The Sport Participation Pathway Model (SPPM): a conceptual model for participation and retention in community sport

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Eime, Rochelle ORCID: 0000-0002-8614-2813, Charity, Melanie and Westerbeek, Hans ORCID: 0000-0001-5092-9676 (2022) The Sport Participation Pathway Model (SPPM): a conceptual model for participation and retention in community sport. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 14 (2). pp. 291-304. ISSN 1940-6940


National sport policy has a dual focus on population-based participation, and elite performance. There are various models depicting the pathway to elite, however, there has not been a population-based sport participation pathway model to track, develop and facilitate holistic participation policies in sport. The aim of this study is to review sport participation trends, including new data on retention and drop-out across age groups in community club-based sport, and combine this data with evidence from literature about people moving in and out of sport, to develop the Sport Participation Pathway Model (SPPM), which provides a holistic view of sport participation. We conducted a 3-year analysis of sport participation for eight major sports from 2015–2017 for children and young people aged 4–29 years. The total number of participants was 579,696. Only half 50.8% played continuously for the three years, 44.7% dropped out, and 4.5% played discontinuously. Drop-out was highest for those aged 4 (57.0%), and lowest for those aged 10–14 years (39.3%). The SPPM demonstrates the movements of participation in sport and the drop-out at various stages out of competitive club-based sport and for those who are the main participants. The model is a standalone sport participation model that is a representation and integration of empirical sport participation. This model therefore is most useful for sports organisations to recognise issues around retention and drop-out. In developing sport policies, government can also use the model to make decisions on target groups and funding support.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/19406940.2022.2034913
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Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords Sport Participation Pathway Model, SPPM, sport retention, sport participation, community sport
Citations in Scopus 2 - View on Scopus
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