Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

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

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Overview

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

          • The market
            • No change in frequent player base
              • Figure 1: Adult participation in sport at least twice in the previous 28 days, November 2015-November 2016 and November 2016-November 2017
            • Rising fees fuel value growth
              • Figure 2: Forecast of consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2013-23
            • Fitness focus pressures team sports
              • Figure 3: Twice-monthly adult participation in most popular sports, November 2015-November 2016 and November 2016-November 2017
            • Sports prioritise facility investment
              • Figure 4: Top 10 types of registered sports facilities in England, August 2018
            • The consumer
              • Commitment issues for the occasional player pool
                • Figure 5: Participation in sport (net), June 2014-July 2018
              • No change at top of the table
                • Figure 6: Sports most commonly played in the past 12 months, July 2016-July 2018
              • Most accessible options are right on the doorstep
                • Figure 7: Locations for sports participation, July 2018
              • Deterrents vary from sport to sport
                • Figure 8: Barriers to participation, by sport, July 2018
              • Strong support for more child’s play
                • Figure 9: Priorities for public investment in sport, July 2018
              • What we think
              • Issues and Insights

                • Sports clubs need new players, not just new members
                  • The facts
                    • The implications
                      • How can elite sport do more for grassroots growth?
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                            • No change in playing numbers
                              • Rising fees fuel value growth
                                • Fitness focus puts pressure on team sports
                                  • Sports prioritise facility investment
                                    • Public venues ripe for refurbishment
                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                      • No net gain in playing numbers
                                        • Figure 10: Adult participation in sport at least twice in the previous 28 days, November 2015-November 2016 and November 2016-November 2017
                                      • Fees lead subs in driving value growth
                                        • Figure 11: Consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2013-23
                                      • Forecast
                                        • Figure 12: Forecast of consumer expenditure on participation* in sport, 2013-23
                                      • Forecast methodology
                                      • Market Segmentation

                                        • Team sports lose out on fitness and convenience
                                            • Figure 13: Twice-monthly adult participation in most popular sports, November 2015-November 2016 and November 2016-November 2017
                                        • Market Drivers

                                          • Facility investment aims to improve as much as expand
                                              • Figure 14: Top 10 types of registered sports facilities in England, August 2018
                                            • Can public policy match ambition with provision?
                                                • Figure 15: Age of swimming pools and sports halls in England, 2018
                                              • A key role for clubs in the participation picture
                                                • Figure 16: Active* adults’ club membership rates, by sport, November 2016-November 2017
                                              • Age no barrier to volunteering
                                                  • Figure 17: Volunteering to support sport and physical activity at least twice in the last year, November 2016-November 2017
                                                • Health awareness creating pool of potentials
                                                    • Figure 18: Habits seen as important for staying healthy, August 2017
                                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                  • New athletics plan hits the ground running
                                                    • Cyclists like to own the road
                                                      • Tennis aims to be open all hours (and weathers)
                                                        • Golf chips away at duration of play
                                                          • Digital technologies putting fun back on the table
                                                          • Governing Bodies

                                                              • Swim England
                                                                • UK Athletics
                                                                  • British Cycling
                                                                    • The FA
                                                                      • R&A
                                                                        • LTA
                                                                        • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                          • Golf cuts cost by shortening rounds
                                                                            • Measuring up against Messi
                                                                              • A new type of table service
                                                                                • Swimming enjoys a long-distance romance
                                                                                  • Prescribing parkrun
                                                                                    • Parallel lines up more accessible events
                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                      • Commitment issues for the occasional player pool
                                                                                        • No change at top of the table
                                                                                          • Most accessible options are right on the doorstep
                                                                                            • Deterrents vary from sport to sport
                                                                                              • Strong support for more child’s play
                                                                                              • Sports Participants

                                                                                                • A broader focus to expand the player base
                                                                                                  • Looking beyond access and affordability
                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Participation in sport (net), June 2014-July 2018
                                                                                                  • Sports Played

                                                                                                    • No change at top of the table
                                                                                                      • Creating more casual vacancies
                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Sports most commonly played in the past 12 months, July 2016-July 2018
                                                                                                      • Participants hunger for more games
                                                                                                          • Figure 21: Repertoires of sports played, July 2018
                                                                                                      • Locations for Play

                                                                                                        • Participation peaks in the park
                                                                                                            • Figure 22: Locations for sports participation, July 2018
                                                                                                          • Half of players stay in their lane
                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Repertoires of sports participation locations, July 2018
                                                                                                        • Barriers to Participation

                                                                                                          • High hurdles pinpoint obstacles keeping more players out of the race
                                                                                                              • Figure 24: Barriers to participation, by sport, July 2018
                                                                                                          • Investment in Sport

                                                                                                            • Concern for kids unites the generations
                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Priorities for public investment in sport, July 2018
                                                                                                              • There’s no ‘I’ in team – but there is very much a ‘me’...
                                                                                                                  • Figure 26: Prioritisation* of public investment in training more volunteers in sports clubs, by type of sport played during the last year, July 2018
                                                                                                                • Elite sports losing public opinion race
                                                                                                                    • Figure 27: Prioritisation* of public investment in supporting elite athletes, by age, socio-economic status and household income, July 2018
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                      • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Forecast of consumer expenditure on participation in sport*, 2018-23