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Specialising or sampling – careers pathways in Swedish elite sports
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sport Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1976-409X
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sport Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6198-2843
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sport Science.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sport Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3970-9792
2015 (English)In: 20th annual Congress of the European college of sport science 24th - 27th June 2015, Malmö – Sweden: Book of abstracts / [ed] Radman, Aage; Hedenborg, Susanna; Tsolakidis, Elias, European College of Sport Science , 2015, 237- p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction The sport talent discourse is dominated by the controversy regarding early specialization or sporting diversification and sampling (Cote & Fraser-Thomas, 2007 and Bridge & Toms, 2012). The main purpose of the project was to study Swedish top athletes and describe the pathways to national top level in sports and the athletes’ perception of this process. More specifically the project studied socio-economic background, families sporting background, sports debut age, age of specialisation and investing in sports.

Method Questionnaires were distributed to 349 national team athletes from 39 different sport federations. 328 athletes, 195 females and 133males, returned the questionnaires, an answering rate of 93,8%. The average age was 25 years. 62% were involved in individual sports.They were all nations team athletes and 69% of them had received special elite support as potential medal winners at World Cups and Olympic games.

Results The study showed the strong family influence on the sport activities. The national team athletes typically came from sport families, their parents had own sport experiences often from a high level within the same sport as the children. The parents often were engaged as coaches, committee delegates, board members etc. The study identified several different paths to the nationalteam. The career steps from early involvement to top level performances are varying and individual. Beside the two dominating paths the results showed different nuances and individual pathways including early sport choice but with early or late specialization as well as latersport choice with or without sampling periods. These results are corresponding with other recent studies (see for example Storm et al 2012).

Discussion The findings in this study indicate that the talent programs and talent identification systems have to be more flexible to match the different individual pathways to elite level. The standardized talent programs and the traditional talent “stairways” are discussed since they run the risk of missing talents who don’t seem to fit expected sport activity patterns.

References Bridge, M. W. & Toms,M.R, The specialising or sampling debate: a retrospective analysis of adolescent sports participation in the UK, Journal of Sports Sciences,2012; 1–10 Côte, J. & Fraser-Thomas, J. Youth involvement in sport. In P. Crocker (Ed.), Introduction to sport psychology: A Canadian perspective(pp. 266–294). Toronto, ON: Pearson Prentice Hall. Storm, L. K., Henriksen, C. & Krogh-Christensen, M. Specialization pathwaysamong elite Danish athletes: A look at the developmental model of sport participation from a cultural perspective. International Journal ofSport Psychology, 2012, 43, 199-222

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European College of Sport Science , 2015. 237- p.
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Sport Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-48291ISBN: 978-91-7104-567-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-48291DiVA: diva2:881553
Conference
European College of Sport Science conference, Malmö, 24-27 June, 2015.
Available from: 2015-12-10 Created: 2015-12-10 Last updated: 2016-08-19Bibliographically approved

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Fahlström, Per GöranGerrevall, PerGlemne, MatsLinnér, Susanne
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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