Youth Insight. The challenge of growing youth participation in sport. Sport England (2014)

Many projects have aimed to increase the number of young people playing sport; a high proportion of young people regularly take part in sport, but the rate of participation has historically been fairly flat. What works and what research is there about how to motivate and influence this important age group?

A 2014 Sport England review into young people's lives found sport needs to adapt how it presents itself to broaden its reach and increase the proportion of young people regularly participating:

  • Young people’s behaviours do not always reflect their attitudes to sport – we need to focus more on changing behaviours and less of changing attitudes
  • Many young people take part in sport/activity for more functional or lifestyle reasons – keep engaging them and providing feedback on what actually matters to them not what matters to sport
  • Sport can provoke strong emotional responses. Whilst the activity can be sport, the message that sells it doesn’t have to be. Levelling the playing field can also help overcome the emotional baggage of sport
  • Sport often has to compete or connect with wider interests or priorities. Young people respond well to meaningful experiences; those which benefit them as an individual, reinforce their place in their social group or help them develop 
  • The supply of sport tends to reach those already engaged. Young people, particularly those in their late teens/early 20s, need to feel the community sport offer is specific enough to their needs and fits with their lives

If you're trying to increase your engagement with young people then download and read the full Insight Pack

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