Parental views on sport specialization for adolescent volleyball players

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Callie E. Phillips (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: Many athletes specialize in one sport before or during adolescence. Although specialization has benefits for skill development, many athletes face negative psychological and physiological consequences like burnout and overuse injuries, especially when they specialize early. In many cases, athletes and their families are seemingly driven by factors like college scholarships or elite performance and agree to specialization without understanding the possible harmful side effects. The purpose of this project was to investigate parents’ views on specialization and to use the findings to develop more impactful and relevant approaches to educate families as they determine whether to pursue specialization. Parents, stepparents, grandparents, and guardians of adolescent club volleyball players completed surveys (n = 184) and/or participated in focus groups (n = 25) to share their understanding of sport specialization, why they might encourage or discourage it, and possible pressures and sources of information on sport specialization. The most common reasons for encouraging specialization were skill development/achieving expert status, passion for/love of the sport, and learning team sport values. The most common reasons for discouraging specialization were excluding other activities, valuing well-roundedness/other sports, and burnout/overuse injuries. Surprisingly, 90% of influential adults in this survey reported that they did not feel outside pressure for their child to specialize. Most (83%) influential adults had not received any information about specialization, and only 31% had ever discussed specialization with their child, reinforcing the need for targeted information to help educate them on the topic and provide suggestions for navigating the decision to specialize as a family.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Multi-sport, Single-sport, Sport sampling, Sport specialization, Volleyball, Youth sport participation
Volleyball for girls
Teenage athletes
Parent and child

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