Study highlights pressure in youth sports

April 24, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
A new study examining youth sports takes a close look at the pressure kids face and how it contributes to declining participation.

Yellowbrick in Illinois surveyed 1,000 Americans to get a sense of how the pressure to succeed in youth sports has affected kids. Among the findings were that 70% of children leave organized sports by the time they’re 13 years old. Respondents also said that while parents are a constant source of pressure, they’re also their child’s biggest supporter.

From Yellowbrick:

According to the survey, 38% of children are between the ages of 7-9 when they begin playing youth sports, followed by 29% that start earlier. These are the ages are when social circles broaden through school and more independent activities. The most popular sports—soccer, basketball, baseball, and football—are team-based instead of individually focused so children start to learn how to work with others while learning the rules of the game together.

Within six years, the participation in sports drops—by the time children are 16, only 3% still participate in sports. One obvious reason for this may be because as children mature, their interests start to vary and schedules can no longer accommodate all their interests. Parents and kids then decide where they want to spend their time and energy and sports may not be the top choice for more independent teens. In fact, 70% of children leave organized sports by the time they are 13 years old.

Burn-out is another possible factor in declining participation. If a child is exceptionally talented in a sport, quitting a team to try new interests or simply to take a break may seem like an impossible option to the child. The financial cost of continued practice, the worry of looking like a quitter, and fear of disapproval from parents, coaches, and others add an enormous amount of pressure to a young athlete. 42% of respondents said that coaches pressured a person the most to stay in sports, followed by 27% claiming friends as giving the most pressure.

Yellowbrick’s infographic below highlights some of the survey’s key findings.

One thought on “Study highlights pressure in youth sports”

  1. The data point that’s stand out to me is: “Only 24% of respondents were never disciplined for poor sports performance.” EVERYONE should be disciplined for poor performance in ANY activity, but the focus should be on training, not official competition. My kids train 95% of the time and have official competitions 5%. Kids who prepare have fun and become successful. They most likely “win.” The ones who don’t put an effort into preparing, perform poorly, don’t have fun and lose interest. And the whole notion that pressure is bad is just ridiculous. When one is prepared, they thrive on pressure. They eat it up like chicken wings.
    When my kids have been well prepared they’ve said they wish they were at X venue because there would be more people watching. Pressure is a privilege.

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