Children who play football are four times as likely to have a large group of friends than those who enjoy tennis or cricket, according to new research.
A study by telecoms giant BT found that soccer was the most sociable sport among youngsters, with three out of four having at least 17 friends.
Just 13% of gymnasts and cricketers had a similar number of friends, rising to 15% among tennis players and 16% of martial arts and netball players.
The second most sociable sport was found to be swimming, according to research among 2,300 adults to mark BT's Coaching for Life educational programme.
The study also found that most parents wanted their children to take part in sports and outdoor pursuits rather than watching TV or playing computer games.
Julie Hindley, BT's community investment manager, said: "Sports play a really beneficial role in children's lives and can make a big difference in terms of health, wellbeing and performance in other areas of life.
"As a sustainability partner to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BT is encouraging parents and carers to help children try different sports together by introducing parents to key coaching principles they can adopt to help children get better at anything they tackle with the Coaching for Life programme.
"Whether your child belongs to every club going or just enjoys playing with friends in the park, it's important they get plenty of physical activity.
"Sports don't just have to be restricted to school or after school clubs. Parents need to make the most of their weekends and get involved with sports with their kids, and use the skills learnt through sport as a way of educating children about other areas of life."