Sport-Specific Practice and the Development of Expert Decision-Making in Team Ball Sports

Review by: William A. Harper
By Joseph Baker, Jean Cote, and Bruce Abernathy

The Big Idea

When asked about his early years, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, said: “I played everything.  I played lacrosse, baseball, hockey, soccer, track and field.  I was a big believer that you played hockey in the winter and when the season was over you hung up your skates and you played something else.”

This paper is one of the early research warning signs that Gretzky may have been right about the value of playing multiple sports when young.  Whatever it was that Gretzky learned early on certainly didn’t compromise his hockey play; it even may have been in part responsible for it.  According to the results of this research study, we need to re-think the popular practice of early specialisation in youth sports.