Patterns of adolescents' participation in organized activities: are sports best when combined with other activities?

Dev Psychol. 2009 Mar;45(2):354-67. doi: 10.1037/a0014133.


Although many adolescents participate in sports and other types of organized activities, little extant research explores how youth development outcomes may vary for youth involved in different combinations of activities. The present study uses the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a large, nationally representative sample, to compare activity patterns of adolescents ages 10-18 years (n = 1,711). A cluster analytic technique revealed 5 activity clusters: sports-focused, sports plus other activities, primarily school-based activities, primarily religious youth groups, and low activity involvement. Activity patterns were examined in conjunction with 5 categories of youth development outcomes, including competence (e.g., academic ability), confidence (e.g., self-concept of ability), connections (e.g., talking with friends), character (e.g., externalizing behavior problems), and caring (e.g., prosocial behavior). Results showed that those who participated only in sports had more positive outcomes compared with those who had little or no involvement in organized activities, but less positive outcomes compared with those who participated in sports plus other activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Aptitude
  • Character
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Identification*
  • Socialization
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sports / psychology*
  • United States