Sports and Youth Development Programs: Theoretical and Practical Implication of Early Adolescent Participation in Multiple Instances of Structured Out-of-School (OST) Activity


  • Nicole Zarrett Tufts University
  • Jack Peltz Tufts University
  • Kristen Fay Tufts University
  • Yibing Li Tufts University
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner Boston College Lynch School of Education
  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University



Among today’s youth, the most ubiquitous OST activity is sports. However, many of these youth are also participating in at least one other OST activity along with their participation in sports. Using longitudinal data from 1,622 youth (56.8% female) from the first three waves (Grades 5, 6, and 7) of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD), we employed a pattern-centered approach to assess differences in adolescent functioning depending on what types of OST activities youth were participating in along with their sports participation. Our findings suggest that youth benefit from their sports participation differently depending on what other types of additional activities they participate in during their out-of-school time. In particular, a participation pattern characterized by high participation in sports and Youth Development Programs was found to be the most effective activity profile for promoting PYD and preventing youth problems. Implications of these findings in research and practice are discussed.






Feature Articles