Sport Participation and Specialization Characteristics Among Pediatric Soccer Athletes

the PRiSM Sports Specialization Research Interest Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Soccer is an increasingly popular sport for children and adolescents in the United States. Little is known about participation patterns related to sport specialization. Purpose: To investigate soccer participation levels and sport specialization characteristics among youth soccer athletes. Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Adolescent athletes aged between 12 and 18 years completed an online survey addressing participant demographics, sports and soccer participation history, and level of specialization. Descriptive analyses characterized participation, while chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis tests assessed the influence of specialization, sex, and grade on survey variables. Results: Overall, 83.7% of 746 respondents participated in an organized soccer league outside of school, and 37% played in multiple leagues concurrently. Nearly three-quarters of respondents trained in soccer more than 8 months of the year, with those who participated in club soccer being more likely to train more than 8 months of the year. More respondents were classified as high specialization (37.5%), followed by moderate (35.6%) and low (28.6%) specialization. No differences between sexes were noted for level of specialization or quitting other sports to specialize in soccer, but male athletes were more likely to train more than 8 months per year compared with female athletes. Respondents in older grades (9th-10th and 11th-12th grades) were more likely to be highly specialized and quit other sports to focus on soccer. No differences between grade levels were found among respondents training more than 8 months per year. Conclusion: The study findings suggest that many youth soccer athletes participated in multiple teams or leagues at the same time and trained more than 8 months of the year. Characteristics including participation on a club team, level of specialization, and male sex were associated with a greater likelihood of exceeding the 8-month training recommendation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Soccer
Athletes
Sports
Pediatrics
Surveys and Questionnaires
Sex Characteristics
Cross-Sectional Studies
History
Demography

Keywords

  • American development model
  • long-term athlete development model
  • overtraining
  • sport sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Cite this

Sport Participation and Specialization Characteristics Among Pediatric Soccer Athletes. / the PRiSM Sports Specialization Research Interest Group.

In: Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 3, 01.03.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

the PRiSM Sports Specialization Research Interest Group. / Sport Participation and Specialization Characteristics Among Pediatric Soccer Athletes. In: Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2019 ; Vol. 7, No. 3.
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