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David I. Anderson and Alicia Rodriguez

Longitudinal records were examined for 272 children who started formal swimming lessons at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 years of age. The groups of children were compared on the number of lessons and number of months required to reach three levels of swimming proficiency and the ages at which these levels were reached. Significant differences were found in the ages at which each proficiency level was attained. The younger the age at which children started lessons, the younger they were when they attained Level 1 proficiency. In contrast, the ages at which Level 2 and Level 3 proficiency were attained were more similar, particularly for the younger starters. Significant differences were found for the number of lessons and number of months required to reach Level 1 proficiency and to progress from Level 1 to Level 2 proficiency. The younger the starting age the more lessons and months required to reach each proficiency level. The pattern of findings suggests that the optimum age to begin formal swimming lessons is between 5 and 7 years of age. The findings are discussed relative to the literature on readiness and sensitive periods for learning.

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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.

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Johanna Belz, Jens Kleinert, Jeannine Ohlert, Thea Rau and Marc Allroggen

.L. , & Teicher , M.H. ( 2008 ). Stress, sensitive periods and maturational events in adolescent depression . Trends in Neurosciences, 31 ( 4 ), 183 – 191 . PubMed doi:10.1016/j.tins.2008.01.004 10.1016/j.tins.2008.01.004 Angst , J. , Gamma , A. , Gastpar , M. , Lepine , J.P. , Mendlewicz , J

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David I. Anderson

relevant issues include early specialization versus early diversification in sport ( Anderson & Mayo, 2015 ; Baker, Cobley, & Fraser-Thomas, 2009 ; Côté, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009 ) and whether critical or sensitive periods exist for the learning of skills (e.g., Anderson, Magill, & Thouvarecq, 2012