Investigating the Common Myths Leading Parents to Enroll Their Children in Early Sport Specialization


  • Obidiah Atkinson The Ohio State University
  • Jacqueline D. Goodway



youth sports, early sport specialization, parents, myths, athlete development


An estimated 60 million children between the ages of six and 18 participate in some form of organized athletics in the United States. Unfortunately, the youth sport landscape has changed where parents and athletes are informed by organizations and coaches that early sport specialization (ESS) is an essential requirement to elite performance. Despite evidence that opposes this limited track, parents still continue to overlook the potential negative consequences. Although, the media commonly portrays ESS as the only pathway to success, research of Olympians and elite athletes in team sports indicates otherwise. To date, there has been on-going research that examines the outcomes of ESS on athletes, but a large portion focuses solely on athlete burnout and injuries from specializing too early. On the contrary, there has been less attention towards the interactions of programs and coaches on parents, who greatly influence their child’s sporting experience. Parents place trust in programs and coaches but are often misled by common myths. The purpose of this article is to summarize the common myths that lead parents to enroll their children in ESS. Whereby raising awareness to these three common myths, parents can become better informed on the perceived requirement of ESS to elite performance in youth sport.