Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

SFIA Products and Services

Peak Age Analysis Reveals Keys to Growing Team Sports

Date: 6/1/09

JUPITER, FLORIDA – June 1, 2009 –  According to the SGMA Sports & Fitness Participation Study (2009 Edition), an age group analysis of soccer participation reveals that the sport hits its high point in participation at age seven. 

While soccer has the earliest peak with respect to age for team sports, tackle football has the oldest. The peak age for participation for tackle football is 15. Baseball participation peaks at age eight, while basketball is much later as participation peaks at age 13.

According to SGMA Research, this presents a number of unique challenges for those that are charged with growing their respective sport as well as those that make products for it. If you are looking to grow soccer or increase sales of soccer-oriented products, given the young nature of the participants, it would be a good idea to look toward parental influence and parental guidance when it comes to growing the sport as well as brands associated with the sport. It also means that a specific sport that skews younger has growth potential by getting children to stay involved with that specific sport a little longer.
Soccer participation skews young so that means marketing efforts have to go in two directions simultaneously. Keith Storey, vice president of SGMA Research, points out that while the children influence buying decisions, it is parents that make the final purchase. Parents have a totally different set of motivators and factors that influence their buying and also participation decisions.
“Parents will look to safety and other issues like practice times and how sports participation may affect their child’s school work,” said Storey. “Whereas, if you’re looking to grow basketball and sell more basketball equipment, you need to appeal more to a teenager and a consumer that is just beginning to establish their loyalty to a sport or a specific brand. It also means there is growth potential by getting players to play their sport at a younger age.” 
Storey adds that SGMA Research is planning to examine Grassroots Sports Participation in America this coming September. 

The chart below provides some additional information as well as the percentage of age participation by major team sports. If you would like to see how your specific sport or activity measures up with respect age participation, please contact neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.


Age 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Baseball 20.5% 22.9% 24.1% 22.2% 21.0% 18.9% 17.1% 15.0% 13.9% 12.8% 11.9% 9.7% 8.7%
Basketball 11.8% 16.1% 20.7% 23.9% 26.6% 27.7% 28.7% 29.5% 27.9% 25.8% 22.0% 19.6% 17.6%
Football (Tackle) 1.5% 3.0% 5.3% 7.4% 9.0% 9.7% 11.4% 13.8% 14.7% 15.3% 12.9% 11.5% 9.4%
Soccer (Outdoor) 23.6% 24.4% 23.7% 23.6% 21.6% 20.2% 17.4% 16.1% 13.5% 11.9% 9.3% 9.0% 8.1%
Softball (Slow-Pitch) 3.2% 3.8% 5.0% 6.5% 6.5% 6.0% 5.2% 5.3% 4.9% 4.4% 3.9% 3.6% 3.3%

The annual Sports & Fitness Participation Study is conducted using a sample of 40,000+ Americans. The study collects detailed demographic and lifestyle data on participants in 114 sports and related activities. If you would like to see a more detailed report for your specific sport, contact Neil Schwartz at SGMA Research -- 561-427-0647 or neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.

SGMA Research is the exclusive provider research and analysis for SGMA. Current studies include:
  • Annual Sports Participation Study
  • Individual Sport Reports
  • State of the Industry Report
  • Industry Shipments Report
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA Research, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.sgma.com.


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