The Association Between Parents’ Beliefs About Youth Sport Specialization and Their Children’s Specialization Status


  • Stephen Strosser Wilmington University


youth sport, youth sport specialization, specialization, overuse injury, early sport specialization, youth athlete, children, parent


The upward trend of specialized youth athletes is commonly associated with parents; however, there is little empirical evidence to support this idea. The purpose of the present study was to determine parents’ beliefs about youth sport specialization and the relationship between these beliefs and their children’s specialization status. Five hundred and thirty-five youth sport parents were surveyed on their beliefs about youth sport specialization. Descriptive statistics indicated most participants do not view youth sport specialization as a serious problem, do not believe youth sport specialization increases children’s susceptibility to injury, and are not concerned with the injury risks associated with specialization. Further, the data showed most participants believe youth sport specialization increases children’s chances of getting better at their primary sport, and many believe specialization increases children’s chances of making a high school athletic team and college athletic team. Chi-square analyses revealed a statistically significant association between children’s specialization status and participants’ views on specialization (p < .001), in addition to parents’ beliefs youth sport specialization increases children’s chances of making a high school team (p = .001), making a college team (p < .001), getting injured (p < .001), and getting better at their primary sport (p < .001). Based on the results of this study, youth sport leaders should be more engaged in educating parents about the potential detriments of specialization.


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