Why Children/Youth Drop Out of Sports


  • Peter A. Witt Texas A&M University
  • Tek B. Dangi




Dropouts, youth sports, youth sport coaching


Forty percent of kids played team sports on a regular basis in 2013. Yet, numerous children and youth drop out of sports every year as well. This article explores the reasons why children and youth drop out of sports and offers suggestions for how parents, coaches, and youth development professionals can help to minimize unwarranted and premature dropping out. Three sets of reasons or constraints have been offered for why children and youth drop out of sports. Intrapersonal constraints include lack of enjoyment (not having fun, being bored); low perceptions of physical competence; intrinsic pressures (e.g., stress); and perceptions of negative team dynamics (negative feelings toward team or coach). Interpersonal constraints include parental pressure and loss of feelings of ownership and not having enough time to participate in other age-appropriate activities. Finally, structural constraints include time (for training and travel), injuries, cost, and inadequate facilities. Suggestions for minimizing dropping out of sports and increasing youth engagement include redefining sports goals away from winning toward having fun, balancing parental involvement, encouraging multiple sport participation, enabling children to have autonomy and ownership over game experiences, encouraging rules that give every child a chance to play, decreasing parental pressure about winning, urging parents to avoid living their sports dreams through their children, and beginning sport participation at an appropriate age.Subscribe to JPRA

Author Biography

Peter A. Witt, Texas A&M University

Emeritus PofessorDepartment of Recreation, Park and Tourism SciencesTexas A&M University