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Youth Sports Year in Review 2021 – Top 4 Predictions for 2022

Well here we are, our top 4 trends from 2021 and our 2022 predictions. While we still were dealing with Covid in certain parts of the country, we were also adapting to how we could live and play sports with it. The impact it is having on the players will be felt for a few more years. 

As we move forward, we see silver linings in all of these predictions. 

year in review

Youth Sports Mental Health

Sports mental health has been a topic of discussion for years however it is a new topic for youth sports and was further brought to the forefront due to the Covid pandemic. During the pandemic, there was an elevated level of depression, as reported by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. They go on to say: 

Approximately one-fourth of respondents reported elevated depression scores during the pandemic — 28.3% identified as mild, moderate, or severe, while 22.2% reported some degree of anxiety. The analysis showed that elevated depression scores were significantly associated with increasing age, fewer years played, decreased hours of sleep, and sport specialization.  

Prediction for 2022 – Youth sports will further support mental health with services aimed to support both players, parents and coaches. 

Player Development and Retention

When you have a pause in youth sports, it causes coaches and clubs to rethink what is important. This can mean what events are we going to, what are we doing at practice and how we can engage and retain players. The youth sport athlete has changed and this generation needs more focus on player development and retention in sport. 

There has been a lot of technology sprouting up that is focused on the player. New technology that aims at helping athletes develop both on and off the field will continue to take hold in 2022. From our own iSport360, to CoachUp, to SafeSport and Mojo, these tools are helping all youth sports athletes from all sports.

Prediction for 2022 – Player development and player retention will continue to grow and will be a discussion topic throughout the youth sports industry. We expect more tools, like our very own, iSport360 to be part of every youth sports team. 

Sports in the Age of Covid

Covid continued to impact sports and may have changed them forever. While some areas saw continued limitations on games, events and school sports, other areas were full steam ahead. Some areas were trying to figure out how to have a full tournament while others were locked down or couldn’t go over state lines to participate. It was a confusing and frustrating time for parents, players, coaches, event organizers and clubs. 

Many organizations stopped playing sports for 1 season which caused many athletes to drop the sport. When a group of players drop a sport in middle school, it means they won’t pick it back up thus reducing the overall number of players for that sport. 

Prediction for 2022 – Youth sports will continue to adapt to what is happening but the big change will be that instead of shutting down, youth sports will just adapt to the change. This adaptation will further increase player retention for specific sports. 

Ref Shortage

The referee shortage has been going on for years but in 2021 it came full circle and gained national press attention. The shortage has impacted every sport from ice hockey to baseball to lacrosse to football. 

Referees are leaving the sport in droves. The causes snowballed in 2021 from aging referees to Covid concerns or low pay.  The most widely mentioned – parents and coaches behaving poorly, yelling at referees. It just wasn’t worth it. At iSport360, we wrote about this here. It was one of the most highest clicked articles from our newsletter in 2021.

Prediction for 2022 – We will continue to see umpire/referee shortages across many sports. We also predict that many organizations will start to work together to combat the shortage. One solution we believe will start to happen is getting youth sports athletes to work as referees.

At iSport360, we are excited to get back on the field of play after a much needed week off. Do you know a club that needs to focus on player development? Have them check us out. Maybe you are that club that needs a partner, take a look at our product demo for player evaluations. It is super easy to use and gives you a good feel for what we do and how we do it. 

Happy 2022! We are looking forward to helping players, parents, coaches and clubs make youth sports better. 

Learn more or request a demo of our youth sports software that is helping teams improve communication, organization and player development.

January 4, 2022

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