Damien Ball


The overall aim of this investigation was to examine the impact/influence of age in sport and early specialisation. Essentially, the objective was to see if there is a link between starting age in sport and the level of representation reached. The sample of subjects consisted of 126 pupils, 82 males and 44 females, aged 14-16 years old. The subjects attended three different grammar schools across Northern Ireland, from both rural and urban backgrounds.

Individual questionnaires were completed by each of the subjects in order to collect information regarding their involvement in sport. The data collection found that subjects participated in a wide variety of sporting activities, ranging in starting ages and level of representation reached. The study revealed that there is no strong evidence or pattern to suggest that early specialisation is directly linked with reaching elite level representation in sport and that late specialisation can also lead subjects to reach elite level representation in their sport.