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Samuel W. Logan, E. Kipling Webster, Nancy Getchell, Karin A. Pfeiffer, and Leah E. Robinson

The purpose of this review is to synthesize the evidence of the relationship between fundamental motor skills (FMS) competence and physical activity by qualitatively describing results from 13 studies that met rigorous inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria: (a) published in a peer-review journal, (b) participants were between the ages of 3–18, (c) participants were typically developing, (d) FMS was measured by a process-oriented assessment, (e) assessed physical activity, (f) related FMS and physical activity through statistical procedures, and (g) printed in English. Databases were searched for relevant articles using key terms related to FMS and physical activity. Evidence suggested low to moderate relationships between FMS competence and physical activity in early childhood (r = .16 to .48; R 2 = 3–23%, 4 studies), low to high relationships in middle to late childhood (r = .24 to .55; R 2 = 6–30%, 7 studies), and low to moderate relationships in adolescence (r = .14 to .35; R 2 = 2–12.3%, 2 studies). Across ages, object control skills and locomotor skills were more strongly related to physical activity for boys and girls, respectively. Future research should emphasize experimental and longitudinal research designs to provide further understanding of the relationship between FMS competence and physical activity.

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Timothy A. Brusseau, Sean M. Bulger, Eloise Elliott, James C. Hannon, and Emily Jones

This paper discusses lessons learned from the process of conducting community-based research with a focus on issues and topics of potential importance to leaders of departments of kinesiology. This paper is written from the perspective of physical education teacher education faculty implementing comprehensive school physical activity programming. Specifically, the paper focuses on the intersection of physical education and public health, the reconceptualization of training physical education teachers, related opportunities for community-engaged learning, and the process of relationship building in schools and communities. It is the authors’ intent that this paper will stimulate discussions relative to these topics among leaders of and faculty within kinesiology departments.

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Melissa Bopp

Engaged scholarship provides students with opportunities to learn and practice skills within both the general community and underserved populations. These types of opportunities are needed in kinesiology programs which train many allied health and wellness professionals. This paper outlines different strategies that were used to create service-learning opportunities in kinesiology undergraduate classes. Using frameworks established by national organizations (e.g., League of American Bicyclists, American Fitness Index), students have an opportunity to apply concepts of how community, policy, and the environment impact physical activity and public health. These activities help students gain experience by interacting in a professional setting; building skills for data collection, community engagement, and public speaking; and apply content from coursework to real-world situations.

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Cesar R. Torres

In contemporary sport, it is common to see children initiating their specialization at ever younger ages with the hope that this early start will assist them in making the elite ranks at a later age. The growing acceptance of early sport specialization has led to equally growing concerns among researchers. Clearly, as this thematic volume attests, early sport specialization is a controversial phenomenon. Sport philosophers have started to study the challenging issues related to early sport specialization and thus there is emerging literature addressing such issues. This paper reviews the sport philosophy literature touching on early sport specialization and focuses on some fundamental philosophical issues raised by early sport specialization. These issues are related to the right of children to an open future, dangerous sports, competition and coaching, and doping and genetic enhancements. The paper concludes with a brief commentary on the relevance of these issues for policy making.

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Jacqueline D. Goodway and Leah E. Robinson

This commentary examines the argument for early sport specialization versus sport sampling from a physical growth and motor development perspective. Three developmental frameworks are examined (Mountain of Motor Development, Developmental Model of Sport Participation, Spirals of Engagement Trajectory model) to make the case that a broad base of fundamental motor skill competence is necessary in the early years before sport specialization in the adolescent years. Early sport specialization is criticized from the standpoint of increased risk for overuse injury, concerns about long-term growth, and the fact that early and intense practice schedules often do not differentiate elite versus nonelite athletes. A strong argument is made for early sport sampling to acquire a broad base of fundamental motor skills to apply to different sports, and to allow physical maturity to develop before specializing in sport. Such an approach also better equips a child to be active across the lifespan.

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Maureen M. Smith

This article provides a historical overview of the practice of early sport specialization, primarily in the United States. Sport specialization as practiced by young athletes has been a common occurrence in several individual sports for more than 60 years. More recently, focusing on one sport has gained traction as common practice for young athletes involved in team sports. Sport specialization as a topic of research inquiry has been examined by various disciplines in kinesiology to determine the efficacy of the practice, the physiological effects, and the advantages and disadvantages, as well as to offer possible solutions to the drawbacks associated with sport specialization. Popular press outlets, including newspapers, books, magazines, and online sources, have also joined the debate over the merits of sport specialization.

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Peter A. Hastie

This paper examines the literature within sport pedagogy that addresses early sport specialization. The paper is presented in two sections. First, research on a number of common sense assumptions about early specialization is examined from a pedagogical perspective: (a) Is limiting youths’ experiences to a single sport the best path to elite status? (b) Do early specializers receive better coaching? (c) Do coaches of early specializers have better sport content knowledge? (d) Do coaches of early specializers have better planning behaviors? (e) Do instructional climates differ between specialized and diversified coaching settings? Second, a research agenda from a pedagogical perspective is proposed for answering the questions posed in the first section, as well as the various assessments and protocols that would allow for these questions to be answered.

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Thomas W. Rowland

Performance in all forms of motor activity related to sport performance improves progressively during the course of the childhood years as a consequence of normal growth and development. Whether (a) sport training can accelerate and ultimately enhance this biological development and (b) the existence of certain ages when training might prove to be more effective in improving performance, particularly early in childhood, remains uncertain. Physiological adaptations to endurance training in prepubertal children (improvements in maximal oxygen uptake) are dampened compared with adults, but enhancements of strength following resistance training are equally effective at all ages. The extent that intensive training regimens characteristic of early sport specialization in children can trigger physiological and performance adaptations may therefore depend on the form of exercise involved. Clearly, additional research is needed to enhance the understanding of the physiological responses to intensive sport training in prepubertal individuals.

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David I. Anderson and Anthony M. Mayo

This paper examines the costs and benefits of early specialization in sport from a skill acquisition perspective. The focus is on whether early specialization in a single sport is the best way to facilitate the acquisition of skill in that sport. The paper is organized relative to the two major conceptual frameworks that have motivated much of the discussion about early specialization in sport: the theory of deliberate practice and the Developmental Model of Sport Participation. Our analysis reveals that while early specialization in sport is one way to reach elite status, it is not the only way. Considerable evidence shows that many elite athletes specialized in their sport late, following diversified experiences with other sports. These findings raise a number of exciting questions about the long-term development of skill in sport.