To ensure sport is attractive to young people, clubs and organisations must fully understand why young people participate in, and drop out of sport.
This resource provides some simple guidelines for making sport more youth-friendly, as well as showcasing initiatives that have successfully addressed youth participation.
In 2013 the Australian Sports Commission released a report “Children: Market Segmentation for Sport Participation”.
The market segmentation study provided key insights outlining how the sport sector can influence motivations and behaviours that children have towards sport and physical activity.
- Providing sport delivery that focuses on fun and enjoyment rather than competition;
- Providing products and services that are inclusive, promote equal treatment, and focus on fun and participation regardless of skill level and ability;
- Providing a variety of pricing packages and different types of membership that allow for flexibility of attendance and time commitment; and
- Identifying the potential for growth opportunities with regards to sport club membership by understanding the needs of different segments and the products they may be attracted to.
Some key comments made in the study highlight the importance that sport plays in the lives of children and the challenges faced by clubs:
- “Across all the children’s segments, the underlying motivation for participating in sport is to have fun and socialise. Providing some sport delivery that focuses on fun and enjoyment rather than competition is important.”
- “How people engage with sport changes over time. For children, the research found that the incidence of competitive sport increases with age.”
- While competitive sport increases with age, so does other non-sport activities which reflect higher levels of independence and expanding lifestyles as children get older. Among older children aged 11-13 years old, sport also competes with activities such as socialising with friends, going to the movies, or surfing the net, as well as increasing homework. These activities all indicate higher commitment as children reach their pre-high school years.”
- “Clubs face a particular challenge in the post-school years. The qualitative research found that there was a large pool of club members in the school ages with attrition over time as people get older. The most significant drop out occurs in the post-school years and was confirmed in the quantitative research where club membership was:
- Highest among school aged children:
- 52% for children aged 5-13
- 44% for 14-17 year olds
- Dwindled after leaving school:
- 22% for 18-29 year olds
- between 13-17% for those aged 30-65.
However, there was a strong indication from the research that the perceived focus of clubs’ on fostering and resourcing the more talented athletes, along with a perceived emphasis on performance exacerbated the funneling effect. There is evidence of this occurring even among children in their early teens (11-13 years old).
Interest in sport activities by age groups
||5-7 year old
|8-10 year olds
|11-13 year olds
| Interest in sport activities (overall)
| Competitive sport
| Recreational sport