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Examining the relationship between youth sports participation and elite sporting success at a sport-specific level

Boekbijdrage - Boekhoofdstuk Conferentiebijdrage

Introduction: The sports policy in Flanders focuses on two objectives: (1) increasing sports participation and (2) enhancing elite sporting success. A common assumption among policymakers is that elite sports and grassroots sports are interdependent with grassroots sports, particularly youth participation, acting as the breeding ground for elite sports talents. Therefore, it is suggested that a broader participation base will result in increased elite sporting success. This phenomenon is known as the trickle-up effect. However, scientific studies have rarely demonstrated its occurrence. This research aims to examine the relationship between youth sports participation and elite sporting success across sports in Flanders.
Methods: Over 23 years (2000-2022), Sport Vlaanderen collected youth participation data and elite sports success scores across 27 Olympic Summer sports. Mean values spanning the measurement period were used to evaluate sport-specific correlations between youth sports participation and
Results: The study revealed variable relationships between youth participation numbers and the level of elite success across sports. However, while high youth participation is associated with high levels of
success in most sports, volleyball stands out as an exception with high participation but low success.
Conversely, in six sports with low youth participation, Flanders still managed to achieve notable success (>1% of market share). These findings suggest that extensive youth participation is not a prerequisite for international success.
Conclusion: This research contributed valuable insights into the relationship between youth sport participation numbers and the levels of elite sporting success in 27 sports in Flanders. It highlighted substantial variations in the trickle-up effect among sports and underscored that this effect does not occur automatically. Future research is recommended to consider other factors, such as the quality of youth sports delivery, talent identification systems, and talent development systems, which could play pivotal roles in shaping this complex relationship.
Correspondence e-mail: kari.descheemaeker@vub.be
Boek: VBSW Proceedings 2023
Pagina's: 10
Aantal pagina's: 1
Jaar van publicatie:2023