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Investigating reasons for sport drop-out amongst girls

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1 Investigating reasons for sport drop-out amongst girls
31 March, 2017 Sustaining participation in teenage girls Chris Lillistone, Insight and Innovation, WSFF and Carrie Myers, Girlguiding UK Investigating reasons for sport drop-out amongst girls 1

2 Contents Introductions Teenage drop off – the problem
The dry bit: research background and method Why do girls drop out? Drop out myths Its not all bad – what young women love about sport So what do we do to keep them in? How do other organisations deal with drop out? Case study: Girlguiding UK Discussion

3 Teenage drop off – the problem
31 March, 2017 Teenage drop off – the problem Proportion of young people who take part in recommended levels of physical activity, by gender and age In all sports, almost half as many 16 – 24 year old women take part in sport as men of the same age

4 31 March, 2017 Many sports notice a significant drop out or withdrawal from their sport among female participants in their teenage years % of girls who take part in sport at least once a month by age Active People Survey 4 ( )

5 The research and method
31 March, 2017 The research and method

6 31 March, 2017 THE PROBLEM: 9 National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs), have identified retention as a target and want to gain a deeper insight around drivers and barriers to participation as well as sport-specific motivations. OBJECTIVE: identify key reasons (practical, psycho-social and individual sport specific) for young women dropping out of sport, and identify further interventions to shape a new future WHO: WSFF commissioned the Futures Company to carry out the bespoke research Gymnastics HOW: Paired interviews and focus groups with year-old current participants and non participants from each of the 8 participating sports (badminton, tennis, basketball, hockey, football, rugby union, rugby league, netball)

7 31 March, 2017 Why do girls drop out? 7

8 As they grow up, teenage girls have to contend with a number of personal and lifestyle challenges.
Peer pressure to be socially accepted Relationships/ boyfriends Less direct parental involvement and support Increased body consciousness More pressure to do well at school 11 yrs old 12 yrs old 13 yrs old 14 yrs old 15 yrs old 16 yrs old 17 yrs old 18 yrs old 19 yrs old 3 points to mention: Interests change Girls from a less wealthy background/ lower SEG feel more pressure to get a job and earn their keep Standard for girls to drop sport study and boys don’t Understanding the pressures and demands of being a teenager is critical to understanding the role of sport in their lives.

9 Sporting reasons Lifestyle reasons Personal reasons
31 March, 2017 Sporting reasons Lack of players Too competitive No future potential/ career opportunities Lifestyle reasons Fall out with other players Friends Unfriendly team/club Relationships/ boyfriends Jump to senior league Personal reasons Embarrassing Work/ job Unfit Seasonal Lazy Transport/ convenience No role models /lack of publicity Money Not very good at the sport School work No school links with clubs Parental support Lack of match play Other sport/ hobby commitments Lack of coaches Coach personality Tired of playing against same teams Risk of getting hurt Time for something new 9

10 8 key reasons Sporting reasons Lifestyle reasons Personal reasons
31 March, 2017 BAD COACHES/ SPORTS TEACHERS BIG JUMP FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEAGUES Sporting reasons Lifestyle reasons LACK OF SUPPORT FROM SCHOOLS COMMITMENTS/ PRESSURES CONFLICTS Personal reasons COMPETING SOCIAL PRESSURES LACK OF PLAYERS TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW These reasons correspondingly fall into personal, lifestyle and sporting areas, although they are often interlinked. NOT ENOUGH OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN MATCHES 10

11 Playing a sport from a young age can get boring after so many years
TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW Dedication and commitment to a sport can, after while, become something of a burden REASON IMPACT Playing a sport from a young age can get boring after so many years Girls who have played a particular sport for a long time can reach a point where they become tired and bored and yearn for something new – either another sport or a non-sport interest. Playing sport at a high level requires a lot of commitment and dedication Having to commit and dedicate a lot of time to play at a high level can become too much for some girls. They can become resentful of the sport and leave to regain some freedom. “There is too much training at a high level and if you started young you may get bored by a certain age – that happened with me with rowing”. Hockey lapsed “People can get bored of playing and stop. I swam loads when I was younger but when I was 16 I started going less – it can take its toll and I wanted to take up the opportunity to try dancing or rowing”. Sometimes girls just want to try something new – it bears no reflection on the sport experience itself.

12 VOX POP (1) Played for so long I’m now bored of it

New interests in socialising and increased focus on studies mean that sport may have to take a back seat REASON IMPACT Increasing independence/freedom Girls start to discover new interests (socialising, shopping, going out) and as a result drop other past-times including sport. Greater emphasis on education and academic success From the age of 15 girls start focussing more on studying, and feel under pressure to do well in exams (GCSEs and A-levels). As such, more time is spent studying leaving less time to spend on hobbies/interests. “When everyone gets to 15-16yrs that’s when you start drinking and going out and developing a social life – it takes over and becomes a priority”. “Boys and girls are different in what they want to do in their spare time – girls have different priorities and interests –it’s [sport] just not what you do I guess”. “People get boyfriends and would rather spend time with them”. “School work and exams get in the way of playing”. “You have to work – your parents can't support you forever!” This is a difficult issue to address but sports need to be understanding of competing pressures and help girls find ways to fit sport into their lives.

A school’s commitment and encouragement of sports is critical in maintaining participation REASON IMPACT Schools and clubs largely operate independently – they lack links and schools fail to encourage and promote clubs to students Students who enjoy playing sport at school are largely unaware of club opportunities. Players get limited exposure to larger competitions/other teams. Senior schools often prioritise and focus on only a certain few (often traditional girls’) sports For the remaining sports, the coaching and match opportunities are limited or non-existent. Students are often left to organise play themselves – this can easily fall apart. Schools are committed to the academic success of their students and are also protective of their sporting talent Schools can be discouraging of students playing sport outside of school as it conflicts with study time and can also cause a conflict of loyalties between school and club sports. Absence of interest in B teams B teams are given less opportunity to train and compete, leaving girls in B teams feeling neglected and de-motivated. Schools/ colleges provide fewer opportunities for 6th formers (16-18yrs) to play sport A lack of organised sports for 6th formers (no coaches/training/matches) means that they may discontinue playing sports.

What girls have to say... “I had a big problem with an RS teacher at school. She didn't like me playing for a hockey club. If I didn't do my homework she would tell me I was playing too much sport”. “Sometimes schools won’t connect you with a local club – they want you on their tennis team”. “Schools should do more to encourage the game and link you to clubs”. “Our school didn't coach us netball so we had to form our own team and got a 6th former to come and help out – I would have liked more support from the school”. “Our school wasn't really into netball – we had an A team but they didn't want a B team so we created it ourselves”. Schools need to provide opportunities to play throughout senior school and sixth form across a range of sports.

16 Time pressures may compromise dedication to sport
CONFLICTS WITH OTHER COMMITMENTS/ PRESSURES Time pressures may compromise dedication to sport REASON IMPACT Other interests (another sport, job or other) require fixed, regular commitment Scheduling of interests can clash – two things happen to be on the same day at the same time – and one gets dropped. High level sports require a lot of commitment and it can become hard to juggle other sports as well. As a result, sports tend to get dropped so the girls can focus on just one. “I was on a hockey and netball team but I gave up as did a foundation in art which takes up time”. “When you’re 16 you want a Saturday job but matches are always on Saturdays”. “I was on the first team (hockey), but I prefer dancing, dancing is what I do. It will help with my career- it’s about priorities”. “I played for a team (Badminton) but it conflicted with rugby training so I had to stop. My friends were in rugby”. Whilst a sport can’t be designed to fit around every girl’s schedule, permanent drop out could be reduced by making it easier for girls to come back to a sport once their conflicting interests have ended.

17 VOX POP (2) I had to chose between two sports and prioritise

18 The coach’s role is vital in the quality of the sport experience
BAD COACHES/ SPORTS TEACHERS The coach’s role is vital in the quality of the sport experience REASON IMPACT Some coaches are unenthusiastic Coaches play a crucial role in enthusing players. Without their enthusiasm and commitment, players can lose interest and leave. Some coaches have favourites (often the really good players) Unfair decisions and preferences can mean that girls miss out on match play. This leaves players feeling undervalued and de-motivated. An overly aggressive, critical or serious coaching approach is very off-putting to girls Girls need to feel supported and understood, as well as be allowed to have fun, otherwise their enjoyment of the experience can be ruined. Enthusiastic, supportive, committed and fun coaches are key to maintaining teenage girls’ interest in and commitment to the sport. Having a female coach is much less important.

What girls have to say... “Some of my badminton coaches took it too light-heartedly – they didn't care whereas in rugby the coaches weren't like that and with them I wanted to try harder and impress my coaches more”. “I had a bad football manager – he was never around – he was too quiet and didn’t encourage us. He also had favourites”. “A coach makes it for you – if they’re not enthusiastic then you’re not. If you get picked on it makes it a horrible experience for you”. “The teachers not being enthusiastic is a big thing. PE teachers love their teams but are not very nice to the people who aren't in the teams. They have too much pride in talent”. “Some coaches shout a lot at you and some people don't like that and take it personally – it can put them off”. “Jackie (football coach) was good – she was relaxed about things and if you did something wrong, instead of shouting at you, she would just mention it and tell you how to do it better next time”.

20 With others leaving, girls that stay can lose out
LACK OF PLAYERS With others leaving, girls that stay can lose out REASON IMPACT Other girls in the team/club leave due to other commitments and social pressures The girls that remain in the sport end up being affected by the girls who leave as they are left with too few players to form a team or no-one to play with. “I stopped netball because not many girls my age were playing and at school there weren't enough people to carry it on”. “When I got to 6th form there weren't enough people to make teams and the standard is too high outside of school so I stopped”. “your friends prefer to go shopping and if you are the only one who wants to kick a ball around it’s not cool!” Maintaining numbers of players is important in keeping hold of those who do want to play. Clubs need to have a bigger player base to allow for some drop out.

21 VOX POP (3) No-one my age to play with at the club

BIG JUMP FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEAGUES The transition from junior to senior leagues is a sudden and significant leap REASON IMPACT Senior players are more experienced/ better players Girls are concerned that they won’t be as good, they might struggle to keep up and lack confidence playing against senior ladies. Senior players are at a different life-stage Senior ladies can be aged from late twenties to fifties and have different interests to teenagers. A lack of common interests makes it harder to socialise and bond (especially in team sports). Senior players are bigger and stronger For some sports (typically the more physical/ contact sports) girls are concerned that they will have to play against much stronger players, which could increase the risk of injury. Senior players have a different attitude towards the sport There is a feeling that women either take sport too seriously or too light-heartedly and in either case these girls view the sport differently.

23 BIG JUMP FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEAGUES What girls have to say... “It’s a massive jump to women’s – 15 to 18 was a big enough jump!” Rugby union “For netball once you go from under 17s you go into ladies leagues and go in to a league with 50 year olds and it not fun – they don't care about the sport so much”. Netball “Old fogies at the club can’t keep up with you. It’s not fun playing with older people – the club I joined were struggling for players my age”. Tennis “Some football clubs have an under 18 team but many jump from under 16 to all ages. It can be rough when you are 16 having to play with 30 year olds”. Football “Our age (18/19) is really difficult as you’re too old to play with people your age and the old people are either doing it just for fun or are seriously good. Its hard to play with people the same standard at our age”. Badminton “I was 17 and everyone else was above the age of 25 – I didn't like it. We did all the running - they would say “young legs you can do it”, you get more injuries. Playing people much older and bigger is scary”. Netball Easing and smoothing the transition will help increase girls’ confidence and encourage them to stay in senior league.

24 Playing in matches is fundamental to a good experience of sport
NOT ENOUGH OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN MATCHES Playing in matches is fundamental to a good experience of sport REASON IMPACT Only the best players get opportunities to play matches and compete If you’re not one of the better in a squad, you don’t get selected to play as much as others – this can be disheartening and boring. Girls want to play matches. Competitions/tournaments don’t cater for less serious or less good players Some girls play for the enjoyment rather than serious competition. They still want to work towards something: to be able to compete and get properly involved in the game is vitally important. There aren’t enough opportunities to go on tour Going on tour is highly motivating: it offers adventure, stories, friendships and bonding. Plus, playing on the same circuit against the same teams all the time can be come boring. Whatever the level, girls want more opportunities to compete and play in matches against different teams.

What girls have to say... “If you’re not good, if you don’t get on the team then you’re just going to quit. If you’re on thirds, then you’ve got no incentive”. Hockey lapsed “If the 2nd team always played when the 1st team played then less people would quit – this is the main reason why my friends have quit sport”. Netball current “If you're not on the A team you don't get to play many games so you don't get the fun part. What’s the point if you're not going to play any matches?” Netball lapsed “It’s really important to play a game – its what you wait for and where you learn the most – you can get bored watching on the side line”. Rugby union

26 Drop out myths 31 March, 2017 26

27 Some hypotheses of reasons for drop out were disproved in the research
31 March, 2017 Some hypotheses of reasons for drop out were disproved in the research MYTH: REALITY: Training sessions were too rigid Regular sessions appeal – ensuring dedication and good turnout No female coaches Female coaches not critical – attitude is more important The game is too formal The ‘real’ game is liked – ‘don't mess with it’ Too much focus on competing vs. fitness Playing matches is ‘what it’s all about’ No opportunity to play with boys Girls like playing with girls – boys can be overly competitive and too rough When you first join it’s tricky, but that’s the same with every sport. After a few matches it’s fine. Rules are complicated and hard to follow Only at the start – you get used to them fast Facilities were poor Do not stop girls playing even if poor 27

28 More publicity could help to address these misconceptions.
Some sports are perceived to have a negative image for girls. However, this is not a big enough reason to stop playing Girls are aware of the stereotypical images some sports have – particularly the traditional male sports - rugby, football (and hockey). Whilst it is not a reason in itself to put someone off playing it can be hard on girls to experience name calling. “I have experience of being called gay... you can brush it off but some people have got low self confidence and if it gets drilled into you enough then it’s not nice”. Current rugby league “People think of butch lesbian hockey players but if you watch England or Germany play you can see they are all gorgeous and they’re doctors and stuff”. Current hockey “People always ask me how many lesbians are in my team but it doesn't bother me”. Current rugby union NB: Tennis is particularly successful in promoting a positive image of female players – they are perceived to be glamorous and attractive as well as athletic. More publicity could help to address these misconceptions.

29 what young women love about sport
Its not all bad – what young women love about sport 31 March, 2017 29

30 Girls who don’t drop out of sport tell us they feel a powerful sense of belonging
My passion My release We’re in it together I don’t know what else I’d do My club is like my family I’ve grown up playing My identity Becomes part of their DNA Safety and Escape Friends & Socialising Challenges & Achievements Enjoyment Fitness & Opportunities Team spirit and support

31 What can we do to keep them in?
31 March, 2017 31

32 Personal reasons Lifestyle reasons Sporting reasons BAD COACHES/ SPORTS TEACHERS CONFLICTS WITH OTHER COMMITMENTS/ PRESSURES BIG JUMP FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEAGUES TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW COMPETING SOCIAL PRESSURES NOT ENOUGH OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN MATCHES LACK OF PLAYERS LACK OF SUPPORT FROM SCHOOLS There is potential for sporting bodies to address a number of reasons concerning the sport infrastructure and experience to prevent drop out Personal and lifestyle reasons are perhaps harder to tackle directly, however could be addressed indirectly – as a secondary outcome of interventions

33 Schools and clubs working better together
Schools and clubs can improve their relationship: Schools could help sign post students to nearby clubs, ideally with named contacts Club coaches could visit schools and hold sessions to promote their clubs Clubs or schools could hold workshops with professional players Schools could share facilities with clubs and vice versa Schools can provide more opportunities for match play across abilities to maintain interest and motivation of players: PE teachers and coaches could arrange more tournaments and tours, mixing school and club players A and B teams could train more and play matches together so that B (and C) team players have more opportunities to play Netball – Back to Netball model adjusted to ensure offers enough playing competitively LACK OF SUPPORT FROM SCHOOLS NOT ENOUGH OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN MATCHES BAD COACHES/ SPORTS TEACHERS

34 Introduce under 18s or under 20s league to provide a smaller jump to senior league
Team up clubs with local university teams to allow junior players to play with older players who are not necessarily as experienced or as serious/ competitive as senior leagues BIG JUMP FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEAGUES LACK OF PLAYERS Get clubs talking to and working with each other – if one is short of players then it could collaborate with another to get enough players to maintain a team Offer more matches and competitions across all levels (not just A teams) Make tournaments accessible for different levels so everyone can take part. This give girls exposure to playing against better players and helps players improve their game NOT ENOUGH OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN MATCHES Rugby Union/ League – backed up evidence that competition structures needed reviewing, especially leap from junior to adult Tennis – supporting clubs to create a ‘cluster’ – inter ‘places to play’ competition format focused on teenage girls Initiatives based on these ideas could help maintain participation across sports

35 VOX POP (4) An example of a club that eases the transition of junior to senior

Dealing with coaches and seasonality Ensure that coaches strike the right balance of fun and seriousness in their training techniques Make coaches (particularly male coaches) aware and understanding of how to adapt their coaching methods for girls EXAMPLE - The FA is working with coaches using WSFF ‘Coaching Women’ resources to better understand BAD COACHES/ SPORTS TEACHERS For seasonal sports, offer opportunities for players to train and compete over summer months to help them maintain fitness and prepare them better for the next season (and in some cases help get them in shape for pre-season trials) Initiatives based on these ideas could help maintain participation across sports

37 Provide other reasons to stay
Opportunities to get involved in other ways such as refereeing or coaching may offer additional personal benefits e.g. good for UCAS form/ CV, a way of earning some money. “it makes you feel really proud when younger ones you have taught improve – you can pass your skills down to them” “Coaching and refereeing are other things people our age can put on CVs which is a good thing” “it means that even if you are not serious about the sport you can be part of things which is good” These ideas, which build on the benefits, could help sport to successfully compete against other commitments and social pressures

38 Tours and competitions
More opportunity to take part in national competitions and tours give girls something to work towards and offer a sense of achievement “If you said to someone you played in a national competition people would think wow that’s really good” These ideas, which build on the benefits, could help sport to successfully compete against other commitments and social pressures

39 Building social aspect of sport
Clubs could better facilitate social events for their players: Hold BBQs, social outings (cinema, meal), social night at the bar where players can hang out (can be non-alcoholic) Events for family and friends to get involved: Encourage players to invite friends/ family to watch them play in training/ matches – this helps encourage support, it can reassure family with regards to risk of injury and can increase performance levels and motivation Hold social events where players can invite friends and families e.g. BBQs, award ceremonies, annual ball/ party Hold sport events for friends and family to take part – adds a sense of fun and allows everyone to join in and experience the sport Combining socialising with sport can create a bridge between the activity and other family/ social interests

40 Fundraising to overcome financial issues and increase opportunities for tours/competitions
Finding creative ways to cover costs gives a real sense of team spirit. It also gets family, friends and the community involved – increasing the exposure of both the team and the sport Girls at Stockport Basketball club have a great attitude to working together and helping the team stay afloat. When they host matches they have to provide food for the other team. They assign every team member an item to make and bring along. They raise money for their club fund. This year they packed bags at Morrisons. They also organise cake sales. All the money goes to the club fund for trophies, mini bus, referees and team trips. The girls also keep in contact via Facebook to pass on the latest news and chat about the game.

41 How do other organisations deal with teenage drop out?
Case study: Girlguiding UK 31 March, 2017

42 Over to you 31 March, 2017

43 Group work 1) What is the problem?
31 March, 2017 Group work 1) What is the problem? 2) What reasons are there for drop out? 3) What might you try to overcome the problem?

44 Investigating reasons for sport drop-out amongst girls
31 March, 2017 Further information Chris Lillistone, WSFF, Carrie Myers, Girlguiding UK, Investigating reasons for sport drop-out amongst girls 44

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