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Table 1 Studies investigating the psychological and social health benefits of participation in sport for children and/or adolescents

From: A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport

Ref. & Year Design* Method Sample (n) Country Age (yrs) Cohort** Sex*** Aim Sport Other PA Theory Key finding(s) Psychological, social health outcomes Score (%)
[35] 2011 Quant. Long. 739 USA 11-15 & 15-18 Adol. B Explore associations between sport & suicide ideation & attempts Sport No sport - Youth involved in sport in both middle & high school had lower odds of suicidal ideation than non-sport participants Fewer suicide attempts 78
Qual. Cross. 17 parents & 18 Children Canada Child. M 13 adults M 45 Child. & adult B Investigate perceptions of benefits of youth sport participation & challenges with providing children with sporting opportunities Sport - Ecological approach, Positive Youth Development Parents & children reported sport participation associated with a range of personal & social developmental benefits including emotional control & confidence & making new friends, relationships & social skills Social benefits (relationship with coaches, friends, teamwork/social skills), Personal benefits (emotional control, exploration, confidence) NA
Quant. Long. 208 Swiss 7-8 & parents Child. & parent B Investigate role of sport as mediating onset or development of social anxiety Extracurricular sport Individual or no sport Antonovsky’s (1997) Salutogenesis model & Bandura’s (1977)Social Learning theory Children in team sports reported a reduction in social anxiety Reduced anxiety 78
Quant. Cross. 325 USA - Adol. B Compare health-related quality of life between athletes (school or club sports) & non-athletes School or club sport Non-school or club sport - Athletes (school or club sports) reported higher social functioning, mental health & happiness compared with non-athletes Mental health 53
[39] 2010 Quant. Cross. 31,117 USA 6-11 Child.'s parent B Investigate association between participation in out-of-school activities & behaviour Sport team/lesson & sport club/organisation No outside school activity - Children who participated in sports & clubs had greater social competence during middle childhood compared with children who did not participate in any sports or clubs outside of school activities Social skills, problem behaviour overall, try to resolve conflicts, show respect for teachers & neighbours 87
[40] 2009 Quant. Long. 1357 USA M 11 Wave 1 Adol. B Assess relations among sports participation, other extracurricular activities & indicators of youth development Sport Other extracurricular activities Theory of Positive Youth Development Participation in a combination of youth & youth development programs related to self-esteem & other positive developmental measures. Youth participating primarily in sports & youth development programs had highest positive youth development scores Positive Youth Development (competence, confidence, connection, character, caring) 77
[41] 2009 Quant. Cross. 1,711 USA 10 to 18 Child. & youth B Compare activity patterns in sports & other types of organised activities for adolescents Sport Non sport organised extracurricular activities Theory of Positive Youth Development Those who participate in sports had more positive outcomes (including confidence, connections & social well-being) compared with those with little or no involvement in sport but less compared with those who participated in sport plus other activities Positive youth development, social well-being, school connectedness, 86
[42] 2008 Quant. Cross. 13,857 USA 12-18 Adol. B Examine the relative risk of hopelessness & suicidality associated with sport & physical activity participation Team sport No sport - Sport participation protected against hopelessness & suicide. Social support & integration may account for some of the differences between types of physical activity Hopelessness, suicidality 80
[43] 2008 Quant. Cross. 3836 USA 9th-12th grade Adol. B Explore relationships between physical activity behaviours & emotional self-efficacy Sport No sport, other physical activity - Playing on sport teams was associated with better emotional self-efficacy Emotional self-efficacy 80
[44] 2008 Quant. Long. 201 Canada 8-11 & Parents Child. & parents B Examine the role of organised sport participation as a moderator of the links between shyness & psychosocial maladjustment in childhood Sport no sport - Sport participation was positively related to social skills & self-esteem. Shy children who participated in sport reported a significant decrease in anxiety. Benefits of sport participation for children include higher positive affect & well-being & social skills Assertive, self control, cooperation, self-esteem, positive affect, well-being 76
[45] 2008 Qual. Cross. 55 USA   Adol. B Understand the positive and negative aspects of parental involvement in youth sports Sport - - Sport builds self-esteem, friendships and a sense of belonging among a team of peers (within a team or competing as an individual against peers). Self-esteem, friendships, sense of belonging NA
[46] 2006 Quant. Cross. 449 Canada 8 th-10th grade Adol. B Test hypothesis that positive team sports involvement mediates the effects of risks on depression Team sport & positive team sport Less or no team sport - Participation in team sports partially mediated the risks for depressive symptoms Depressive symptoms 81
[47] 2006 Quant. Cross. 203 USA 11-13 Child. B Examine relationship between children’s sport participation & emotional well-being Sport Less sport or no sport - Sports participation positively associated with self-concept. Greater participation in sports was related to enhanced emotional & behavioural well-being. Athletic competency was related to reduced emotional & behavioural problems Self-concept, emotional & behavioural wellbeing, perceived competence 53
[48] 2006 Quant. Cross. 382 Canada 5th-8th grade Child. & Adol. B Examine the links between sports participation & self-esteem Sport Less or no sport - Sports participation was related to self-esteem. Physical self-esteem mediates the relationship between sports participation & general self-esteem Competence, self-esteem 75
[49] 2006 Quant. Cross. 7428 Switzerland 16-20 Adol. B Examines socio-demographic & lifestyle correlates of sport participation Sport No sport - Most active adolescents reported greater well-being than their inactive peers. Sport participants had higher perceived health & life satisfaction Perceived health, life satisfaction 87
[50] 2004 Quant. Long. 247 USA M 13 Wave 1 & M 16 Wave 4 Adol. F Investigated the contribution of team sport to self-esteem development Team sport achievement - - Sports achievement experiences in early adolescence positively associated with self-esteem in middle adolescence Self-esteem 67
[51] 2004 Quant. Cross. 4758 USA 9th-12th grade Adol. B Explore relationships between perceived life satisfaction & physical activity behaviour Team sport No team sport - Playing on team sports associated with greater life satisfaction Life satisfaction 87
[52] 2003 Quant. Cross. 51,168 USA 9th grade Adol. B Investigate whether school team sports participation is associated with higher levels of psychosocial functioning & healthy behaviour than other activities Team sport Other extracurricular activities - Students involved in sport had higher self-image & less emotional distress than students not involved in sport Emotional distress, suicidal behaviour 87
[53] 2003 Quant. Cross. 450 USA 9th-12 grade Adol. B Investigate different developmental & negative experiences in organised youth activities Sport Other organised activities - Youths in sport activities reported higher rates of managing emotions compared to youth in academic & leadership activities. Youth in sports reported higher rates of self-knowledge, emotional regulation & negative peer interaction Self-knowledge, emotional regulation, peer interaction 88
[54] 2003 Quant. Cross. 770 USA M 16 Adol. B Compare the impact of organised, more intensive sports participation with lower intensity participation among high school student-athletes Competitive sport participation Recreation sport participation - Competitive sports participation associated with a lower frequency of mental ill-health Mental health problems 60
[55] 2003 Quant. Cross. 918 USA 16-17 Adol. B Examine the participation of adolescents in both constructive, organized & relaxed leisure activities Sport Other structured & unstructured activities - Youths highly involved in sports were more ‘psychologically resilient” or able to bounce back from problems Psychological resilience 67
[56] 2002 Quant. Cross. 4632 USA, Puerto Rica M 15 Adol. B Test hypothesis that school-based sport is associated with self-esteem & school attachment & a sense of physical wellbeing mediates this relationship School sport Less or no school sport - Participating in school sport positively related to self-esteem Self-esteem 67
[57] 2001 Quant. Long. 500 Germany 12-18 Adol. B Investigate possible causal relationship between adolescent activity in sports club & improvements in motor ability & psycho-social health Sports club member Non-sports club member Socialization theory & Ecology-oriented approaches Sport club activities associated with positive psycho-social health (including self-esteem). Girls discover sports as a source of self-esteem earlier than boys Self-esteem, social interactions 50
[58] 2001 Quant. Long. 1036 USA 9th to 11th grade Adol. B Investigate whether sports involvement positively contributes to mental health Team sport Less or no team sport - Team sport involvement associated with reduced depressed mood Depressed mood 67
[59] 2001 Quant. Long. 900 USA 6th-10th grade initially Adol. & adult B Examined sequel of participation in high school activities & identity group Team sport Other extracurricular activities - Sport participation protects student athletes against social isolation Social isolation 44
[60] 2000 Quant. Cross. 89 USA M 17 Adol. B Investigated whether sports involvement is related to social & psychological well-being Sport No or less sport - Moderate sports involvement group had lower depression scores than low sports involvement group Depression score 60
[61] 2000 Quant. Cross. 1769 USA M 16 Adol. B Investigate effects of athletic participation in the development of adolescent mental health patterns Team sport No or less sport - Sport participation associated with mental health benefits Mental health 73
[62] 1999 Quant. Cross. 9268 Switzerl& 15-20 Adol. B Determine the direction & strength of the associations between frequency of sport & health variables Sport & club sport No sport - Sport participants had superior well-being (better adjusted, less nervous or anxious, more often full of energy & happy about their life, & less often sad, depressed or desperate, & less suicidal thoughts Well-being, depressed, suicidal thoughts 80
[63] 1996 Quant. Cross. 5076 UK M 16 Adol. B Assessed association between extent of participation in regular sport or vigorous recreational activity & emotional wellbeing Sport Less or no sport - Sport & vigorous recreational activity participation was positively associated with emotional well-being Emotional well-being 75
[64] 1993 Quant. Long. 22 USA Last 2 years of high school Adol. B Examine the effects of participation in sport during last 2 years of high school Sport participation Non sport participation Coleman's (1959) emphasizing the effects of sport participation for adolescents, & Synder’s (1985) multiple role theory Sport participation positively associated with post-secondary outcomes of social self concept Social self-concept 65
  1. *Quant. (Quantitative): Qual. (Qualitative): Rev. (Review) ** Adol. (Adolescent): Child. (Children) ***M (Male): F (Female): B (Both Male and Female).