Relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, which allowed consumers to return to traditional activities in 2021, were reflected in the ten segments tracked for the 2022 edition of the National Sporting Goods Association’s (NSGA) U.S. Sports Participation report.

The report shows participation increased in three categories, four decreased and three remained relatively flat compared to 2020.

Growth segments, according to NSGA’s Total Participation Points measure, include Indoor Sports (+7.6 percent), Individual Sports (+6.6 percent) and Fitness Activities (+1.7 percent). Segments declining include Shooting Sports (-6.6 percent), Personal Contact Sports (-4.5 percent) and Wheel Sports (-3.2 percent). Remaining relatively flat were Snow Sports (-0.1 percent), Outdoor Sports (-0.3 percent), Team Sports (-0.6 percent), and Open Water Sports (-0.6 percent).

“It was not a surprise to see the recovery of some segments in 2021 as people became more accustomed to living with COVID-19,” said Nick Rigitano, NSGA director of insights and analysis. “People were able to return to some of their typical exercise routines, indoor pools and bowling centers, and that was reflected in the three segments, which showed growth after a year of decline in 2020. Team Sports declined just slightly in 2021 after experiencing a significant decline of -6.4 percent in 2020.”

Rigitano added, “Some of the segments that declined showed significant increases a year ago, such as Wheel Sports (+15.5 percent in 2020) and Shooting Sports (+3.0). It will be interesting to see how these areas trend in the upcoming years.”

The increase in the Indoor Sports segment was driven by increases in billiards/pool, dart throwing and table tennis. Individual sports saw rebounds in bowling and swimming and the continued growth of pickleball at plus-25 percent. Fitness Activities saw increases in exercise walking and exercising with equipment, offset by a slight decrease in running/jogging and a continued decline in working out at a club, gym or fitness studio.

The team sports category remained relatively flat and saw softball and volleyball increase and bounce back to near pre-pandemic levels. Those gains were offset by declines in baseball, basketball and tackle football.
A decline in off-road mountain biking drove the decrease in Wheel Sports.

Decreases hurt individual contact sports in wrestling, and martial arts/MMA/Taekwondo and shooting sports were negatively impacted by declines in target archery and hunting with firearms.

The report tracks 56 sports and recreational activities with this year’s cardio fitness and strength training additions.