Background/Purpose Youth sport is associated with healthy (Pate et al., 2000) and prosocial environments (Pate, Trost, Levin, & Dowda, 2000). However, youth sport specialization, characterized by year-round training in a single sport, is associated with limited motor (Branta, 2010) and social development (Coakley, 2009), injuries (Kaleth & Mikesky, 2010), and anxiety (Gould, 2010) which may undermine child development (NASPE, 2010) and may lead to less sport and physical activity as a young adult. Therefore, the purpose was to determine if young adults' youth sport experiences, including sport specialization, was related to current sport and physical activity patterns and perceptions.
Method Participants (N=153; n= 71 males; 82 females; ages 18-22, M age =19.80) completed surveys which included questions about their youth sport perceptions and the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (Kendzierski & DeCarlo, 1991).
Analysis/Results Perceptions of youth sport experiences and of physical enjoyment were not related to whether participants' sport specialization status as youth. In addition, exercise habits were not related to whether young adults specialized in youth sport. However, participants' sport participation patterns did differ according to sport specialization status (X2 (2) =8.77, p<.05), indicating those who specialized as youth were less likely to participate in sports as young adults, compared to those who did not specialize.
Conclusions Since specialization is linked to lack of perceived autonomy for participation, burnout, and dropout, youth may develop resentment toward sports, lowering participation motivation. Support was provided that early youth sport specialization may have negative influences on sport participation in young adulthood.