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The ‘common wisdom’
Among many parents and coaches, it is believed that early single sport specialisation is essential for future competitive sport success and, further, that a high level of achievement in youth sports predicts future success. Owing to these misconceptions, youth sport has become focused on results at young ages rather than the overall development process, including physical and psychosocial health and well-being.
The emphasis on competitive success in youth sports has been driven by a variety of factors including efforts to make elite travel or club teams, attend exclusive camps or showcase events, secure high school roster spots, garner collegiate scholarships and achieve professional careers. In addition, in the USA, the college recruiting process itself is a significant issue, with those as young as the eighth grade committing to a college programme.1 All of this has led to pressure to begin high-intensity training and single sport specialisation in childhood. As a consequence, many parents and young athletes are concerned that not specialising early will place them at a disadvantage in achieving their sport-related goals. In the sport of basketball, a recent National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) survey found that ∼49% of men and 55% of women at the Division 1 level …
Contributors All authors significantly contributed to the development of this manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.