Check out our summaries of trends in the participation rates of the Top 10 sports for high school men and women in the US.

Men's High School

US Men high school sports participation 2018-19

Key Insights 

  • Football has lost more than 77,000 participants in the last 5 years, but is still the most popular sport…by far. 
  • Track and Field continues to grow at a modest pace, despite overall sports participation being down for the year.
  • More schools offer basketball than any other sport, followed by Track and Baseball.
  • Soccer and Cross Country grew by 26K and 18K participants over the last 5 years respectively.


Top 10 Men's High School Sports

2018-19 Growth/Decline
# SportSchools Participants 1-Year5-Year
2Track & Field17,052605,3540.9%4.6%
6Cross Country15,632269,295-0.3%7.3%
10Swim / Dive7,704136,638-1.7%-0.3%


Data comes from the NFHS Annual High School Participation Survey. Football refers to 11-man tackle football only.


Women's High School

US Women high school sports participation 2018-19

Key Insights 

  • Track & Field had the most participants every year last decade.
  • Volleyball added over 6,000 participants last year, the most of any top 10 sport
  • Soccer has continued its steady climb and may move to #3 next year.
  • Basketball declined significantly the last 2 years, but more schools still offer basketball than any other sport.
  • Competitive Spirit was flat last year, but skyrocketed the previous 4 years.


Top 10 Women's High School Sports

2018-19 Growth/Decline
# SportSchoolsParticipants1-Year5-Year
1Track & Field17,012 488,267-0.1%2.0%
4Soccer12,107394,105 0.9%4.9%
6 Cross Country15,435219,345-1.9%-1.0%
8Swim / Dive8,007173,088-1.4%3.7%
9Comp. Spirit7,214161,358-0.8%28.3%


Data comes from the NFHS Annual High School Participation Survey. Track and Field only includes outdoor participation and Softball refers to Fast Pitch only.