Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH

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An Index Approach to Early Specialization Measurement: An Exploratory Study.
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Sport Psychology research group.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7937-5918
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogisk idrottsforskning.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9965-0123
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Sport Psychology research group.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3428-6900
2020 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 11, article id 999Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The methodological underpinnings of studies into early specialization have recently been critiqued. Previous researchers have commented on the variety of, and over-simplified, methods used to capture early specialization. This exploratory study, therefore, suggests a new direction for how early specialization can be conceptualized and measured. We aim to create an index approach whereby early specialization is measured as a continuous variable, in line with commonly used definitions. The continuous variable for degrees of early specialization is calculated from a questionnaire which captures the four key components of early specialization; (1) intensity, (2) year-round training, (3) single sport, and (4) commencing age 12 or younger. The proposed index approach is illustrated in a sample of 290 Swedish aesthetic performers aged 12-20 years (M = 15.88), whose descriptive statistics are used to discuss the suitability and usability of the measure. The proposed index approach functions as a guideline to future researchers. We hope that introducing a new index approach we will encourage further discussion around the measurement of early specialization. Additionally, we hope to pave the way for future research to explore more complex research questions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2020. Vol. 11, article id 999
Keywords [en]
aesthetic sport, dance, developmental pathways, early specialization, measurement, youth sport
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-6221DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00999ISI: 000540815400001PubMedID: 32528375OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-6221DiVA, id: diva2:1440961
Available from: 2020-06-15 Created: 2020-06-15 Last updated: 2023-01-24
In thesis
1. Early specialising aesthetic performers: An investigation of conceptualisation, motivation, and context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Early specialising aesthetic performers: An investigation of conceptualisation, motivation, and context
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral research project is situated within the wider debate of talent development in so-called early sports, where early specialisation is often normalised. The overarching aim is to investigate early specialisation within the context of Swedish aesthetic activities. Two research questions guided this research: 1) what characterises early specialisation, and 2) in what ways are aspects of early specialisation related to motivation?

This doctoral research project includes four individual papers. The first paper is a systematic review that investigated the contextual underpinnings of recommendations regarding early specialisation and psychological aspects (e.g., motivation, burnout). The second paper outlines the development of a measurement tool for capturing degrees of early specialisation within the context of Swedish aesthetic activities. The third paper is a cross-sectional questionnaire-based study which used this measurement tool to explore the relationship between degrees of early specialisation and motivation (autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and dropout intentions), and explored perceptions of parental influence as a moderator. The fourth paper is a qualitative interview-based study that investigated reflections on motivation throughout the training history of high-level gymnasts and figure skaters who specialised early. Additional data regarding perfectionism and parental participation in sport, collected in relation to this research but not included within the four papers, is also outlined and discussed in this thesis. 

Results highlight the complexity of early specialisation in terms of how it is defined, measured, and conceptualised, as well as the possible relationship to psychological aspects (e.g., motivation, perfectionism). Overall, the results do not align with the notion that early specialisation leads to lower quality motivation and an increased risk of dropout. 

While this research has made methodological, theoretical and empirical contributions to this research area, it is also clear that more research is needed to better understand and explain the possible outcomes often associated with early specialisation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH, 2023
Series
Avhandlingsserie för Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan ; 29
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7473 (URN)978-91-986490-9-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-02-24, Aulan, Lidingövägen 1, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-01-25 Created: 2023-01-24 Last updated: 2023-02-28Bibliographically approved

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Downing, CharlotteRedelius, KarinNordin-Bates, Sanna

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