Young Children in Recreational Sports: Participation Motivation

H. Patrick Stern, Robert H. Bradley, Michael T. Prince, Suzanne E. Stroh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


More than 20 million children between ages 6 and 16 years participate in nonschool sports programs, with increasingly more programs being established for younger-age children. A questionnaire based on previous research with adolescent athletes was developed to determine participation motivation of 6- to 10-year-old children. Three hundred fourteen boys participating in a basketball program were interviewed privately with this instrument. Of the 12 participation motivation items, “learn to do my best,” “learn and improve skills,” have a coach to look up to, and get stronger and healthier were most highly rated, whereas win games and become popular were rated least important. When responses of 6 and 7 year olds were compared with those of 9 and 10 year olds, older children rated feel part of a team, have fun and excitement and be with and make new friends higher at a statistically significant level (p < 0.05). Older children rated win games and become popular lower at a statistically significant level (p < 0.05). The authors conclude that young children in this recreational sports program make significant distinctions in their participation motivation and that some aspects of participation that motivate them change as they grow older.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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