Factors affecting sports involvement in a school-based youth cohort: Implications for long-term athletic development

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sports Sciences, 2019, 37 (22), pp. 2522 - 2529
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The aim of the present study was to determine the factors affecting sports involvement in a school-based adolescent population. The cross-sectional cohort study assessed anthropometry, physical capacities and motor competence in 501 boys (aged 10–16 y), from junior (10–12 y) and senior (13–16 y) cohorts. Sports participation data was collected from junior participants. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed moderate maturity, anthropometry, physical capacity and motor competence differences between sports in the senior cohort (F = 2.616, p < 0.001, η2 = .08), but not in the junior cohort. Furthermore, differences in physical fitness were revealed between playing levels (F = 2.616, p < 0.001, η2 = .08), with a discriminant analysis correctly classifying 73% of participants using aerobic fitness and vertical jump measures. Representative level participants engaged in more structured training and commenced organised competition at a later age (F = 4.332, p < 0.001, η2 = .21). This study’s findings are twofold: 1) physical and motor competence profiles differ more between sports with increasing age, and 2) participants at a higher level of competition report delayed engagement in their main sport. As a result, schools may be the ideal environment in which to provide children and adolescents with the opportunity to sample different sports.
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