Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Russell R. Pate
Youth sport participation has been widely supported as a strategy for promoting physical activity in children and youth. Previous research has identified positive associations between youth sport participation and children’s physical activity levels. However, there is a paucity of research regarding characteristics of youth sport that may affect the amount and intensity of physical activity youth attain during sport participation. This dissertation is comprised of three studies, and the overall purpose is to examine how characteristics of youth sport associate with children’s physical activity. In the first study, the relationship between types of sport participation and objectively measured physical activity in a sample of middle school youth was examined. Results indicated that children who participated in sport were more physically active and less sedentary than their non-participant peers. Additionally, children’s physical activity level was positively associated with frequency of sport participation. The purpose of the second study was to describe practice and social contextual factors that associated with children’s physical activity levels during their participation in a youth sport program. A direct observational system was used to measure children’s physical activity intensity and practice and social contextual factors during practices. Results indicated that practice contexts, such as fitness and game activities, were associated with higher intensities of physical activity. The third study examined how certain coaching factors relate to children’s physical activity levels during their participation in a youth sport program. A direct observational system was used to measure children’s physical activity intensity, coaching behaviors, and coach proximity during practices. Coaching experience and training data were assessed via surveys completed by coaches. Results indicated that specific coach behaviors, such as watching children perform practice activities with and without verbal feedback, were associated with higher intensity levels of children’s physical activity. In addition, prior coaching experience was positively related to children’s physical activity levels. Coaching training did not appear to positively influence children’s engagement in physical activity. Overall, the findings of this dissertation describe the physical activity behaviors and related youth sport characteristics of children participating in youth sport programs. Findings indicated that children’s physical activity was directly related to their level of participation in sport. Additionally, characteristics of youth sport including practice context, coaching behaviors, coaching experience, and coach training appear to influence children’s physical activity intensity during their participation in youth sport. Collectively, the findings of this dissertation highlight the important role that youth sport programs can play as a setting for physical activity promotion of children and youth.
Shull, E. R.(2021). The Influence of Sport Participation on Physical Activity in Youth. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/6457