Date of Award

8-9-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Physical Education

First Advisor

Karen French

Abstract

Early specialization (Ericsson, et al., 1993) and early diversification (Cote, 1999) are two highly debated approaches to the development of elite sport performance. More research is needed to determine the types of practice that aid in the development of elite sport performance. Further, studies describing the practice and competition histories of high school baseball players are needed to determine the role of early specialization and non-specialization in the development of baseball players between the ages of 14 and 18. Two studies were conducted. The purpose of the first study was to determine whether predictions from early specialization (deliberate practice, Ericsson, et al., 1993) or the early diversification (sampling a variety of sports, Cote, 1999) more accurately described the practice history of high school baseball players. Retrospective interviews (Cote, Ericsson & Law, 2005) were used to collect information related to participants’ developmental histories. Participants (n=51) began at an early age (5) and were playing year round for multiple baseball teams by age 10. In addition, total accumulated hours of practice for these high school players were similar to the hours for a different sample of high school players (Cathey, 2010). After 10 years involvement (between the ages of 5 and 14), players had accumulated an average of 3,200 practice hours. Similar patterns of practice and early engagement maybe necessary to become a successful high school baseball player. Results supported a trend toward early specialization and accumulation of deliberate practice (Ericsson, et al., 1993).

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