Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
School of Kinesiology and Recreation
Noelle M. Selkow
Context: Previous research has demonstrated a high prevalence of extrinsic pressures among single sport athletes. The influence of parental beliefs on a high school student athlete’s decision to participate in a single sport rather than multiple sports has yet to be determined. Objective: To estimate a student athlete’s level of sport specialization from parental sport specialization beliefs and to investigate independent relationships of potential factors influencing the decision to pursue a single sport. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: High school athletics. Participants: Fifty-seven high school student athletes (25 females, 32 males; mean age 15.6±1.6 years) selected onto freshmen, junior varsity, or varsity teams of soccer, volleyball, or basketball and their parents (34 females, 23 males; mean age 46.9±5.2 years) of two large (mean enrollment 1,805 students) public suburban schools. Intervention: Modified versions of two surveys previously used in sport specialization research were distributed to student athletes and parents at the beginning of each sport’s season. Results: Regression analyses demonstrated that student athlete sports specialization was not associated with parents’ beliefs about specialization (level of agreement in sustaining an overuse injury: χ2=0.68, df=2, p=0.71 and whether early sports specialization is a problem: χ2=5.51, df=2, p=0.06. When a parent responded that early sport specialization was “a problem”, the odds of a student athlete being classified as highly specialized was 3.22 times higher than if a parent responded that early sport specialization was “not a problem”. Further, when a parent responded that they “agreed” with participating in one organized sport year-round increases their child’s likelihood of sustaining an overuse injury, the odds of a student athlete being classified as highly specialized was 1.51 higher than if the parent responded they had “no opinion” on the matter. However, neither of these odds ratios were statistically significant. Significant non-parametric correlations were found between sport specialization and the following parent perceived influential factors in an athlete’s decision to pursue a single sport: need to stay competitive with other children (rs=0.636, p=0.01), better chance to receive a scholarship/contract (rs=0.501, p=0.01). Conclusion: The analysis of the data did not support the hypothesis that parental beliefs were associated with student athlete sport specialization. As an athlete’s specialization level increases, parents perceived that staying competitive with other children and a better chance to receive a scholarship/contract as more influential in an athlete’s decision to pursue a single sport.
KEYWORDS: Sport; Parent; Specialization
Mercier, Henry, "The Association Between Parental Beliefs About Sport Specialization And Athlete Sport Specialization Classification" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 875.