Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
What makes teenagers continue?: A salutogenic approach to understanding youth participation in Swedish club sports.
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogik, idrott och fritidskultur.
2014 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786, Vol. 19, no 3, 239-252 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: International studies have revealed that young people engage in sports because of friends, the enjoyment of participation, and the ability to feel healthy. Furthermore, it is often argued that sports should be characterized as joyful and provide both recreational and elite investment. In Sweden, many children participate in club sports during their childhood or youth, but many drop out in their late teens. Furthermore, few children take up a sport after 12 years of age. Rather than concentrating on those who drop out of club sports, the focus of this article is on those who continue during their teenage years despite being non-elite participants. Purpose: By illuminating the experiences of non-elite participants, the overall aim is to study what makes teenagers continue to participate in club sports with a specific focus on what teenagers find meaningful and important when they participate in club sports. This is done with the help of Antonovsky's salutogenic theory and his sense of coherence (SOC) model. The discussion will focus on how club sports can be organized to encourage more teenagers to participate longer. Research design and data collection: In this study, a total of 18 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted. The teenagers were between 15 and 19 years old, and they participated in eight different club sports (athletics, basketball, equestrian sports, floorball, football, handball, swimming, and ultimate frisbee). The selection of sports and clubs was done using the Swedish Sports Confederation's (RF) database. A targeted sample selection was carried out by contacting club trainers, who provided the names of teenagers suitable with respect to the research aim and questions. The interviews were systematically coded and analysed using the SOC components as analytical tools. Key findings: When analysing the results, three themes emerged. The teenagers found sports fun in terms of meaningfulness because they experienced learning and development; they found competition challenging; and they enjoyed the involvement and engagement with others. Furthermore, the young people who remained in club sports were participating in more than one competitive elite sport even if they themselves did not have elite ambitions. Conclusions: If the goal of society in general and sports clubs in particular is to get as many people as possible to be physically active and develop a lifelong interest in sports, it is conceivable that club sports should offer activities that attract people with different levels of ambition and abilities. If the findings correspond with young people's willingness to learn and develop together with others, it is conceivable that club sports as well as physical education should be organized to give all young people opportunities to learn physical activities with numerous opportunities for motor and social learning in focus.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 19, no 3, 239-252 p.
Keyword [en]
sports participation, teenagers, research, Clinical health psychology, Meaninglessness (Philosophy), Sense of coherence, Sweden, club sports, meaningfulness, participation, salutogenic, teenagers
National Category
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3438DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2012.754003OAI: diva2:747812
Available from: 2014-09-17 Created: 2014-09-17 Last updated: 2015-01-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Vilka stannar kvar och varför?: En studie om ungas föreningsidrottande under uppväxtåren
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vilka stannar kvar och varför?: En studie om ungas föreningsidrottande under uppväxtåren
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Who participate and why? : Youth participation in Swedish club sports
Abstract [en]

The main aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge of what characterizes club sport participation during childhood and youth, and what distinguishes young participators who continue club sport in their late teens and to understand why they continue.

An important premise for this thesis is that sport is one of the most widespread leisure activities among youth. Many young people in Sweden stop participating in club sport during their teens, but some continue. Rather than concentrating on those who drop out of club sports the focus of this thesis is on the ones who continue with club sports during teenager years. Aaron Antonovsky’s salutogenic theory and sense of coherence model (SOC) has inspired the analysis of what it is that seems to be comprehensible, manageable and meaningful when participating in club sport. Furthermore, Pierre Bourdieu's key concept habitus and capital have been used as research tools when analyzing the relationship between sports participation and social position among teenagers.

This thesis is based on four studies and, empirically, it is partly longitudinal where the same 585 pupils born 1991 have answered a questionnaire at 10, 13, 16 and 19 years of age. The study is also based on 18 in-depth interviews with teenagers 15 to 19 years of age.

The results of this thesis show that club sports are successful in getting large numbers of children to attend and participate, but there seem to be many who just participate for a short time and only about one third stay on in their late teens. Very few start after the age of 13. Teenagers who are active participants appear to have started early, have taken part in different sports and do not mind taking part in competitions. Furthermore, they seem to possess specific dispositions (and certain assets) in terms of a habitus with a taste for sport and a specific cultural capital in terms of academic success. Moreover, it looks as if doing club sport is a social space where the teenagers can experience meaningfulness based on learning, developing physical ability, experiencing a feeling of belonging, and being challenged but few had elite ambitions.

The conclusion is that sports clubs should try to organize activities emphasizing development with numerous opportunities and challenges for motor and social learning with less focus on competitions as the only focal point. By asking questions about and taking into account what teens need to understand, cope with, and what they perceive as meaningful in sports, it is possible that more young people want to participate longer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH, 2015
Avhandlingsserie för Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, 03
National Category
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3631 (URN)978-91-980862-2-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-02-06, Aulan, Lidingövägen 1, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Forskningslinjen Fritid
Available from: 2015-01-08 Created: 2015-01-02 Last updated: 2016-09-19Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(120 kB)260 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 120 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Thedin Jakobsson, Britta
By organisation
Forskningsgruppen för pedagogik, idrott och fritidskultur
In the same journal
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 260 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 419 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link