Improving reflective evaluations of sport through repeated experiences of fun-rationale, design, feasibility, and acceptability of the PlayFit Youth Sport Program

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pilot and feasibility studies








Adherence; Affect; Emotion; Intervention development; Motivation; Positive youth development; Sport attrition


INTRODUCTION: Adolescents who drop out of sport often report that it had become less 'fun' and 'enjoyable' over time. Although preadolescent sport typically emphasizes experiences of fun, emphases on competition and elite performance often dominate during adolescence. We theorized that adherence to adolescent sport might be improved if the overarching goal were to maximize repeated experiences of fun during sport and, subsequently, increase reflective evaluations of sport enjoyment. To that end, this manuscript reports on the rationale and design of the PlayFit Youth Sport Program (PYSP), as well as its preliminary feasibility and acceptability. The main objectives were to evaluate the feasibility of recruitment strategies and data collection procedures and the acceptability of the intervention. SETTING: An outdoor, multipurpose grass field at a south-central Pennsylvania middle school. METHODS: A mixed-methods, single-arm feasibility trial lasting for 8 weeks (August-October 2021) offered 3-times per week for 1-h per session. The equipment, ruleset, and psychosocial environment of the PYSP sport games were modified to reduce several of the constraints theorized to impair experiences of fun during sport and hamper reflective evaluations of enjoyment afterward. RESULTS: Eleven healthy, but sedentary adolescents in grades 5-7 completed the program. The median number of sessions attended (of 16 possible) was 12 (range = 6-13). Post-intervention, 9/10 respondents indicated that they 'looked forward' to the PYSP, 8/10 would recommend it to a friend, and 8/10 were interested in continuing the program. Ten of 11 participant guardians expressed interest in reenrolling their children if the PYSP were offered again. Some changes recommended were to improve recruitment via advertising the positive aspects of the program and "word of mouth" techniques, offering the program immediately following the school day, having contingencies for inclement weather, and minor changes to the sport equipment to improve the experience among the population the PYSP intends to attract. CONCLUSIONS: The adjustments recommended in this preliminary work could be used to further refine the PYSP. A future efficacy trial could explore whether the PYSP may reduce attrition for adolescents who experience existing sport programs negatively by offering an alternative that better matches their unique needs and preferences.


Exercise and Nutrition Sciences