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5 Ideas to Recruit New Participants To Your Sport

Last weekend I worked with a provincial sport organization who was refreshing their strategic plan and discussing their operational plan for the upcoming year. Like most organizations I’ve worked with, they were keen to increase the number of people who participate in their sport. We discussed how they could increase promotions and bring more people to their sport. This was an exciting conversation and we brainstormed a lot of different ideas. Here are 5 ideas of things a sport organization could try to recruit new participants to their sports.

Switching Up the Format

It’s become a lot more common to adapt sports in order to ensure children participate in a developmentally appropriate way. This means adapting the rules or using different equipment to accommodate their smaller limb size, strength, developing coordination, etc. This is also something that can be done for adults! A shorter length of race, less time in competition, different equipment, and a smaller field of play. This may not be traditional, but we should consider making adjustments if it means that the sport feels more accessible and this brings new people in to participate.

Encourage Multi-Generational Participation

Offer opportunities where participants from different generations can participate. This could be a parent-tot class. Or maybe a competition where families can participate together or compete against each other. Who hasn’t enjoyed a parents vs kids competition? Family members could also be incorporated into the elements surrounding the sport experience. Could you host a watch party of international competition? A festival experience with music, food, and other games could recruit new participants to your sport.

Running New Programming at Universities

Have you offered opportunities to try your sport at colleges and universities? This could be particularly effective in Saskatchewan where a large segment of the population lives in rural communities. After graduation, people who move to cities to attend universities are trying to get settled into their new communities. The experience can be overwhelming! You could reach new people who are looking to build their community, stay active, and manage stress, as well as those who never had an opportunity to try your sport. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Adult Learn to Play Programs

As adults, there are not a lot of opportunities to try new sports and receive introductory instruction. I, for one, love to try new sports! But most of the time, jumping straight into a league or ongoing program is your only option. I’d much prefer to be taught the rules, the basic skills, and the tactical basics. Otherwise, I’m going to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. And I might be unsafe to myself and others. Offering learn to play opportunities allows adults to try a sport in a safe, inclusive, and welcoming way. If we set new adults up for success, they’ll be more likely to enjoy their experience and stay registered for the long term.

Offer Training Partnerships with Other Sports

I’ve seen some sports form a partnership with other sports to offer training opportunities for each other. It’s a fun cross-training opportunity. It can be a social experience amongst your group. But it can also be a subtle suggestion as an alternative to their first sport. Participants may realize they like your sport more! Or, if they decide to leave that sport, they may sign up for yours next.

What ideas have you tried to recruit new participants to your sport? What has worked and what wasn’t so successful? Share your ideas with me.

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