Longitudinal Trends in Sport Participation and Retention of Women and Girls

Rochelle Eime, Jack Harvey, Melanie Charity, Hans Westerbeek
2020 Frontiers in Sports and Active Living  
Measurement and analysis of sport participation data is vital to understand trends, and therefore to make informed decisions relating to sport policy and strategies to get more people active through sport. This study identified patterns of club sport participation, retention and drop-out of women and girls over a 7 year period in a popular team sport in Australia. The study included registered women and girls of all ages (4-96 years at baseline) in an almost exclusively female sport, with a
more » ... icular focus on the ages 4-14 years where most participation occurs. All commencing participants in the base year (2010) were tracked over the 7 year period. Participants were classified in two ways: the total number of years they played and their overall pattern of participation. Differences between age groups were analyzed using Kruskall Wallis and Mann Whitney tests. Registration records of 29,225 participants were analyzed in the study. Overall, there were considerable differences in the years participating in the sport. Almost one third (30%) of commencing 4-9 year olds played continuously for the 7 years. This proportion diminished through ages at commencement from 10 to 19, reaching a low point of 4% for ages 15-19, then rebounded slightly, reaching 7% for ages 30+. The proportion who dropped out during the 7 year period and did not return varied with age in the converse manner, as did the proportion of single-year players. The optimal age of entry to sport for retention in participation was 6-9 years. Consideration needs to be given to the age appropriateness of sports programs for very young participants. Strategies specifically relating to retention of girls and young women during adolescence should be developed.
doi:10.3389/fspor.2020.00039 pmid:33345031 pmcid:PMC7739630 fatcat:jg6xb75ryfa4djoaj7jz63qi6i