Youth athletes sleep more, practice less, and may lose interest in playing sports due to social distancing mandates

Henry B. Ellis, Sophia M. Ulman, K. John Wagner, Connor M. Carpenter, Emily B. Gale, Kevin G. Shea, Philip L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In-person sport participation was suspended across the United States in the spring of 2020 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The purpose of this study was to survey the impact of COVID-19 on young athletes during a period of social and organized sports restrictions. An anonymous cross-sectional survey study was conducted of youth athletes in the midst of social distancing mandates and consisted of six components: demographics, sport participation, changes in sport-related goals/aspirations, sleep habits, and measures of anxiety and depression. 711 individuals who accessed the survey link yielded 575 (81%) participants with responses available for analysis. All respondents (aged 13.0 years) played organized sports, 62% were single-sport athletes, and 74% considered high-level. Participants were training ∼3.3 h less per week, spending more time outside, and 86% of participants continued to train while social distancing. Sleep duration increased (∼1.2 h/night) and sleep quality improved in 29% of young athletes. Additionally, 22% and 28% reported PROMIS® anxiety and depression scores characterized as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, or ‘severe’. Older single-sport participants reported higher depression scores, while higher anxiety scores were seen in female participants with fewer years played. 10% of young athletes and 20% of teenagers changed their sports-related goals. Training style modifications, decreased training, and increased sleep quantity and quality were positive effects of COVID-19 restrictions, while athletic aspirational changes were undesirable effects. Single-sport athletes may be at greater risk for psychological symptoms when their routine is altered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101722
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Psychological Health
  • Specialization
  • Youth Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Youth athletes sleep more, practice less, and may lose interest in playing sports due to social distancing mandates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this