The National Youth Sports Strategy is an essential resource for policymakers and key decision-makers in youth sports. It aims to unite U.S. youth sports culture around a shared vision: that one day, all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability, or ZIP code.
Based on research and best practices from the scientific community and successful youth sports programs across the United States, it offers actionable strategies for parents, coaches, organizations, communities, and policymakers to support youth sports participation for all.
Explore the National Youth Sports Strategy
For an overview of what’s in the Strategy, check out the Executive Summary [PDF - 3.2 MB].
Learn about successful youth sports programs in the National Youth Sports Strategy Bright Spots:
- Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy: Going to Bat for Inner-City Youth [PDF - 2.6MB]
- OSU LiFEsports: Reaching Vulnerable Youth Through Summer Sports [PDF - 1.5MB]
- Girls on the Run: Helping Girls Find Their Path [PDF - 842.1KB]
- The YMCA: Engaging Youth Across the Nation [PDF - 457.1KB]
- Saturday Night Lights: Lighting the Way for Young Athletes [PDF - 3.1MB]
- Special Olympics Unified Sports®: Promoting Social Inclusion Through Sports [PDF - 839.2KB]
Read the Top 10 Things to Know About the National Youth Sports Strategy
- The National Youth Sports Strategy is the first federal roadmap with actionable strategies to increase participation in youth sports, increase awareness of the benefits of youth sports participation, monitor and evaluate youth sports participation, and recruit and engage volunteers in youth sports programming.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed the National Youth Sports Strategy in response to Presidential Executive Order 13824, which called for a national strategy to increase youth sports participation.
- According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, youth ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Playing sports is one way youth can get the physical activity they need. Sports also provide opportunities for youth to experience the connection between effort and success, and may enhance their academic, economic, social, and health prospects.
- Regular physical activity has many benefits for youth. Youth sports participation provides benefits beyond those associated with physical activity, including benefits for psychosocial health and academic achievement. Benefits for youth include:
- Higher levels of self-esteem and confidence in their abilities
- Reduced risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Improved life skills, such as goal setting, time management, and work ethic
- Opportunities to develop social and interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and relationship building
- Improved concentration, memory, school attendance, and academic performance
- Although there are some risks associated with youth sports, such as injury and stress, research shows that the benefits outweigh the risks. The National Youth Sports Strategy includes several strategies to help reduce risks and negative outcomes.
- Not all youth have the same opportunity to participate in sports, which results in varying participation rates across demographic groups. This means that youth have unequal access to the health, psychosocial, and academic benefits of youth sports participation. HHS developed the National Youth Sports Strategy to address these disparities and the related barriers in order to improve youth sports participation and access.
- The National Youth Sports Strategy aims to unify U.S. sports culture around a shared vision: that one day all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability, or ZIP code.
- Everyone has a role to play in improving the youth sports culture in the United States.
- Youth can try a variety of sports to find the ones they really enjoy.
- Adults can promote learning over competition and create safe, fun, inclusive opportunities for youth to participate in sports.
- Organizations can provide accessible and inclusive youth sports programming.
- Communities can support collaborations that increase youth sports opportunities.
- Public agencies can develop policies and provide funding for youth sports opportunities.
- HHS plans to help increase youth sports participation by coordinating dialogue and collaboration between youth sports stakeholders, promoting youth sports messaging, measuring youth sports participation, and funding grants that support youth sports programs.
- As part of the National Youth Sports Strategy, the HHS Office of Minority Health and the Office on Women’s Health have awarded over $6.7 million in grants to 18 communities to promote youth participation in organized sports.