NCAA survey finds many athletes regret specialization

January 25, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Among the findings in this year’s NCAA GOALS study was that many college student-athletes regret specializing in a single sport when they were younger.

NCAAResults from the 2015 GOALS Study of the Student-Athlete Experience were revealed at this year’s NCAA Convention. This is the third time in the last 10 years the NCAA has conducted the survey, which studies the experiences and well-being of current student-athletes.

Part of the study examined youth sports experiences among NCAA student-athletes. It found many athletes — especially those in hockey and soccer — began specializing before the age of 12.

The survey concluded that “student-athletes in many sports played that sport year-round growing up and participated in the sport on both club and high school teams. Many NCAA athletes think youth in their sport play in too many contests and a number of them (especially men) wish they had spent more time sampling other sports when they were young.”

In Division I, soccer (68%) and tennis (66%) led the way with the most athletes who began specializing by the age of 12. Track (9%) was at the bottom, followed by lacrosse (12%) and football (29%). Statistics from men’s and women’s Division I sports can be found below.

It would have been insightful to read the actual comments from student-athletes about specialization, but they weren’t included in the results. The study touches other topics such as on-campus support, the time commitments of athletics and expectations of themselves and family members.

Click here to see the complete survey.

The percent of male student-athletes in each Division I sport who say they specialized by the age of 12. | Source: NCAA
The percent of male student-athletes in each Division I sport who say they specialized by the age of 12. | Source: NCAA

 

The percent of female student-athletes in each Division I sport who say they specialized by the age of 12. | Source: NCAA
The percent of female student-athletes in each Division I sport who say they specialized by the age of 12. | Source: NCAA


5 thoughts on “NCAA survey finds many athletes regret specialization”

  1. I cannot find the statistics in the NCAA information that supports the opening sentence/conclusion: “many college student-athletes regret specializing in a single sport when they were younger.”

    Where exactly is this survey result found?

      1. I have viewed all 131 pages. What page(s) exactly supports the conclusion that “college student-athletes REGRET specializing”?

        I don’t believe that their is such a result within the survey and that the author of this blog wanted this conclusion and stated it but cannot support it.

        1. Page 62 of the report: “Many NCAA athletes … wish they had spent more time sampling other sports when they were younger.” Read that quote, then check the dictionary for “regret.” I didn’t put the word in quotations because it wasn’t explicitly stated that way, but the second entry in the dictionary reads “to think of with a sense of loss.” If you think that’s not an accurate representation, and I’m a bias author, I look forward to reading your analysis of what the athletes really meant.

        2. You point out a bias that’s been evident in this publication’s misinterpretation of other statistics related to specialization. It may be true that college athletes regret specializing, but that certainly isn’t supported by this survey’s results. I would also like to know the NCAA’s definition of specialization, as I’m skeptical that such a high % specialized (played that sport exclusively, year round) by age 12.

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