Objective: Models of sport development often support the assumption that young athletes’ psychosocial experiences differ as a result of seemingly minor variations in how their sport activities are designed (eg, participating in team or individual sport; sampling many sports or specialising at an early age). This review was conducted to systematically search sport literature and explore how the design of sport activities relates to psychosocial outcomes.
Design: Systematic search, followed by data extraction and synthesis. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were applied and a coding sheet was used to extract article information and code for risk of bias.
Data sources: Academic databases and manual search of peer-reviewed journals.
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Search criteria determined eligibility primarily based on the sample (eg, ages 7 through 17-years) and study design (eg, measured psychosocial constructs).
Results: 35 studies were located and were classified within three categories: (1) sport types, (2) sport settings, and (3) individual patterns of sport involvement. These studies represented a wide range of scores when assessed for risk of bias and involved an array of psychosocial constructs, with the most prevalent investigations predicting outcomes such as youth development, self-esteem and depression by comparing (1) team or individual sport participants and (2) youth with varying amounts of sport involvement.
Summary/conclusion: As variations in sport activities impact youth sport experiences, it is vital for researchers to carefully describe and study these factors, while practitioners may use the current findings when designing youth sport programmes.
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