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What really stops people from sports participation?

May 15, 2015 - Posted by

floorball stops

Let’s not talk about being lazy. Everyone’s lazy to some extent, we know that. General attitudes to sport are changing in the right direction though. We are getting more health-conscious and aware of our bodies, more positive about doing sport and its effect on our life. It’s a process we all can contribute to, but it’s an inevitably long process. How can your sports club get more people to participate, here and now?

What do the clubs think are the main barriers for sports participation?

As you would think, the clubs have a wide view why people don’t do sports. Well, they kind of have to know about it! Based on the study done by Eurostrategies, sports clubs think that “barriers” for sports participation boil down to these problems:

  • Cost for the participant (25%)
  • Quality or availability of infrastructure (22%)
  • Inadequate schedules (16%)

Seems reasonable enough. If it costs too much, if the facilities aren’t good enough, if there’s timing difficulties, then people probably won’t come to your club. Makes sense.

…but what do people think are the problems?

Clubs seem to have a clear idea what stops people from doing sports, but it doesn’t exactly resonate with the (mostly athlete) individuals who answered the survey. Coming from the same study, the main reasons are:

  • Lack of time (53%)
  • The cost is too high (26%)

As we can see, the potential club members and sports clubs view “the price problem” quite similarly, with 1/4 of the respondents citing it as an important problem for sports participation.

However, a whopping 53% of people think lack of time is what stops them from doing sports. From a personal point of view, it’s totally understandable – our busy days end way faster than we realize. Sports clubs don’t really mention it as much of a problem though.

Where does the difference come from?

1. Clubs focus on kids and think they have enough time as it is

You might be thinking: “Yes, grown-ups don’t have time, but we’re focused on youth sports, ” and that might be right for a lot of cases, but not for all. The kids nowadays have endless opportunities to pass their time and their parents have endless choices for their kids’ free time activities.

Whether you’re competing with video games, flute lessons or other sports, you have to realize that there are 24 hours a day, for grown-ups and children alike. The sporting experience your club offers has to have better quality than the alternatives. When it’s fun, engaging and helps your athletes develop, they will find time for that.

2. Clubs focus more on the infrastructure more than the individuals

This is actually something to compliment the sports clubs on, because it means you hold your training quality in high regard. Great job and keep it up!

Individuals – your athletes and club members – don’t really have to realize the difference between a good running track and a bad one. At least not at first! It’s the club’s responsibility to offer quality service to their athletes and always look for ways to improve the infrastructure and equipment. That’s why they think infrastructure is a barrier for sports participation.

We know how bad infrastructure can cause injuries and overcrowded infrastructure hurts the quality of the training. So good job guys for keeping this on your mind, even if your future athletes don’t think of it at first!


3. Clubs are focused on groups, not on individuals…

Naturally, sports clubs don’t think how to get that one person to participate in sports, but rather how to get 50 people to participate. Focusing on that one person to join your club would be irresponsibly wasteful as you have to look at the bigger picture. This is normal.

From a club’s point of view, you have to plan and think on a bigger scale. However, a well-known business saying goes “Think globally, act locally”. Perhaps, that could be used in sports clubs as well – look at the bigger picture, but keep your actions focused on the individual.

If the problem for the individual is lack of time, you obviously can’t start rescheduling your workouts for only one person. You could, however, acknowledge their problem and try to find the best solution that takes the whole group into account.

Perhaps taking in more members and splitting the group into two is an option? When there’s a will, there’s a way!

Got any more ideas how to tackle the time issue and get more people involved in sports? Let us know in the comments!


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