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UK Sports Participation market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Sports Participation market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this Report

Mintel’s definition of ‘participation sports’ is based on that set out by Sport England, which states that “the purpose of the activity must be sporting and not a means to another purpose” and that it “must have an established structure, defined by rules, and where appropriate, organised national or international competition”.

Mintel’s interpretation of the second element of this extends to the inclusion of athletic activities undertaken for fitness rather than competitive purposes, such as aerobics and/or weight training in a gym, and which are therefore less formally structured in terms of their rules and organisation, but which still have an accepted means of or basis for participation.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel’s definition of ‘sport’ includes all activities listed below, which have been grouped under four key typologies for the purposes of discussion throughout the Report:

Individual/keep-fit sports:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Weight training/gym
  • Aerobics/fitness classes
  • Yoga/Pilates
  • Athletics/running

Team/competitive sports:

  • Football
  • Golf
  • Cricket
  • Basketball
  • Rugby (union/league)
  • Volleyball
  • Hockey

Racquet sports:

  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Table tennis
  • Squash

Outdoor/alternative sports:

  • Hiking/rambling
  • Fishing
  • Climbing
  • Skiing/snowboarding
  • Watersports (eg windsurfing, canoeing)
  • Martial arts (eg karate, kung fu)
  • Action sports (eg BMX, skateboarding)
  • Fencing

This Report assesses the UK market, with a particular focus on England in some parts, given the nature of the data available.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by David Walmsley, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Fitness is both the main driver of participation in sport and the principal barrier to taking part. Successful providers need therefore to articulate the fitness benefits of their activities while allaying the fears of potential newcomers that they are not fit enough to join in. David Walmsley
Senior Leisure Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Sport a regular fixture for most
              • Figure 1: Sport participation*, November 2015-November 2016
            • Strong core supports value growth
              • Figure 2: Forecast of consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2012-22
            • Fitness sports in best condition
              • Figure 3: Most popular sports, by participation rate*, November 2015-November 2016
            • Tennis courts net new investment
              • Figure 4: Top 10 types of registered sports facilities in England, August 2017
            • The consumer
              • Participation rates bounce back
                • Figure 5: Participation in sport (net), June 2014-July 2017
              • Hiking and weights make strongest gains
                • Figure 6: Sports most commonly played in the last 12 months, June 2014-July 2017
              • Playing for fitness – but also for fun
                • Figure 7: Motivations for playing sport, July 2017
              • A mental barrier of physical fitness
                • Figure 8: Barriers to participation in sport, July 2017
              • Spectator sports connect with players
                • Figure 9: Interest in spectator sport, July 2017
              • What we think
              • Issues and Insights

                • Is everyone fit enough to play?
                  • The facts
                    • The implications
                      • What opportunities can the rise of hiking create?
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                            • Sport a regular fixture for most participants
                              • Strong core supports spending growth
                                • Fitness sports set the pace
                                  • Sports fund more facilities
                                    • More groups to help get more people active
                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                      • Sport a regular fixture for the majority taking part
                                        • Figure 10: Sport participation*, November 2015-November 2016
                                      • Strong core supports value growth
                                        • Figure 11: Consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2012-22
                                      • Forecast
                                        • Figure 12: Forecast of consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2012-22
                                      • Forecast methodology
                                      • Market Segmentation

                                        • Fitness sports in best condition
                                            • Figure 13: Most popular sports, by participation rate*, November 2015-November 2016
                                        • Market Drivers

                                          • Tennis courts net new investment
                                              • Figure 14: Top 10 types of registered sports facilities in England, August 2017
                                            • Government widens participation in widening participation
                                                • Figure 15: Sport England funding of national governing bodies of sports, 2017-21
                                              • More affluent players lock in participation rates
                                                • Figure 16: Current financial situation compared to a year ago, by financial situation, January 2017
                                              • Wellbeing gains boost health of sport
                                                • Technology making sport more social
                                                    • Figure 17: Sources of content shared on social and media networks other than users' own content, March 2017
                                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                  • Grassroots sport caught on camera
                                                    • Avatar athletes setting the pace
                                                      • A new strategy for swimming
                                                      • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                        • Playing for clips
                                                          • Running tracked
                                                            • A long-distance triathlon
                                                              • Cricket aims to bowl over children – and mums
                                                                • Team games for individuals
                                                                • Governing Bodies

                                                                    • Swim England
                                                                      • UK Athletics
                                                                        • British Cycling
                                                                          • The FA
                                                                            • R&A
                                                                              • Lawn Tennis Association
                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                • Participation rates recover recent losses
                                                                                  • Hiking and weights make strongest gains
                                                                                    • Playing for fitness – but also for fun
                                                                                      • A mental barrier of physical fitness
                                                                                        • Spectator sports connect with players
                                                                                        • Sport Participants

                                                                                          • Participation rates bounce back
                                                                                              • Figure 18: Participation in sport (net), June 2014-July 2017
                                                                                            • A less physical challenge to revive old interest
                                                                                                • Figure 19: Non-participants in sport, July 2017
                                                                                            • Sports Played

                                                                                              • Hikers stride forward and weightlifters power up
                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Sports most commonly played in the last 12 months, June 2014-July 2017
                                                                                                • Fitness focus continues to dominate
                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Types of sports played, July 2017
                                                                                              • Motivations for Play

                                                                                                • Fun v fitness?
                                                                                                    • Figure 22: Motivations for playing sport, July 2017
                                                                                                  • Or fitness + fun?
                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Repertoire of motivations for playing sport, July 2017
                                                                                                • Barriers to Participation

                                                                                                  • Revival of the unfittest
                                                                                                      • Figure 24: Barriers to participation in sport, July 2017
                                                                                                    • Personal is best for clearing high hurdle of fitness
                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Sources of inspiration for participation in sport, July 2017
                                                                                                    • Spectators and Players

                                                                                                      • Participants switch to sofas and stands
                                                                                                        • Figure 26: Interest in spectator sport, July 2017
                                                                                                      • Heroes’ halo effect lasts into older age
                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Interest in spectator sport, by experience of participation in sport, July 2017
                                                                                                      • Social channels open a path to participation for potentials
                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Discussion of sport on social media, by experience of participation in sport, July 2017
                                                                                                    • Appendix

                                                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                          • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                              • Figure 29: Forecast of consumer expenditure on sports participation, 2017-22