Publication: The Prevalence of Within-Sport Specialization in Track and Field Athletics, and its Consequences for Participation and Retention

Research Impact:  Athletics coaches and administrators often encourage young adolescents to compete across the full range of athletic disciplines: sprinting, jumping, throwing and endurance running. This study found that while specialisation within a single event group was rare for young adolescent athletes, less than 35% of participants competed across all four disciplines. The extent to which an athlete competed across multiple disciplines as a young adolescent had no relationship with their retention in the sport in later years, and results relating to later performance were mixed. Coaches, parents and administrators should consider an athlete’s diet of activity across sports as well as within sports.

Kearney, P.E., Comyns, T.M., and Hayes, P.  2020.  The Prevalence and Consequences of Within-Sport Specialization in Track and Field Athletics.  Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. DOI:10.1080/02701367.2020.1776819

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