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Why Children/Youth Drop Out of Sports

Research Brief
Number 46/December 2016
Why Children/Youth Drop Out of Sports?
Tek B. Dangi and Peter A. Witt
“Kids join youth sports programs in droves -- and drop out in droves. (Indiana University, 2016)
It is estimated that over 38 million kids are involved in youth sports each year, and almost 75 percent
of American households with school-age children have at least one child participating in youth
sports (Williams, 2016). However, according to a variety of sport psychologists, youth development
scholars and practitioners, the rate of children dropping out of sports by the time they are 12 or 13,
and often earlier is a major concern (O'Sullivan, 2015; Wallace, 2016). Interestingly, studies of
youth sports participation and dropout rates in other countries show similar trends (Carlman,
Wagnsson, & Patriksson, 2013). The purpose of this brief is to discuss reasons why children drop
out of sports and possible ways to enhance and maintain sports participation.
Reasons Children/Youth Drop Out of Sports
Sports psychologists, youth development scholars, and practitioners (e.g., Carlman, Wagnsson, &
Patriksson, 2013; Gould, 2016; Kelley & Carchia, 2016; O'Sullivan, 2015; Wallace, 2016; Williams,
2016) have presented various reasons why children/youth drop out of sports. Crane & Temple (2015,
pp. 121-22) systematically reviewed factors associated with children and adolescents’ dropping out
of organized sports (the review covering 43 publications from Europe, North America and
Australia). They then used a model of recreation and leisure constraints to organize drop out reasons
under the three headings in the model: Intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural constraints.
Following their lead, several of the reasons for children and youth dropping out of sports are
presented below under the three constraints model headings.
Intrapersonal Constraints: Lack of enjoyment (not having fun, being bored); Low perceptions of
physical competence; Intrinsic Pressures (e.g. stress); and Perceptions of negative team dynamics
(negative feelings towards team or coach) (Crane & Temple, 2015, pp. 121-22).
Not having fun. According to a study by Kelley & Carchia (2016), 38% of girls and 39% of
boys suggest that lack of fun is the biggest reason for dropping out of sports. Dropping out may
be due to factors such as inflexible practice routines, and strict rules and guidelines which take
away the fun part of participating (O'Sullivan, 2015; Williams, 2016).
Anxiety and nervousness due to excessive criticism. Children can experience undue
criticism, and pressure from parents and coaches to perform their best, win every game,
compete so they can earn honors and recognition, and perhaps compete for college
scholarships. In these situations, children may enjoy the game less and suffer anxiety due to the
fear of making mistakes and may feel disrespected in terms of being appreciated for their
abilities, as opposed to the mistakes they make (O'Sullivan, 2015). In turn, this can lead to
feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt--I’m not good enough--which could carry over to other
life situations (Kelley & Carchia, 2016).
Pressure from the coaches or not getting along with coaches. Some coaches have poor
communication skills, autocratic or authoritarian styles of interacting with young athletes, and
are generally unable to relate to young athletes, which may lead athletes to choose to abandon
participation (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin, 2008). Coaches may also pressure athletes to
concentrate on only one sport, which can cause ill-will and create an uncomfortable
atmosphere for the athlete (The Ultimate Sports Parents, 2016; Wallace, 2016).
Interpersonal Constraints: Pressure (family, coach, peers); Other social priorities; Having other
things to do; and Pursuit of an alternative sport (Crane & Temple, 2015, pp. 121-22).
Parental pressures and loss of ownership. Many children are introduced to sports by their
parents, and often only continue participation because of pressure exerted by their parents (The
Ultimate Sports Parents, 2016). In some cases, children are pressured to participate because
their parents are living out their own fantasies through their children, or the parents gain status
or recognition from their children’s participation. Often children feel pressured to succeed
because they do not want to let their parents down or disappoint them (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, &
Deakin, 2008; Wallace, 2016). Excessive parental involvement and guidance can lead children
to feeling a lack of ownership of their own motivations or sport participation experiences
(O'Sullivan, 2015).
Not having enough time to participate in other age appropriate activities. Deep, structured
involvement with one activity may take about time from socializing, hanging out, being with
friends, interacting with members of the opposite sex. This may be especially critical in the
decisions of children once they reach middle school (Carlman, Wagnsson, & Patriksson, 2013).
In a similar manner, excessive pressure to be involved in sports may actually take away time
from studying, getting good grades and keeping up with one’s academics (Kelley & Carchia,
2016). Finally, our current sports model may not support older children’s desire to play just for
the fun of it. Thus, only children who can advance to the elite level of participation will be
encouraged to participate and others will be encouraged to find alternative activities (Miner,
Structural Constraints: Time (for training and travel); Injuries; Cost; and Inadequate facilities
(Crane & Temple, 2015, pp. 121-22).
Sports related injuries: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
between 2001 and 2009 approximately 2.7 million kids under 20 were treated for sports and
recreation injuries (Kelley & Carchia, 2016), including a dramatic increase in head injuries.
Football concussions among 10- to 14-year-olds more than doubled from 2000 to 2010.
According to Williams (2016): “Each year, more than 3.5 million young athletes experience a
sports injury severe enough to warrant medical attention, …and approximately 66 percent of
these injuries are serious enough to require attention in the emergency department” (para. 5).
Some kids recover and return to the sports, but many do not. Kids or parents do not want to
take further risks.
Overuse/Burn out: Intensive, repetitive use of certain body parts for specific sports has been
associated with overuse of muscles or muscle ruptures (Wallace, 2016). O'Sullivan (2015)
noted that many children are asked or pressured through families and coaches to undertake
more and more practicea factor that can lead to burnout and eventual dropout.
Not being given playing time. Some coaching practices and game decisions focus on giving
the best players maximum playing time, with the main focus being on winning. These
decisions, however, may drive some players with lesser abilities off teams or out of sports
entirely (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakins, 2008; O'Sullivan, 2015).
Feeling that participation is too structured and there is not enough time for free play or
just being a kid: When sports revolve around rigorous schedules, other directed involvement,
and strict adherence to rules, children may feel a loss of autonomy and spontaneity. They
may miss the simple pleasures of playing a pickup game in the park with friends without adult
structured pressure and adherence to rules and procedures not endorsed by the children
themselves (Williams, 2016).
Financial constraints: Many sports require a considerable financial investment for on-going
participation. Costs alone may lead children from poor communities to not participate
initially or cease participation if costs cannot be covered (Kelley & Carchia, 2016; Miner,
2016) Year-round training, equipment costs, coaching fees, camps, tournament, and travel
related costs can eat into a family’s budget and be a determining factor in whether some
children can start or continue.
Despite findings such as lack of fun element, sports injury, burn out and other factors causing sports
dropouts, Kelley & Carchia (2016) also thought it as a temporary phenomenon. They found in other
studies that 33 percent of kids had restarted a sport they'd quit, which gives options for re-attracting
kids to sports by minimizing such obstacles or offering multiple sports options. It is also supported
by Carlman, Wagnsson, & Patriksson’s (2013) study that many school athletes who dropped out of
sports will reenter the same or different sports/clubs later on.
Suggestions to Minimize Sports Drop Outs and Increase Youth Engagement
Based on past and current research and practices, various suggestions to minimize sports attrition
have been offered.
Redefine sports goal away from winning towards having fun. Parents and coaches should
redefine success in terms of keeping participation as fun as possible, with attention to enabling
participants to develop lifetime skills as opposed to a win at all costs philosophy (Wallace, 2016).
Further, less emphasis should be placed on sports participation as a means for winning college
scholarships since the number of young participants who will actually earn their way to college
through an athletic scholarship is very low. Emphasis should be put on enabling participants to have
a sense of fun and trying their best, while being treated respectfully by coaches, parents and
teammates, and getting playing time (O’Sullivan, 2015).
Balance parental involvement. Parental support and involvement is crucial for kids’ sports success
in terms of providing leadership, support and investment. However, over-involvement such as
instructing players from the sidelines, arguing with coaches and referees, and criticizing kids for
mistakes has taken away sports’ joys from kids. Children should have the ownership of the game and
the game experience (Samuels, 2016). Parents should be encouraged to offer encouragement to all
players, and encouraged to assess whether their own behavior is contributing to a respectful sports
atmosphere for their children, including being quiet on the ride home, cheering positively, and not
yelling at the referees (O'Sullivan, 2015; Wallace, 2016).
Encourage multiple sport participation. Parents should encourage children to play multiple sports
before the age of 12 and give children a strong voice about the sports they choose to participate in
(Wallace, 2016).
Enable children to have autonomy and ownership over game experiences. Parents should enable
children to make choices about their level of participation, e.g., recreational vs. competitive (The
Ultimate Sports Parents, 2016) and encourage children to have a voice and decision making power
over their use of time and the activities in which they chose to participate (Samuels, 2016). Parents
should also encourage time for children to just be children, by promoting involvement in impromptu
pick-up games or just playing in the park with friends.
Encourage rules that give every child a chance to play. Coaches should provide playing
opportunities for all children and opportunities that can help maximize each child’s on-the-field
potential (O'Sullivan, 2015; Samuels, 2016). For most younger players, no youth trophy is worth
sitting on the bench.
Decrease parental pressure about winning. Emphasis should be placed on developing a child-
friendly atmosphere and achievable expectations, with an emphasis on fundamental skills
development and enjoyment instead of competition or winning. Children’s fear that they have to be
the best, or they have failed, should be replaced by the reality that failure is a necessary part of the
development process (Samuels, 2016).
Parents should avoid living their sports dreams through their children. Many parents play out
their own fantasies about sports through their children’s activities (Indiana University, 2016).
Children become commodities to be managed and promoted, as opposed to promoting the full
development of the child, with respect for the child’s feelings, goals and wishes. As noted by Miner
(2016), “…until we dismantle the parenting culture that emphasizes achievement and success over
healthy, happy kids, we don’t stand a chance of solving [the youth sports problem]” (para. 15).
Sport participation should begin at an appropriate age. Parents should avoid pushing their
children into specializing in a single sport, being on traveling teams, or having their lives dominated
by sports, especially before the age of 12. Parents need to lessen their own fear that their children
will fall behind if they are not part of early sport specialization (Wallace, 2016). Excessive play and
practice should also be avoided to decrease injuries due to overuse, burnout, and long-term physical
consequences (Samuels, 2016).
Côté & Hancock (2016) captured many of these ideas in their Developmental Model of Sport
Participation (DMSP), which emphasizes balancing performance, participation and personal
development in youth sports involvements. Their recommendations are particularly suitable for
children under the age of 13.
Regulate length of season to 3 or 4 months, with a maximum of 6 months.
Limit lengthy travel to organized competitions.
Introduce ‘grass-roots’ sport programs that focus on trying different sports.
Do not implement a selection process of more ‘talented’ children until the specialization
Provide healthy competitive opportunities, but do not overemphasize winning and long-term
outcomes such as championships.
Discourage early specialization in one sport.
Allow children to play all positions in a given sport.
Promote deliberate play within and beyond organized sport.
Design play and practice activities that focus on fun and short-term rewards.
Understand children’s needs and do not ‘over coach.’
The DMSP also proposes three stages of sport development:
sampling (age 6-12 when athletes participate in variety of sports);
specializing (age 1315 with decreasing number of sports);
investment years (age 16+) (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin 2008, p. 646).
Conclusions and Implications
Youth sports participation holds positive potential for enabling the development of children and
youth. However, there has been a growing emphasis among parents, coaches, and youth participants
on commodifying sport as an arena for winning, status, and living out parental and coaches, rather
than players’ dreams. In many situations, parents and coaches need to rethink their motivations and
their goals and become more youth development focused as they pursue sport involvements for
children and youth. For example, Wallace (2016) notes that in some instances, “Kids are telling us
this is not for me. It might be for you, but it's really not meeting our needs" (para. 8). Luckily, there
is a lot of current attention to these issues and many useful suggestions are available for parents and
coaches to follow. Careful guidance and actions from parents and coaches are critical to the
evaluation of benefits and downsides of early sports involvement and ways to decrease instances of
children dropping out, burning out, or suffering injuries.
Carlman, P., Wagnsson, S., & Patriksson, G. (2013). Causes and consequences of dropping out from
organized youth sports. Swedish Journal of Sport Research, 2(1), 26-54.
Côté, J., & Hancock, D. J. (2016). Evidence-based policies for youth sport programs. International
Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 8(1), 51-65
Crane, J., & Temple, V. (2015). A systematic review of dropout from organized sport among
children and youth. European physical education review, 21(1), 114-131.
Fraser-Thomas, J., Côté, J., & Deakin, J. (2008). Understanding dropout and prolonged engagement
in adolescent competitive sport. Psychology of sport and exercise, 9(5), 645-662.
Gould, D. (2016). Why do kids drop out of sports? Positive Challenge Alliance. Retrieved from
Indiana University. (2016). Why kids ditch youth sports. Retrieved from
Kelley, B., & Carchia, C. (2013). "Hey, data -- swing!" ESPN. Retrieved from
Miner, J. W. (2016) Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13. The Washington Post. Retrieved
O'Sullivan, J. (2015) Why Kids Quit Sports. Changing the Game Project. Retrieved from
Samuels, D. (2016). 7 reasons kids quit sports, and what it means for coaches. Football Scoop.
Retrieved from
The Ultimate Sports Parents (2016). Why pressure causes sports kids to drop out. Retrieved from
Wallace, K. (2016). How to make your kid hate sports without really trying. CNN. Retrieved from
Williams, T. (2016). Reasons Why Kids Drop Out of Sports. Our Everyday Life. Retrieved from
If you have a particular topic that you would like the YDI staff to
address or have comments about this research brief email us at See other Sequor YDI research briefs and other
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... Many potential athlete with good score in physical fitness and motor ability facing problem during training and competition due to psychological factor. Some of the unable to manage their anxiety during competition and some of them unable to cope with the training program [4], [5]. Due to that issue world are facing sustainability of the athlete in specific area. ...
... Meanwhile, Monteiro et al. [5] found almost the same factors of dropout, which are: most of the athletes drop out because of conflicts with their trainers, "other things to do", "competence improvement failure", "parents, couples, or trainers' pressure", "lack of enjoyment" and "getting bored". Besides, children or youth athletes also drop out because of not having fun in that specific area of sports, anxiety and nervousness due to excessive criticism, pressure from coaches and not getting along with coaches, parental pressure and loss of ownership, and not having enough time to participate in other ageappropriate activities [4]. Most of the dropout cases among young athletes were due to intrapersonal and interpersonal constraints [9]. ...
... Most of them feel burnedout, bored, not competitive enough and too dependent [6]. Besides, global youth athlete early drop-out is phenomenal due to youth athletes' not having fun in that specific area of sport, being unable to control/manage their anxiety, especially during competition, feeling pressure during training, and not getting along with the coach [4]. In addition, a study done by de Souza et al. [10] found that there are positive correlations between burn-out, competitive level, training volume, years of training, perfectionism, and overtraining. ...
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Prior studies mostly focused on physical factors such as physical fitness, motor abilities, and anthropometry as indicators for talent identification (TID). However, there are two critical issues that have been emerging recently among young athletes, which are burnout and early drop-out. Thus, this study suggests to include another factor as an indicator for TID, which are psychological factors. The aim of this paper was to identify the psychological factors that would be good indicators for the TID programme along with the physical factors. This systematic review uses the PRISMA method to logically summarise the identified psychological and physical factors that would be good indicators for TID. A comprehensive electronic literature search was conducted via Google Scholar and open access journals. 30 literature selections were selected based on a few criteria. This systematic review conclude that a set of physical fitness, anthropometry, motor abilities and several psychological factors such as personality traits, emotional intelligence and grit should be included as TID indicators to select a physically talented athlete that have the psychological ability to endure the development process. A selected athlete might be physically competent but psychologically incompetent. This is the explanation of the importance of psychological factors must be included as indicators for the talent identification process in sports to avoid the current critical issues which are burnout and early drop out among young talented athletes. However, a proper selection of psychological factors must be made to choose a good psychological indicator because an indicator for talent identification must be consistent throughout the time period. A longitudinal research method is required to provide more evidence for this theory.
... Interpersonal limitations include parental pressure and loss of independence, and insufficient time to participate in other age-appropriate activities. And ultimately, structural limitations include time (training and travel), injuries, expenses and inadequate benefits [32]. ...
... Ljubica Bačanac, Nebojša Petrović, and Nenad Manojlović found that the primary reasons for quitting sports are: loss of interest in sports, emergence of other interests, lack of enjoyment, too much time needed, poor pedagogical approach of the coach, lack of success and progress, favouritism by the coach, time needed for school obligations, too difficult training regimes, boring and monotonous training, poor organization and communication, too much emphasis on victory, small amount of minutes played, lack of parental support [42]. Suggestions for minimizing the abandonment of sports and increasing the participation of young people include redefining goals in sports from victory to fun, balancing parental involvement, encouraging participation in multiple sports, providing young people with independence and ownership of the playing experience, appealing to the parents to avoid living their sports dreams through their children [32]. It is not surprising that a lack of fun, as the primary motivator for getting involved in sports, is the main reason why young people stop participating in sports. ...
... Other reasons were that they wanted to do something else and wanted to focus more on school activities. It is interesting that 21% quit sports because they felt they were not as good as the others and 13% stated that costs were an obstacle, pointing out competitiveness, specialization and accessibility [32]. These reasons should be further explored because research indicates a low level of pupil and student participation in sports [7,38]. ...
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Background Lifestyle sport activities (e.g. parkour or skateboarding) are considered attractive and beneficial for a long-term commitment to physical activity (PA) and might be a great opportunity for adolescents who do not feel comfortable in an organized or competitive atmosphere. The purpose of the study was to assess whether participation in lifestyle activities is associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), out-of-school vigorous physical activity (VPA), and sedentary behaviour in adolescents aged 10–15 years, with major demographic variables (sex, age, socioeconomic status) being taken into account. Methods Data from a research project linked to the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey collected in 2017 in the Czech Republic was used. The sample consisted of 679 participants (303 of them girls) and was selected by quota sampling. Chi-square tests were used to assess differences in involvement in lifestyle activities according to sex, grade, and socioeconomic status. Ordinal and linear regression models were used to analyse the associations of participation in lifestyle activities and selected energy balance-related behaviours. Results Participation in lifestyle sport activities was significantly associated with a higher level of physical activity (MVPA and out-of-school VPA) after adjustment for sociodemographic factors, as was participation in organized sport. No significant associations were shown for sedentary behaviour. Conclusions Adolescents participating in lifestyle sport activities report being more physically active and, in case of doing multiple such activities concurrently, also spending less time sitting than their peers not involved in lifestyle sport activities. As such, lifestyle sport activities seem to represent a feasible way of increasing overall PA level in adolescent population.
Sport specialization is becoming increasingly common among youth and adolescent athletes in the United States and many have raised concern about this trend. Although research on sport specialization has grown significantly, numerous pressing questions remain pertaining to short- and long-term effects of specialization on the health and well-being of youth, including the increased risk of overuse injury and burnout. Many current elite athletes did not specialize at an early age. Methodological and study design limitations impact the quality of current literature, and researchers need to prioritize pressing research questions to promote safe and healthy youth sport participation. The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine hosted a Youth Early Sport Specialization Summit in April 2019 with the goal of synthesizing and reviewing current scientific knowledge and developing a research agenda to guide future research in the field based on the identified gaps in knowledge. This statement provides a broad summary of the existing literature, gaps and limitations in current evidence, and identifies key research priorities to help guide researchers conducting research on youth sport specialization. Our goals are to help improve the quality and relevance of research on youth sport specialization and to ultimately assure that opportunities for healthy and safe sport participation continue for all youth.
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Background Previous research has linked adolescents’ participation in organised leisure-time activities (OLTAs) to better health and well-being. It remains unclear whether these associations can be observed consistently across social and socioeconomic strata and countries. Methods The present study used nine nationally representative samples of adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years (total n=55 429) from the 2017/2018 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey from Europe and Canada. Regression models with mixed effects to account for nested nature of data were applied to estimate: (1) the associations of social and socioeconomic factors with OLTA participation; (2) strengths of the associations between breadth and pattern of OLTA participation with health and well-being indicators, after adjustment for the social and socioeconomic factors. Results Rates of OLTA participation varied by age, sex and country of adolescents. Participants from lower socioeconomic classes and non-nuclear families were less likely to participate in OLTAs across each of the nine countries. Moreover, breadth of OLTA participation was associated with higher well-being independent of socioeconomic status or family structure. All of the participation patterns were associated with higher life satisfaction, but sports (either alone or in combination with a non-sport OLTA) were also associated with fewer psychological complaints and excellent self-rated health. Conclusion Adolescents’ engagement in OLTAs was associated with adolescents’ subjective well-being regardless of country, age, sex and variance in social and socioeconomic factors. Policies aimed at increasing adolescents’ subjective well-being and OLTA participation should focus on adolescents from low socioeconomic classes and non-nuclear families.
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The human intestinal microbiome is a collection of all microorganisms inhabiting the length and width of the gastrointestinal tract of mammals. The composition of this microbial community is specific to the individual, develops throughout life and is prone to both exogenous and endogenous modifications. Consumption of fermented foods that contain living microbial organisms known as probiotics are considered to be one of these modifications. The aim of this diploma thesis was to compare the composition of the intestinal microbiota before and after a monthly intervention, which consisting of consumption of sheep cheese - bryndza. The research group consisted of 14 women aged from 30 to 73 years, members of the fitnesscenter FitCurves. The method of multiparallel metagenomic sequencing of the V1 - V3 region of the 16S rDNA gene from stool samples was used to determine intestinal microbioma differences. Selected parts of the microbiota data were compared according to their normality of distribution using parametric paired T- test or Wilcox T-test. As expected, there was a significant percentage increase in Lactococcus and Streptococcus after monthly consumption of bryndza. In the case of the bacterial genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, the differences were not statistically significant. In addition to the mentioned genera, we observed significant differences in the percentage of Roseburia, Butyricimonas, Phascolarctobacterium, Alistipes, Turicibacter, Peptoclostridium, Blautia and others. These results confirm the effect of bryndza consumption on the human intestinal microbiome. Key words: intestinal microbiome, fermented foods, sheep bryndza, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Streptococcus
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The purpose of this study is to examine dropout reasons and various types of dropouts in relation to demographic variables, various types of sports, physical activity, and underlying motivational processes. Retrospective data was collected from three cohorts including 1,176 participants, of which 712 stated that they had sometimes dropped out of organized sport. Findings showed that time-related reasons were the primary causes for dropping out. It was also revealed that athletes with low versus high levels of perceived physical competence dropped out to a higher extent because of experiencing too much pressure, and athletes reporting low versus high social competence withdrew to a higher extent because they did not like their teammates. Results also showed that girls with a foreign background had a higher rate of dropouts compared to boys with the same background. Girls with foreign backgrounds were also found to be less physically active after dropping out from organized sports.
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Leisure constraints theory was used as a framework to systematically review factors associated with dropout of organized sport among children and adolescents. Keyword searches for the population, context and construct of interest (i.e. dropout) identified articles from the entire contents of the following databases: Academic Search Complete, ERIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and SPORTDiscus. The initial search yielded 557 studies, and 43 met the selection criteria. Most studies focused solely on adolescents, and 89% of participants were male. Most studies were cross-sectional using quantitative approaches. Almost 30 different sports were included in the reviewed studies; however, the most represented sports were soccer, swimming, gymnastics and basketball. Findings from this review indicated that intrapersonal and interpersonal constraints are more frequently associated with dropping out of sport than structural constraints. Although many discrete factors associated with dropout were identified, five major areas emerged: lack of enjoyment, perceptions of competence, social pressures, competing priorities and physical factors (maturation and injuries). Rarely were the interrelationships between factors or the underlying dimensions of factors examined. Future research would benefit from mixed-methods and prospective approaches. These approaches would allow children and youth to explain how their experience of sport shaped their motives to dropout and allow researchers to probe the extent to which affordances and motives for participation aligned with athletes’ reasons for dropping out.
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Youth sport involvement can lead to outcomes classified as the 3Ps: performance, participation and personal development. The 3Ps are central to youth sport systems aimed at providing quality experiences to participants. A challenge for countries and national governing bodies is structuring sport to simultaneously facilitate the achievement of excellence and participation or the 3Ps. To illustrate this challenge, consider deliberate practice, which is an important activity for performance improvements, but also considered less enjoyable and less motivating compared to other sport activities, such as play. Thus, governing bodies often face the challenge of deciding which activities they intend to emphasize (e.g., early specialization directed at talent development or early diversification aimed at increasing participation), and this can have implications for the success/failure of the 3Ps. The purpose of this article is to describe an inclusive sport structure for children (under age 13) targeting the development of the 3Ps, which would be an asset to sport scientists, policymakers and practitioners. Common goals for the 3Ps include the following: avoid burnout/dropout, cultivate intrinsic motivation and maximize involvement in various sport activities. Our contention is the 3Ps can coexist under one system when that system is structured according to the age and competitive level of participants. The Developmental Model of Sport Participation and its seven postulates will be used as the basis of this article to provide evidence-based policies for children in sport.
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to gain understanding of training patterns and roles of significant others (i.e. coaches, parents, peers, and siblings) in adolescent swimmers’ sport participation patterns. Design: The developmental model of sport participation [Côté, J., Baker, J., & Abernethy, B. (2003). From play to practice: A developmental framework for the acquisition of expertise in team sport. In J. Starkes, & K. A. Ericsson (Eds.), Recent advances in research on sport expertise (pp. 89–114). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; Côté, J., & Fraser-Thomas, J. (2007). Youth involvement in sport. In P. R. E. Crocker (Ed.), Introduction to sport psychology: A Canadian perspective (pp. 266–294). Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall] was used as a framework.Method: Ten dropout and 10 engaged swimmers, matched on key demographic variables participated in a semi-structured qualitative interview.Results: Groups had many similar experiences (e.g. early training, supportive and unsupportive coaches, involved parents). However, only dropouts spoke of early peak performances, limited one-on-one coaching, pressuring parents during adolescence, lack of swimming peers during adolescence, and sibling rivalries. In contrast, only engaged athletes spoke of clubs’ developmental philosophies, coaches’ and parents’ open communication, school friends’ support, and siblings’ general positive influences.Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of appropriately structured programs and the fragility of athletes’ relationships with significant others during the adolescent years. Implications for sport programmers, coaches, and parents are discussed.
Why kids ditch youth sports Retrieved from httpHey, data --swing!" ESPN. Retrieved from httphidden-demographics-youth-sports-espn- magazine Miner Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https
  • D Gould
  • B Kelley
  • C Carchia
Gould, D. (2016). Why do kids drop out of sports? Positive Challenge Alliance. Retrieved from Indiana University. (2016). Why kids ditch youth sports. Retrieved from Kelley, B., & Carchia, C. (2013). "Hey, data --swing!" ESPN. Retrieved from magazine Miner, J. W. (2016) Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13. The Washington Post. Retrieved from quit-sports-by-age-13/
Reasons Why Kids Drop Out of Sports. Our Everyday Life
  • T Williams
Williams, T. (2016). Reasons Why Kids Drop Out of Sports. Our Everyday Life. Retrieved from If you have a particular topic that you would like the YDI staff to address or have comments about this research brief email us at See other Sequor YDI research briefs and other materials at
Why Kids Quit Sports. Changing the Game Project. Retrieved from
  • O ' Sullivan
O'Sullivan, J. (2015) Why Kids Quit Sports. Changing the Game Project. Retrieved from
7 reasons kids quit sports, and what it means for coaches
  • D Samuels
Samuels, D. (2016). 7 reasons kids quit sports, and what it means for coaches. Football Scoop. Retrieved from
How to make your kid hate sports without really trying
  • K Wallace
Wallace, K. (2016). How to make your kid hate sports without really trying. CNN. Retrieved from
Why do kids drop out of sports? Positive Challenge Alliance
  • D Gould
Gould, D. (2016). Why do kids drop out of sports? Positive Challenge Alliance. Retrieved from Indiana University. (2016). Why kids ditch youth sports. Retrieved from