Adolescents drop out at the sports club due to fixed training times and obligations

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Children from the age of 13 are less interested in group sports. For years, sports clubs have seen a strong outflow of teenagers. An investigation by Kantar, commissioned by NOC*NSF, now provides more insight into the background.

According to the sports umbrella, teenagers drop out because they find fixed training times and other obligations difficult. Other hobbies and the cost of a membership are also discouraging.

Younger children are often members of a sports club. But from the age of 13, the number of children who have little or no intention to do sports doubles from 14 to 28 percent.

A quarter of children aged 13 to 18 do not participate in sports, compared to 13 percent in the 5 to 12 age group. The number of children who participate in weekly sports also decreases from the age of thirteen: 66 percent participate in sports on a weekly basis, compared to 79 percent in the age group below.


It is unclear whether the situation has changed compared to previous years, as no previous figures are available. But according to researcher Remko van den Dool of the Mulier Institute, which researches sports behaviour, it has been the case for some time that young people drop out around the age of 13.

“This competition between sports and other activities already existed 20 years ago. When children go to secondary school, we see that interest in sports decreases,” he says. For example, the competitions are getting more serious, so kids don’t like it as much. Or there are other things that will take up more time in their lives, such as homework help or hobbies. “There are many reasons to lose weight.”

Lack of time

Adults aged 18 to 44 also have difficulty playing sports in a club, the study shows. They find it increasingly difficult to fit into their busy lives with work or a family. This group of adults cites lack of time as the main reason for not exercising.

Once people are older and children have left home, for example, the enthusiasm for weekly sports increases again. Motivation is highest in this group of over-45s.


The total number of people who exercise weekly fell during the corona crisis and was not back to the old level last year. NOC*NSF says that association life is under pressure at more than 25,000 sports clubs. They also face a shortage of volunteers.

The sports umbrella advises clubs to offer a more varied range and to cooperate more with other sports, so that they can, for example, jointly hire a professional to strengthen their position.

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