Enjoyment and Behavioral Intention Predict Organized Youth Sport Participation and Dropout

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Dropout from organized youth sport has significant adverse health implications. Enjoyment and behavioral intentions have consistently been linked with participation and dropout; however, few studies have investigated these links using a prospective design. This study explored whether enjoyment and intentions to continue predicted dropout behavior at 1-year follow-up. Methods: Questionnaires were completed by 327 regular sport participants (mean age = 13.01 y at baseline). After 1 year, 247 individuals (75.5%) continued participating in their main sport and 26 individuals (8%) dropped out. A hierarchical logistic regression model estimated the probability of dropout. In step 1, the following covariates were included: age, sex, competition level, perceived competence, parental support, coach–athlete relationship, friendship quality, and peer acceptance. In step 2, enjoyment and intentions to continue were included. Results: Step 1 indicated that age, parental support, coach–athlete relationship quality, and peer acceptance were significantly associated with dropout. Step 2 explained further variance in dropout, with both enjoyment and intentions inversely associated with dropout. Peer acceptance was the only covariate to remain significantly associated with dropout in step 2. Conclusions: Findings support the use of enjoyment and behavioral intentions as indicators of sport participation/dropout behavior and may aid the development of interventions aimed at preventing future dropout.

Gardner is with the School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. Magee is with the South Western and Southern Sydney Campuses, University of Wollongong, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia. Vella is with the Faculty of Social Sciences, Early Start Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Gardner (lag994@uowmail.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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