2021 Trends in Youth Sports - During and Post Pandemic - iSport360
1/19/2021

2021 Trends in Youth Sports – During and Post Pandemic

What are some of the trends in youth sports for 2021? In 2020, we saw unprecedented change in youth sports from shutdowns, to a move to virtual training, to mask wearing and more. The shutdowns caused massive concern amongst parents that their child would have mental health issues by not playing. Based on an Aspen Institute/Utah State University Survey in June 2020, 87.1% of parents surveyed said that they felt the benefits of playing sports were mental health and physical health. This is big and as coaches of youth sports teams, we know that mental health has been at the forefront of parent concerns.

Sports have become one of the only outlets for children to see others, have fun, better their mental well-being and get physically fit. Sports provide all those life lessons that as parents and coaches, we all love. 

In 2021, we expect more of the same for the first few months with a gradual change to more flexibility as the year progresses and the vaccine is more common. 

Generation Zoom

Technology will be a big part of how coaches, parents, and players interact with each other. With changes to in-person school and limitations on in-person practice, players across the country have experienced using zoom for meetings, school and practice. Across most youth sports, the State of Play Report states that there was an increase in virtual training. In a recent blog post, iSport360 focused on this new rising generation.

Free Play

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been an increase in free play. This included biking, running around in your backyard and in the neighborhood. This has been driven by parents feeling more comfortable when their kids stay close to home. We wrote about this in a recent blog post about Stephen Curry demonstrating the games we are playing at home. Expect to see this continue in 2021. 

At Home Workouts

There has been an increase in working out at home. Creation of the home gym, using speed and agility ladders, low weights, and one of the most popular – jump rope are all on the rise. Apps, Youtube and Instagram usage are on the rise. These free and easy to use platforms have provided easy to use resource for working out at home.

Parents Watching Competition

We do not think there will be a continued ban on spectators for the entire year. We do expect that the indoor sports season will see a continued ban on spectators in certain parts of the US through the beginning of the Spring. This has to do with limiting exposure and managing the indoor facility occupancy rates. 

Mask wearing Indoors and Outdoors

Masks will be worn most of the year. This can also be based on certain geographies that are more strict than others. When moving outdoors in the Spring, we expect to see masks worn to and from practice but likely not during live play. 

Increase in Spend for Youth Sports

Making up for lost time, we expect there to be an increase in youth sports spend and participation. With COVID restrictions possibly decreasing in the Spring, youth sports spending will bounce back. Parents quickly and aggressively sign kids up for activities to get them back to being active. In the State of Play report, 28% of parents stated that they would spend more post pandemic. Citing that parents are concerned about the health and mental well being sports helps to manage. 

Push for Underserved Communities

There will continue to be efforts to bring expensive sports like ice hockey and lacrosse, to kids in underserved communities. More and more sports are looking to grow their base and will start to move into underserved communities.

Growth in Technology for Coaches

New platforms and technology are giving coaches easy to use ways to help stay connected. Platforms that use communication tools allow coaches to communicate with players. Other platforms that use video or practice assignment sharing are helping coaches empower players. All of these tools help players stay active when away from practice.

Failure of Indoor Sports Facilities and Sports Organizations

Sports facilities and sports organizations will shut down. This is a result of the impact of the pandemic. Ongoing closures have caused long term pauses in play that are pulling people away from organized sports and the use of facilities.

Growth of youth sports insurance policies

We expect a growth in sports insurance companies that protect both the sports organization and families. There is an increase of insuring your purchase from your registration fee, similar to insuring your travel or car.


What do you think of our list? Did we miss any trends that you are seeing in your area? Check out iSport360 and see what we are doing to help players, coaches, sports organizations stay connected.

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