Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31515
An Investigation into the Social Factors that Influence Sport Participation: A Case of Gymnastics in the Western Cape

Authors: W. C. Lucas, S. Titus, M. E. M. Young


Gymnastics is the umbrella term that represents seven different and unique disciplines of gymnastics. Men and women of all ages and abilities practice this sport, and participation in gymnastics can develop both gross and fine motor skills, strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. There are various social factors, such as a family’s socioeconomic status or accessibility to sports facilities that may play a role in affecting levels of participation. The aim of this study is to investigate the social factors that have an influence on gymnastics participation in the Western Cape. To this end, a qualitative approach is adopted to collect data. This study also adopts the ecological systems theory as the theoretical framework, and is used to analyze and interpret current social factors that directly or indirectly influence participation in gymnastics. The study’s objectives were to ascertain which social factors hinder participation, and which social factors promote participation, thus, coaches, parents and gymnasts participated in focus group discussions. Key informant interviews took place with experts in the field of gymnastics in the Western Cape. A thematic analysis was conducted on transcriptions from the focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Social factors investigated in this study occurred in the chronosystem, macrosystem, exosystem, mesosystem, and microsystem, and had both a direct and indirect influence on the gymnast’s continued participation. These systems are defined as the environment of the individual, in which they grow and develop. The research findings of this paper are used to draw conclusions and make specific recommendations for practice and further research. The information gathered in this study can assist all stakeholders within the field of gymnastics, such as parents, judges, coaches, gymnasts, and the supporting community which surround the participating gymnast.

Keywords: Developing child, ecological systems theory, facilities, federation, gymnastics, influence, participation, social factors, socioeconomic status, sport.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1973


[1] History of Modern Gymnastics. (2014, January) Retrieved November 2015, 15, from Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique: Accessed on 18/09/2015
[2] Sands, W.A., (1999). Why Gymnastics? Technique, Vol 19, No 3.
[3] Dowdell T (2011). “Benefits of gymnastics participation for school-aged children”. Unublished Manuscript
[4] Gymnastics. (2014, January 24). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from New World Encyclopedia: Accessed on 12/01/2014
[5] Department of Health. (2010). Healthy lives, healthy people: Our strategy for public health in England (Vol. 7985).
[6] Coelho, J. (2010). Gymnastics and Movement Instruction: fighting the decline in motor fitness. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 81(1),14-18.
[7] Donham-Foutch, S. (2007). Teaching skills and health-related fitness through a preservice
[8] Janssen, I., & LeBlanc, A. (2010). Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. The International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7, 40. PubMed doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-40.
[9] Mota, J. & Silva, G. (1999). Adolescent’s Physical Activity: Association with Socio-Economic Status and Parental Participation Among a Portuguese Sample, Sport, Education and Society, 4:2, 193-199, DOI: Accessed 23/10/2015
[10] Moore MJ, & Werch CE, Sport and physical activity participation and substance use among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 36, Issue 6, June 2005, Pages 486–493.
[11] Carr, S., & Weigand, D. A. (2001). Parental, peer, teacher and sporting hero influence on the goal orientations of children in physical education. European Physical Education Review, 7(3), 305-328.
[12] Sallis, J. F., & Owen, N. (1998). Physical activity and behavioral medicine (Vol. 3). SAGE publications.
[13] Van Hout, R.C.H., Young, M.E.M., Bassett, S.H. & Hooft, T. (2013). Participation in sport and the perceptions of quality of life of high school learners in the Theewaterskloof Municipality, South Africa. African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance, 19(3), 612-622
[14] Kamphuis, C.B.; Van Lenthe, F.J.; Giskes, K.; Huisman, M.; Brug, J.; Mackenbach, J.P. (2008). Socioeconomic status, environmental and individual factors, and sports participation. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise (2008) 40(1): 71-81
[15] Sallis, J. F. & Patrick, K. (2010). Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents: Consensus Statement. PES, 6(4).
[16] Anfara, V.A. & Mertz, N. T. (Eds.). (2006). Theoretical Frameworks in Qualitative Research. Sage
[17] Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[18] Paquette, D. & Ryan, J. (2001). Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory. Retrieved July 18, 2004.
[19] Hesse-Biber, S. N., & Leavy, P. (Eds). (2010). The practice of qualitative research. Sage Publications pg. 5
[20] Tongco, M.D.C. (2007). Purposive sampling as a tool for informant selection. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 5:147-158.
[21] Palys, T. (2008). Purposive sampling. In L. M. Given (Ed.) The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. (Vol.2). Sage: Los Angeles, pp. 697-8.
[22] Flick, U. (2002). An introduction to qualitative research (2nd Ed). London: Sage Publishers.
[23] Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative research. Introducing focus groups. BMJ: British medical journal, 311(7000), 299.
[24] Clarke, V. & Braun, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in Psychology Qualitative Research in Psychology, Volume 3, Issue 2, 2006 pg77-101
[25] Berk, L.E. (2000). Child Development (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 23-38
[26] Kline, C., McGehee, N. G., Paterson, S., & Tsao, J. (2012). Using ecological systems theory and density of acquaintance to explore resident perception of entrepreneurial climate. Journal of Travel Research, 0047287512465962.
[27] Sands W.A.; McNeal, J.R.; Jemni, M. & Penitente, G. (2011). Thinking sensibly about injury prevention and safety. Science of Gymnastics Journal (2011) Vol. 3 Issue 3: 43– 58.
[28] Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. American Academy of Paediatrics (2007) Volume 119, Number 1, January 2007
[29] Maralack, D., (2014). Chapter 11: Country Report: South Africa in De Coning C & Keim M (Eds) Sport and Development Policy in Africa – Results of a collaborative study of selected country cases. 2nd Edition, pp. 96-113.