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Investigating the reasons for dropping out by competitive artistic gymnastics

Swan, Isla; Souglis, Athanasios; Andronikos, Georgios


Isla Swan

Athanasios Souglis


Objective/Background: Taking part in sport can help decrease the risk of children developing obesity and related diseases in an enjoyable way, yet 35% of children dropout from sport each year. In particular, artistic gymnastics struggles with a high dropout rate, with the average age to stop the sport being only 9 years old. The aim of this study was to investigate why competitive artistic gymnasts were leaving the sport and explore ways to keep them engaged. Materials and Methods: Following a mixed methods design, 69 participants completed a reasons of attrition questionnaire (Gould et al., 1982) and 7 took part in semi-structured interviews. Descriptive statistics and inductive thematic analysis were used to analyse the quantitative data and qualitative data respectively. Results: The data gathered from the questionnaire showed that participants dropped out due to other commitments, not reaching the level they wanted, and because of their age. The qualitative data showed that a variety of factors influenced the decision of gymnasts to withdraw from the sport. The key themes identified through the interviews were having other priorities, negative social experiences, poor perceived competence, lack of motivation, feeling too old and poor coaching behaviours. Conclusions: Multiple demands and commitments can be an influential factor particularly for young athletes and as such support plans need to in place to prepare and assist them during that period. The nature of gymnastics as an early specialising sport may lead to drop out at a younger age compared to most sports and therefore strategies that facilitate talent transfer could be in place to provide alternative opportunities for the athletes to remain engaged in sport. Lesson plans ensuring skill progressions and classes specifically designed for young adults would also be beneficial for wider participation. Finally, coaches need to undertake continuous professional development to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills for effective talent development.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2022
Publication Date 2022-01
Deposit Date Feb 9, 2022
Journal Journal of Physical Education and Sport
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 55-66
Keywords Gymnastics; Mixed Methods; Dropout; Sport Participation; Disengagement
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