundation for future recreational adult sport participants (Branta,
2010; Fraser-Thomas & Cote, 2006). If children do not acquire a good
repertoire of fundamental locomotor skills, they may confront skill
proficiency barriers, making it difficult for success at higher levels
of skill acquisition. In addition, the DMSP model suggests that children
who enter into sport programs eventually choose to participate
recreationally, at an elite level, or withdraw from sport participation
(Cote, Baker, & Abernathy 2003). In order to promote continued
participation, the model emphasizes diversity in sport participation,
with a focus on deliberate play activities in the "sampling
years" (ages 5-12). In their recent position statement on youth
sport specialization, NASPE (2010) indicated that single-sport
specialization was more likely to "inhibit or distort balanced
physical development, restrict skill-development opportunities and
undermine the forms of sport participation that maximize lifelong
fitness and well-being" (NASPE, 2010, p.3). In considering both the
DMSP model and NASPE's position statement then, a developmental
concern observed in the current study was the self-reported age at which
participants indicated they began single-sport specialization. According
to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2000), adolescence begins at 13
years of age and their recommendation is that single-sport
specialization should be discouraged before adolescence. Yet, out of 87
participants in the current study who self-reported they specialized in
one sport as youth, Figure 1 demonstrates that 79 (91%) participants
indicated they began specializing in their sport before reaching
adolescence. Therefore, the recommendation of diversity in participation
during sampling years may not be occurring for many youth athletes and
practices observed in the current study directly contradict pediatric
From a motivational perspective, sport specialization may lessen
youths' sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which are
important to long-term motivation as indicated by Self-Determination
Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000). For example,
overly-competitive settings driven by extrinsic motivational sources
(e.g., social status, advancing to the next higher competitive level,
extrinsic rewards such as trophies and rankings) which are more evident
in specialized settings, may be less likely to be available to them in
later years. In addition, when youth athletes specialize in a single
sport, their experience is more likely organized and controlled by
coaches, parents, and administrators that lessen the youth's sense
of autonomy in that context. Perceptions of low autonomy can result in
emotional exhaustion or burnout, particularly in highly invested
athletes such as those who specialize in a single sport (Coakley, 1992;
Raedeke, 1997). Related to this motivational context, it is interesting
to note that applied research examining youths' motivation to stay
engaged with physical activity has found that being forced to exercise
during childhood actually decreased the likelihood of continuing
activity in adulthood (Taylor, Blair, Cummings, Wun, & Malina,
1999). Therefore, a similar decrease of personal autonomy for
participation in specialized sport settings may play a role in lessening
participation as an adult.
In terms of perceived competence, youth specializing in one sport
may encounter more of a "survival of the fittest" experience,
making future sport participation in that sport less likely if they have
lower perceived competence in that sport. Social comparison factors may
be more salient in such settings and youth athletes may be more
vulnerable to lower perceived competence as they continually compare
themselves to an increasingly rigorous standard. Self-determined
motivation patterns are most likely to promote long-term sport and
physical activity participation (Brustad, Vilhjalmsson, & Fonseca,
2008). Future research will need to directly examine the motivational
constructs of perceived autonomy, competence, and relatedness when
determining young adults' perceptions of their youth sport
experience. These variables may shed light on self-deterministic factors
that influence attitudes toward physical activity and sport, as well as
participation patterns when individuals develop from adolescence into
It is important to note several limitations of the study. First,
the sample size was limited and over 79% of the sample was Caucasian, so
these results may not be generalized to other races. Future research in
the area of youth sport specialization also needs to examine perceptions
of other ethnicities on their youth sport experience. Second, the use of
a college student sample was viewed as a limitation, since young adults
in college tend to come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and thus
may have more similar youth sport experiences. Future research needs to
examine this relationship in young adults from a much wider range of
socioeconomic backgrounds. Third, the majority (76%) of sports that were
specialized in from this sample were team sports. It is possible that
the different social dynamics between individual and team sports may
influence participation in a given sport as an adult, however the
current study design precluded a determination of the extent to which
various social dynamics in youth sport influenced later sport
participation in adulthood. As such, this should be a focus of future
research in this area. In addition, because this study utilized a one
time, cross-sectional approach that incorporated the use of
participants' retrospective recall of their youth sport experience,
it is acknowledged that there are inherent limitations to accuracy in
recall over time. Long-term, prospective studies are needed in which
youth sport participants who specialize in a single sport are followed
from youth into adolescence and young adulthood to more accurately track
physical activity and sport behavior patterns of those who specialize in
In conclusion, young adults' sport participation patterns
appear to be associated with their sport specialization status as youth
athletes. Future research should examine the extent to which young
adults' perceptions competence, autonomy, relatedness (Deci &
Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) experienced during youth sport
influences long-term sport participation, as well as long-term enjoyment
of sport and physical activity participation.
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William D. Russell and Ashley N. Limle
Missouri Western State University
(1) The first author may be contacted for a copy of the instrument
used in this study.
Address Correspondence to: William D. Russell, PhD. Dept. of
Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Missouri Western State
University, 214 Looney Complex, St. Josesph, MO 64507. Phone:
Figure 1. Frequency of ages at which participants reported specializing in a single youth sport Frequency Self-reported age of specialization 3 1 4 6 5 15 6 8 7 7 8 17 9 5 10 9 11 6 12 4 13 7 14 2 Note: Table made from bar graph.