Graduate Program

Kinesiology and Sports Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Thesis Director

Lee Ann Price

Thesis Committee Member

James R. Barkley

Thesis Committee Member

Kristin E. Brown


This study seeks to understand the experience and perception of current, NCAA DI athletes with regard to sport specialization. By learning more about their level of specialization prior to their life as an NCAA DI athlete, as well as their perception on the importance of specialization, this study seeks to contribute to the growing body of literature in sport specialization. Specifically, this study will help inform aspiring athletes, coaches and parents about the role and perceptions of sport specialization in today's elite level athlete. Using paper surveys, the perceptions of 138 current 2019-2020 season NCAA DI athletes at a mid-major university in the Midwest was gathered to answer two questions: What are the perceptions of NCAA collegiate athletes regarding specialization and what training methods do they believe are most important to reach their level of success? After analyzing data through Excel, it was found that specialization was not perceived as necessary before high school to reach the NCAA collegiate level, but that some degree of specialization will be necessary during high school. Upon evaluation of the data, an unanticipated discovery was made that athletes from smaller community sizes will rely more on utilizing school teams compared to other training methods. The training method found to be most important consistently between all groups was practicing independently. This study should continue to be replicated with larger sample sizes in other regions for greater comparisons.