Correlates of youth sport attrition: A review and future directions

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Objectives:This review aims to (a) identify correlates of youth sport attrition, (b) frame correlates within a multilevel model of youth sport participation (i.e., biological, intra-personal, inter-personal, institutional, community, and policy levels), and (c) assess the level of evidence for each correlate.Design:Review paper.Methods:Systematic review method.Results:Entering relevant search terms into PubMed, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus and Web of Knowledge databases identified 23 articles with a total of 8345 participants. Satisfactory articles largely examined sport-specific attrition and sampled youth from western countries (e.g., Canada, France, Spain, United States). Of the 141 correlates examined, most were framed at the intrapersonal (90) and inter-personal levels (43). The level of evidence for each correlate (i.e., high, low, insufficient) was systematically assessed based on the quantity and quality of supporting articles. In total, 11 correlates were categorized as having a high quality level of evidence and 10 as having a low quality. High quality correlates included, among others, age, autonomy, perceived competence, relatedness, and task climate.Conclusions:Overall, established correlates of youth sport attrition are largely social in nature. Future directions surrounding (a) the need to examine correlates at lower (i.e., biological level) and higher (i.e., institutional, community, policy) analytic levels, (b) to sample participants from more culturally diverse societies and (c) to examine sport-general attrition are offered.Highlights:The study of youth sport attrition is fragmented.Basic Needs Theory is the most supported theory of youth sport attrition.Researchers have primarily relied on youth from western countries.Biological and contextual variables are under explored.The study of youth sport attrition needs more methodological diversity.

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