Pushing kids too early into sport may backfire

Published: Comments:
Children Health & Wellness Lifestyle Science & Research Sport and Fitness University & TAFE Water Sports and Marine Activities

This is an archived copy of an article. It is online for informational purposes only.

Pushing kids too early into sport can backfire, with new research showing children who start at age four or five are more likely to drop out of that sport or stop doing sport altogether.

Victoria-wide sport participation data funded by VicHealth and Sport and Recreation Victoria, suggests parents are better off waiting for children to turn at least six before enrolling them in sport programs to increase the chance they'll continue.  

"Very young children should be having fun and developing basic motor skills playing unorganised sport," said Victoria University and Federation University Associate Professor Rochelle Eime.

Her study of nearly 14,000 participation records of girls aged four to 10 in one sport over four years showed the strongest predictor that a child would transition into junior club competition was the age at which they started.

Around 60% of those starting aged four or five dropped out within four years. The optimum entry age for continued participation in the sport was ages seven to nine, with only 30% drop-out rate.

"Very young children are more likely to become bored before they are really developmentally ready for club competition around age eight, and then they'll either try another sport, or drop out of sport altogether," she said.

Dr Eime said the reasons for children starting sport too early could be linked to the increase in modified programs for the very young, as sport clubs and peak sporting bodies attempt to boost player numbers to offset the massive drop-off of teenaged players that occurs later across all sports.

Pushy parents can also be a factor since many assume the earlier a child starts a sport, the more quickly they'll develop skills and gain an edge over their peers.

"This study suggests that targeting the very young is not the optimum recruitment strategy for continued participation in a sport. Sporting organisations that want to retain kids into their competitive competitions should focus on recruiting them later," she said.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said with childhood obesity increasing, it was important that kids have an opportunity to get active in a way that's fun and interesting for them.

While Dr Eime's study looked only at female participants in a predominantly female sport, the data could be generalised for boys and other sports.

The study was recently published in BMC Public Health. The research data is part of the Sport and Recreation Spatial, the largest repository of sport participation data in Australia. It is aimed at improving government decision-making about strategies and funding for sport, and offering sporting associations meaningful information about sport participation trends.

Privately Submitted Article or Event :
See Above Article or Event for Address, Sunshine Coast Wide
Privately Submitted Article or Event
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Queensland Alliance Mental Health Welcomes Funding Announcement 22 March 2019 | This means that people experiencing mental illness will now have some level of certainly that their supports will continue for the next 12 months while supporting their transition to the NDIS. More information...
Labor Franking Credit policy severely disadvantages self-funded retirees 14 February 2019 | 'The Labor Party policy to cease Franking Credit refunds severely disadvantages retirees who miss out on qualifying for a part age pension" said Association of Independent Retirees Acting President, Wayne Stran... More information...
Sunshine Coast residents missing out on more than $196m in unclaimed super 01 February 2019 | LGIAsuper, one of Australia’s leading super funds, has found that residents of the Sunshine Coast and Noosa are missing out on more than $196m in lost or unclaimed superannuation. More information...
The Senate gets it, the world gets it, so let's get Australia on board the great electric vehicle shift 30 January 2019 | The newly-released recommendations of the Senate’s Select Committee on Electric Vehicles should be implemented as a matter of urgency, according to the Electric Vehicle Council, so Australia can finally start... More information...
Aussie attitudes towards Australia Day complex, despite majority support for current date 25 January 2019 | A new survey via the Social Research Centre’s Life in Australia™ research panel reveals that despite a clear majority of Australians wanting Australia Day to remain on 26 January, attitudes towards the public... More information...
Friends With Dignity To Support DV Children with Scholarship Program 21 January 2019 | Australian Charity of the Year 2018, Friends With Dignity, will soon launch the fourth round of its Little Friends Scholarship program. More information...
30 Regional teachers receive fully-funded mentorship with Bell Shakespeare 17 December 2018 | Bell Shakespeare is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2019 Regional Teacher Mentorship, giving 30 teachers from regional, rural and remote Australian schools a fully-funded, year-long mentorship with the... More information...
Teachers invited to apply for mentorship with Bell Shakespeare 25 October 2018 | Teachers from regional, rural and remote Australian schools are invited to apply for a fully-funded year-long mentorship with Australia's national theatre company, Bell Shakespeare. More information...
Business For Sale advertisement 18 May 2011 | Yes, business was sold using your website. Thank you for providing a good local service. More information...
MSC rankings 31 January 2011 | I know I need to spend a bit more time on this (rankings are brilliant for me, always at #2, better than my own site, and anything else). More information...

comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service