Posted: Wed, 27 Mar 2019 09:00

Children's attitudes to sport and physical activity

Enjoyment is the single biggest factor in motivating children to be active, new analysis from our Active Lives Children and Young People Survey has revealed.

More than 130,000 children and young people were surveyed in the academic year 2017/18, with participation figures published in December.

The report measures children's physical literacy. This is a combination of a person's enjoyment, confidence, competence (how easy they find it), understanding (that it is beneficial) and knowledge (knowing how to get involved and improve).

Key findings

This new analysis has identified five key findings that give us further insight into the attitudes of children and young people towards sport and physical activity.

1. Physically literate children do twice as much activity. The more of the five elements of physical literacy children have, the more active they are.

2. Enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels. Despite the majority of children (68%) understanding that sport and activity is good for them, understanding had the least impact on activity levels.

3. Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult).

4. Physical literacy decreases with age. As children grow older, they report lower levels of enjoyment, confidence, competence, and understanding. Previous research from Sport England shows that activity levels drop when children reach their teenage years.

5. The results also reveal important inequalities among certain groups of children which must be tackled, with girls less likely to say they enjoy or feel confident about doing sport and physical activity. Children from the least affluent families are also less likely to enjoy activity than those from the most affluent, while black children are more physically literate than other ethnic groups.

Making sport fun

Our Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, is calling for everyone involved in a child's activity level to ensure that enjoyment is at the heart of anything they do.

"This is a critical moment for all of society to better understand what will motivate young people to get active," he said.

"This survey gives us the richest evidence yet that sport and physical activity for children needs to be fun and enjoyable above all.

"We hope these results will be considered and acted on by all who deliver activity and sport. We look forward to playing our part to get children active as we roll out our national programme to train over 17,000 secondary school teachers in how to offer a greater breadth of PE and school sport that meets the needs of all pupils."

Tags: Deliver Sport, Featured, News


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  • Sport England
    O&W LSA
  • Active Rutland
  • Blaby LSA
    Melton LSA
  • Leicestershire County Council
  • Harborough LSA
    Equality Standard
  • H&B LSA
    Active Leicester
  • Active Partnerships
    Charnwood LSA