Early Sport Specialization: Part 1


Sport Specialization

Sport Specialization Vs LTAD


The IYCA has championed the notion that the long-term athletic development model, or LTAD, provides the greatest benefit to a developing athlete, in both physical and psychological aspects, over time. 


Contrary to ever-popular and growing model of early sport specialization, the LTAD model is intended to optimize performance slowly and equip the young athlete with foundational skills. 


Although far from “new,” in light of heavily marketed programs intended to maximize immediate potential sport specific gains, the commonsense simplicity of the LTAD model is starting to gain momentum with some practitioners.


One recent investigation slated for publication later this month has further substantiated the claims of the IYCA and similarly minded individuals.  Conducted at the University of Copenhagen, the study, entitled “Late specialization: The key to success in centimeters, grams, or seconds (cgs) sports,” will appear in an upcoming issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.  Investigators retrospectively analyzed practice and performance data from a sample of 148 “elite” and 95 “near-elite” Danish athletes over time.


Utilizing retrospective self-report data certainly is not without its research criticisms, however, the investigators consistent findings were significant. 


Elite athletes, defined as those placing in the top 10 at a world championship or by winning a medal at a European-level championship, were compared to near-elite athletes, which consisted of individuals training and registered with the Denmark national elite sports organization who had yet to meet criteria to be considered elite. 


Utilizing a web-based questionnaire, researchers posed several questions regarding training hours per week at various ages of development as well as other questions regarding sport participation and performance. 


Data were compared with simple 2-tailed t-tests and a logistic regression was used to attempt to identify whether training status (LTAD vs. early sport specialization) was predictive of classification as an “elite” athlete…


Come Back for ‘Part 2’ and The Rest of The Story Tomorrow…

Sport Specialization

In the Mean Time, Have You Seen This?


We’ve Been ‘Right’ From the Start…


Have a Look —> https://iyca.org/yfs1


– Brian




4 Responses

  1. Richie whall says:

    Sounds very promising, a good size sample at a high level though some concerns over reliability and accuracy of retrospective reports.

    look forward to the next installment and your comments and interpretation of the findings.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  2. Been saying it for years. A well rounded athlete is a better athlete.

  3. Jeff says:

    I think the same could be found true for non-specialization even if pure, no sport-specific athletic development was a part of the athlete’s life growing up.

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