The findings indicate that surveyed Olympians were involved in an average of three sports per year until the age of 14. From 15-18 years of age, athletes reported participating in an average of 2.2 sports per year. Surveyed Olympians had decreased involvement to an average of 1.27 sports during ages 19-22 and 1.31 sports after age 22 (USA Olympic committee, 2014). Similar number were reported in Australia and Germany with interna-tional level athletes (Malina, 2010, 367). In Russia Barynina and Vaitsekhovskii’s (1992 in Fraser-Thomas, Cote ; Deaking, 2008, 320), found that the swimmers who specialized later, reached international level faster, stayed in national team longer and retired later than early specializers. In a poll made by USA Swimming of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Team, 83 percent of the athletes stated that they were multi-sport athletes growing up, presenting resounding sta-tistical evidence from the higher level of the sport of the benefits of being a well-rounded athlete (USA Swimming, 2018).
In an observational retrospective study (Yustres, Martín, Fernández ; González-Ravé, 2017), their main goal of the research, was to determine whether the achievement of final-ist positions in the Junior Championship was associated with the achievement of success in the FINA Senior World Championships. Data was collected from 2006 to 2013 for Jun-iors and 2007 to 2015 for Seniors. Out of 719 entries from 40 different countries, their study showed that only 17.1% of the swimmers have participated in Junior before to senior finalist World Championships.
This study didn’t look into the athlete’s training history, but we can hypothesize that you don’t achieve junior or senior world championship level without extensive training back-ground.
“Also worth noting is, children who specialize in a sport and experience a great deal of success at an early age may have difficulty coping with athletic failure later in life” (Mcmurtry, 1978 in Hecimovich 2004, 36).
“As more children and adolescents participate in sports and conditioning activities (some-times without consideration for cumulative workload), it is important to establish age-appropriate training guidelines that may reduce the risk of sports-related injury and en-hance athletic performance” (Gregory, Myer, Faigenbaum, Chu, Falkel, Ford, Best & Hewett, 2011, 74).
2.5.2 Sampling approach
Co?te? and colleagues in Developmental Model of Sport Participation (Côté & Fraser-Thomas, 2007, Côté, 2003, Côté, 2007 in Côté, Horton & Al, 2009, 8) suggest 3 phase pathway to being and elite athlete which takes into account the childrens physical and psy-chological development. In the first phase called sampling years between the ages 6-12 years old children participate in multiple different sports where the practices have high amount of deliberate play and low amount of deliberate practice. Children who don’t want to continue specializing in sports, but still wants to do sports recreationally, moves on to rec-reational years phase (13+ years old) and those who want to continue to elite development continue to specializing phase (13-15 years old). In the specializing years the intensity rises, the amount of deliberate practice increases, but consists still deliberate play and there should be opportunity still in this phase to participate in more than one sport. The final phase is the investment years at 16+ years old. In this phase the athlete now fully commits only to one sport. There are number of examples and studies that show elite athletes have a multisport background (USA Swimming, 2018; USA Olympic committee, 201; Capranica ; Millard-Stafford, 2011, 574; Côté, Horton ; Al, 2009, 7). Although both, sampling and specializing early can lead to expertise (Ericsson 1993, Sosniak 1985, Gustin, 1985, Kali-nowski, 1985, Wallingford, 1975 in Baker, 2003, 87Côté, 2007 in Côté, Horton ; Al, 2009, 10) theirs is still evidence that favors the sampling approach. Specializing early is an ef-fective way to develop expertise, but it doesn’t take into account the possible negative psychological or biological consequences. Sampling on the other hand, has been de-scribed as effective way to develop sport expertise while taking into account the potential negative consequences. The sampling approach is linked to positive sport and psycholog-ical outcomes (Côté, Horton & Al, 2009, 10).
Recommended training amounts for youth sport participation is based on research sug-gesting that youth should not play one sport more than eight months of the year, train more than 16 hours of organized sports in a week and training more hours than the athletes age of organized sports in a week, training more than this is a risk factor for injury (Bell, Post & colleagues, 2016, Jayanthi, Pinkham & colleagues, 2013, Jayanthi, LaBella & colleagues, 2015, Myer, Jayanthi, Difiori, 2015, Olsen, Fleisig & colleagues, 2006, Rose, Emery, Meeuwisse, 2008 in Post & Al, 2017). This training amounts are also recommended by contemporary long-term athlete development models until late adolescence (Côté & Al, 2009, Lloyd & Oliver, 2012 in Blagrove & Colleagues, 2017, 1). In (Post & Al, 2017) they were able to demonstrate that “regardless of sport, the odds of reporting an injury were 62% to 90% higher among youth athletes who compete in 1 sport for more than 8 months of the year compared with athletes who did not exceed 8 months of participation in a single sport”. Previous research has shown that the amount of organized training hours and inju-ries are correlated and injury risk peaks in athletes who participate more than 16 hours a week in organized training (Rose, Emery, Meeuwisse, 2008 in Post & Al, 2017, 1406).
“Young athletes are encouraged to participate in a diverse range of sports and physical activities during childhood, and maintain this practice during early adolescence, which is believed to help support their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development “(Lloyd & Colleagues, 2015 in Blagrove, Bruinwells & Read, 2017, 1. Some degree of spe-cialization during adolescence is needed to reach elite level, but the timing of specialization is controversial. To avoid specializing too early, each athlete should be considered individ-ually since timing of maturation is different with every athlete (Bergeron & Colleagues, 2015 in Blagrove & Colleagues, 2017, 6). Specialized training should start in late adolescence at 15+ year old and an environment that supports psychological development should be cre-ated (Côté & Al, 2009 in Blagrove & Colleagues, 2017, 6). “Athletes should be taught to be respectful and co-operative while having the resilience and adaptability to self-regulate and cope in increasingly stressful situations as they mature” (Bergeron & Colleagues, 2015 in Blagrove & Colleagues, 2017, 6).
2.5.4 Summary list of recommendations
Encourage young people to try a range of sports so that they can discover what they enjoy and can develop the overall physical competence to maximize their success in the sports they choose to play after reaching age 15.
Ensure that young people have a wide range of experiences and relationships across many organized sports (structured play) and informal games that are organized and maintained by the young people themselves.
Evaluate youth sports programs in terms of how effectively they produce positive self-esteem, self-efficacy and perceptions of competence among young people.
Support and encourage young people to participate in sport programs that focus on developing fundamental movement skills that lead to increased skill and ability (e.g., proper technique for running, throwing, stopping and changing directions).
Inform young people about the sport participation options available to them, encour-age them to diversify their experiences in sport and physical activities, and enable them to make participation choices based on knowledge of the risks associated with speciali-zation, particularly for those younger than age 15.
Organize and support youth sports in which practices and competitions focus on learn-ing new skills, gaining confidence in one’s abilities and fostering a lifelong love of phys-ical activities among all participants regardless of their level of physical development and training experience.
Reduce overuse injuries and increase overall physical competence and well-being by emphasizing the development of sport skills (agility, balance and speed), as well as aerobic fitness and flexibility, and muscle strength and power.
Reduce burnout, boredom and dropping out from sports, and maximize the probability of personal development and success in a chosen sport by discouraging specialization in one sport until a young person can make a fully informed decision, usually at about age 15.
Seek and support coaches who can explain how their sports improve overall physical fitness, and who also make it clear that athletic scholarships are not as plentiful or comprehensive as most people think, and that most scholarships cover only part of col-lege expenses.
Emphasize enjoyment and the love of movement and physical challenges so that young people will integrate physical activity and sport participation into their lives and be motivated to maintain overall fitness and well-being throughout the course of their lives.
List from (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, an association of the American Alliance for Health, 2010).