Emerging Sports for Teens
Seven new or emerging sports that would be interesting to teens include pickleball, ultimate Frisbee, squash, Quidditch, underwater hockey, Kronum and Supa Punt. Each of these sports can be played outdoors in the summer and match with several interests and characteristics of today's teenagers.
In order to identify emerging sports that teens may be interested in, our research team began by researching interests and characteristics of teens that might translate into sports. According to Pew Research, Generation Z includes people born between 1997 and 2012, making them 7-22 years old in 2019. Since all current teenagers are in Generation Z, we included information on the interests and characteristics of Generation Z in our research.
Our research revealed that the most popular sports among current teens include running, soccer, basketball and action sports and that they enjoy high impact/high intensity fitness activities along with aquatics. We also found that 58.6% of generation Z enjoy outdoor sports, 54.9% enjoy team sports and 41.7% enjoy individual sports. Racquet sports are more popular among Generation Z than among previous generations, at 18.1%. In addition, 78% of Generation Z males find competition to be an important element of sports. Finally, we identified that today's teens are more conservative with money, suggesting they are interested in lower-cost activities and that they enjoy reading fantasy books, such as "Harry Potter" and "Twilight." We then looked for sports that align with these interests and characteristics. We also looked for sports that are not mainstream, but were either created or brought to the U.S. in the past 10 years ("new") or have shown recent increases in popularity in the US ("emerging"). This process resulted in the identification of the seven sports outlined below.
Pickleball is one of the "fastest growing sports in America," having increased in popularity by 650% over the past six years. The sport includes elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong and can be played inside or outside. It is a paddle game played with a plastic ball filled with holes. The court is the size of a badminton court with a net that is similar to a tennis net. Pickleball can be played one-on-one or in teams of two. More information on the sport can be found on the USA Pickleball Association website. This sport would be interesting to teens because it is a high intensity activity, can be played outdoors, can be played as an individual sport or in teams and is inexpensive.
Although ultimate Frisbee has been around since 1968, participation among youth in the U.S. has been steadily increasing in recent years, with 15,792 youth members of the national governing body for the sport in 2018, up from 11,236 in 2013. Ultimate Frisbee combines elements of soccer, football and Frisbee into a single, fast-paced team sport. Players throw a Frisbee between teammates, who cannot run while holding it, but must pas it to another player. Teams score when a player catches the Frisbee in the opposing team's end zone. More information can be found on the Sport of Ultimate website. This sport would be interesting to teens because it is a high-intensity, outdoor sport that is played in teams and is low-cost.
The sport of squash is growing faster in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. The sport is emerging faster in the southeast than other parts of the country, with a 477% increase in the number of players participating in junior tournaments in this region since 2012. Squash is played as a singles game or in doubles. It is played with racquets, with players hitting a ball against the four court walls. Players attempt to continue hitting the ball against the front wall first, alternating between players, until one is unable to do so. The player who last hit the ball against the front wall wins the rally and gains a point if he or she was the server. More information can be found on the US Squash website. The sport would be interesting to teens because it is a racquet sport, is high intensity, can be played individually or in teams of two, and is competitive.
Quidditch is a real-life sport based on the sport described in the fantasy series Harry Potter. It has been growing in popularity since it was first played in 2005 and there are now 150 official Quidditch teams in the U.S. The game is played much like the game in the book and movie series, without the flying. Two teams of seven face off, carrying broomsticks, and attempt to score points by throwing a ball called the quaffle through the opposing team's hoops. Teams can also score points by capturing the snitch, which is attached to a neutral player who runs around trying not to allow the snitch to be captured. More information can be found on the US Quidditch website. The sport would be interesting to teens because it is a high-intensity, team sport played outdoors and is based on the fantasy series "Harry Potter," which is popular among this age group.
Underwater Hockey, also known as Octopush, is slowly gaining popularity in the U.S. with 700 players in 2018. Players wear snorkel gear and use one-foot-long hockey sticks to push a puck along the bottom of a seven-to-eight-foot deep swimming pool, scoring points when they successfully get the puck into the opposing team's goal. More information can be found on the Underwater Society website. This sport would be interesting to teens because it is a high-intensity, aquatic, competitive team sport.
Kronum was developed in Pennsylvania in 2006 and has undercone changes and adjustments over several years. The current format of the game was finalized in 2010, making this sport less than 10 years old. The game is played indoors or outdoors on a field of three concentric circles. Players use any part of their body to move the ball toward goals which include five rings at the top. Points are scored by getting the ball into the goal (one point) or through one of the rings (two points). More information can be found on the Kronum website. This sport would be interesting to teens because it is a competitive team sport that is high in intensity and can be played outdoors.
Supa Punt was invented in Australia in 2015, making it a very new sport. The game is played one-on-one. Players kick a ball that is shaped much like an American football in an attempt to get it over their opponent's goal line and score a point. Each time a player is in possession of the ball, he or she has seven seconds to kick it back to the opponent's side. More information can be found on the Supa Punt website. It would be interesting to teens because it is an individual competitive sport played outdoors.