Two decades of youth sport policy research: an augmented scoping review and synthesis

Iain Lindsey*, Anna-Maria Strittmatter, John Hayton, Jimmy O'Gorman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Research question: This article addresses the need to develop a comprehensive understanding of research on the formation and content of youth sport policies by presenting a review of studies across the period from 2000 to 2020. The review examined the scale and scope of these studies, collective research findings, and theoretical and methodological approaches utilised. Research methods: Compatible approaches to research synthesis were utilised. Scoping review methods supported searching within 31 relevant journals. Scoping review techniques augmented by those of ‘meta-study’ were used to analyse the 71 articles that were identified through the review. The definition of youth sport policy research through inclusion/exclusion of articles was determined Results and Findings: Youth sport policy research was dominated by studies in Europe and North America. There was also a predominance of qualitative methods, with studies being collectively limited in their utilisation of theory. Forty-four percent of studies examined policies focused on schools, with similar proportions (between 17% and 20%) addressing policies for welfare and safeguarding, community-based participation, and high-performance sport. Youth sport policy goals were often found to overlap and be influenced by other policy agendas, with health being a prominent policy concern. Implications: Besides the need for a wider geographical spread, improved theoretical underpinning and expanding quantitative methods should be priorities for future youth sport policy research. Extending normative analysis and study of democracy and inclusion in youth sport policy-making should also be pursued, especially as young people appear commonly excluded from these processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2023

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