The research was done in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University and was made possible through a grant from the Michigan State University College of Education Dissertation and Research Practicum Fellowship. The study investigated Division I athletes’ level of participation in sports earlier in their lives and their opinions about specializing in one sport.
More than a thousand athletes were given a self-report survey about their background with playing sports and their perceptions on specialization in one sport. The study found that the athletes’ participation in their collegiate sport started at around 9 years of age and specialization, if any, began at about 12 or 13 years of age. The study also discerned that participation and specialization started earlier for some sports than others, but no differences existed between scholarship status or expected playing status. The conclusions of the study support prior research that states specialization is not a requirement for elite level performance.