Sport specialization the brief, but telling conclusion…
The study’s findings are relatively convincing. The elite group tended to devote far less time at earlier ages in sport-specific training.
Additionally, early Sport Specialization was found to be a likely predictor of classification as a near-elite athlete.
In other words, while the early sport specialization may have been beneficial to overall performance, the athletes who tended to excel the most had instead focused on multilateral athletic development early in their growth and avoided the high technical skill, intensity, and specificity of unique sport preparation until such foundational skills were well established.
While not nearly as compelling as a longitudinal intervention or treatment-based design with actual measured outcomes, the study does further support the idea that early specialization might provide young athletes with an immediate or near immediate advantage over their slower-progressing LTAD counterparts.
However, when considering outcome alone, this investigation supports the notion that the best outcomes over the span of a career were associated with the late specialization model.
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