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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW Study Looks at What Makes Youth Sports Fun

A new study led by Dr. Amanda Visek, associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, looked at what makes organized sports fun for kids.

DC Soccer Kids_John Gardiner

[Photo credit: John Gardiner/DC Stoddert Soccer, Inc.]

Dr. Visek and her research team used a method called concept mapping to map fun in youth sport. They asked 142 soccer players, 37 coaches and 57 parents to identify all of the things that make playing sports fun for kids. When all of their ideas were pooled and synthesized, 81 specific determinants of fun were identified, each of which fell into one of 11 big fun factors. Among the big fun factors, being a good sport, trying hard, and positive coaching were most important when it comes to having fun, while winning and other mental bonuses ranked near the bottom.

The results of this study might help researchers develop proven ways to keep kids involved in organized sports, research shows which can help prevent obesity, reduce depression and anxiety, and can lead to better performance in the classroom. We lose as many as 70 percent of kids who drop out of organized sports by the age of 14, Dr. Visek says. “The longer we can keep them participating in sport, the greater likelihood we have of helping them establish a habit of regular physical activity for the rest of their lives.”

Read more about the study.