Keynote 6 | How serious is ‘dropout’ from sport and physical activity for children and young people?

Title of the Keynote Presentation:

How serious is ‘dropout’ from sport and physical activity for children and young people?  What we know and what we have yet to learn.


Professor Catherine B. Woods 

Chair in Physical Activity and Health

Health Research Institute

Physical Activity for Health Research Cluster

Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences

Faculty of Education and Health Sciences

University of Limerick

Outline of the Keynote Presentation:

Introduction:  Trends in physical activity (PA) show a clear decline with increasing age in adolescence.  A decline of, on average, 5.9% per year of follow-up (adjusted for baseline age) has been reported. Adolescence forms a highly volatile stage in life where transitional periods can influence behavior.  It has been highlighted as a critical time for PA participation where habits developed may persist into adulthood.

Application:One particular mode of PA, sports participation (SP), ought to be investigated in more detail. In adolescence, SP is positively correlated with overall PA levels. Moreover, SP in childhood and adolescence has been found to be a significant predictor of participation in young adulthood. Yet, current evidence on the contribution of variety, frequency  and level of achievement of SP in youth to predicting future PA is unclear. It is crucial to understand trends in PA across influential stages of the life course, such as adolescence, and as SP tends to decline in adolescent years, longitudinal research is needed to understand the impact of sport participation and dropout over time. Results from the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA) Plus study, which tracked a large cohort of youth through the transitional stages of adolescence 5 years after initial contact will be presented during this keynote.

Implications:The patterns of engagement (participation, dropout and transition) and the predictors (baseline values for the frequency of participation in club sport, total number of sports engaged in, type of sport, and the highest standard achieved) of PA (follow-up) will be discussed. The implications for teaching, coaching, practice and policy will be also be reviewed.

On the web:

Harrington, D.M., Murphy, M., Carlin, A., Coppinger, T., Donnelly, A., Dowd, K., Keating, T., Murphy, N., Murtagh, E., O’Brien, W., Woods, C. and Belton, S., (2016)  Results From Ireland North and South’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2016, 13 (Suppl 2), S183 -S188

Hardie Murphy, M.Rowe, D.A. and Woods, C.B. (2016)Sports participation in youth as a predictor of physical activity: A 5-year longitudinal study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health.  DOI:

Adrian Byrne