Research project Many girls and boys quit sport in their teens. The reasons for this has eluded scientists and sports organizations for many years.
This study was performed on behalf of the Swedish Floorball Association with the aim to understand why girls quit floorball during their teenage years and to increase knowledge about what sport clubs can do to prevent girls from quitting.
Special focus was directed towards the disengagement process which the girls undergoes when they take the decision to quit their sport participation. The study is based on data from 24 semi-structured interviews with 12 girls aged 13-18 years (n=12) and with one parent from each of the girls (n=12). The results showed that the disengagement process can take from a few months up to two years before the girl takes the final decision. A combination of different factors was found as the most common main reason to quit, and six salient factors were identified as crucial for the decision. The observed critical factors was; an increased focus on sport performance and results, changes in the team's formation, new coaches and changes in the coach's attitudes, interest in any other activity or sport, lack of time and high demands on themselves. Often a girl had quit due to a combination of three to four of these factors. The results indicated that the critical factors connected to the girls' decision often was related to changes from the way it was earlier in younger years. Furthermore, the results showed that parents were involved in the girls' disengagement process, while representatives from the sport clubs were almost absent. Therefore, the representatives of sport clubs have limited knowledge about who the girls are and why they are thinking about quitting the sport. This means representatives are less able to adopt accurate strategies or to implement appropriate interventions to reduce the drop-out rate. One message to the sport organisations is therefore to develop strategies for dealing with the members' thoughts and feelings about their sport participation and be especially aware of how changes in sport, in a combination with other critical factors, may affect the athletes'.