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We are a 200+ strong swim club, grown from 150 18 months ago. Of the active membership, only about 40 swimmers compete regularly, whereas our stated rationale is that we are a 'competitive swim club'.
Bear in mind that approximately 60 are still in a post swim lesson, teaching part of the club leaving about 140 members who could / should be competing.
We are looking to find out from the membership (swimmers and parents) why they do not take the opportuities to compete (either internally or externally) and why people would not want to swim for the club in team galas and my question to the community is do you have any examples of what we might ask them (2 separate questionnaires - one for swimmers & one for parents) that we might pull together to reset what we are trying to do.
No suggestions will be ignored.
I'm the Research Officer at UK Coaching. Sounds really interesting what you are trying to find out. I would say that it depends how your club is set up may determine who you attract to the club. For example, a club that is set up with a strict competitive structure may attract a different person compared to a club that is aimed more at participation. Those who are attracted to more of a participatory club that has a less stringent comp structure may be there for the taking part, having fun etc. and be less inclined to compete.
Depending on how many responses you expect, you might be best using Google forms fo your questionnaires. Although the free version only allows you 100 responses I think. Survey Monkey is another alternative.
I would ask open questions to get richer answers. I would ask what their motivations are for being at the club. If they do not compete, ask why they choose not to, and if they intend to. I would also ask those that compete why do they compete (what motivates them to compete). You might also ask if they have competed in anything else before (perhaps those that have, have a different motivational driver compared to those who have not).
In terms of asking parents, similar questions around motivations (as often they have had conversations with their children about why they take part), and would also ask the parents what they think their child is getting out of the sessions, would they like to see their child compete (why, why not?), maybe also what is their sporting background? Often parents who lack confidence can result in their own children lacking confidence.
Hope that helps!
Thanks, Anne-Marie, gives us a starting pint. Our thoughts were to do the swimmers poolside with their questions and then to get parents to do their responses on line afterwards to try to elicit unprompted answers from the youngsters :).
I appreciate the response, thank you.
Ah ok, that sounds like a good plan. No problem. Good luck. Would be great to hear how you get on
There are many topics to discuss in your question. I'll try to make a brief comment on each one.
Firstly I find that young people are more interested in skills acquisition and having fun rather than compete. This seems to be more prevalent with girls than boys. So what your club is experiencing may be just part of a general trend.
For the survey, I suggest you have separate surveys and questions for those that are competitive, others, and their parents as their interests and motivations might all be different.
Google forms is a great tool. It is very easy to use and Google generates nicely formatted reports. Google Forms can also generate a spreadsheet and using the Explore option (click bottom right) you can get more insights in subsets of the data.
Respect respondents privacy. Don't ask for identifying information, but do give people the option to provide contact details in case they have questions that they like you to respond to directly.
To maximise the response rate, don't have too many questions, and don't make them compulsory - except for a few that help you to categorize responses such as age, gender, and time with the club. For every question, ask yourself "what action will the club take if they rate this issue high/low etc"
Keep the questions simple, preferably so they can be answered with a single click. So use scales with easy to interpret values e.g. "how interesting are your coaching sessions?" 1=boring, 5=gets us pumped.
Also download https://info.genroe.com/maximise-your-survey-response-rate . You'll find some useful tips in there.
I don't know much about swimming, but will be happy to give you a hand with the survey, review your questions etc. So let me know if you like a hand with this.
Many years ago, our volleyball club instituted a 'house league' for younger kids in the hopes of bringing in lots of kids who would (perhaps) enjoy our main competitive stream. It was very successful with 80 kids signing up in each of 3 x 8 week sessions per year. Well, at the next season's tryouts, we planned to have three 14U coaches instead of one that we normally planned for because we were sure the house league participants would come out in droves. Nope, they didn't. But the house league continues to be an enormous success with full sessions time and time again. Turns out, these families want to 'sample' lots of sports and committing to one sport, especially a competitive sport', consumes too much of the year and 8-week sessions at a lower cost and a lower commitment level were exactly what they wanted. Many of these families signed up for consecutive sessions so they definitely loved the sport but cutting the season into 8-week commitments and zero travel time and costs were something they looked for in their lives and the lives of their children. Some folks (including me) are fearful of early competitive pressures and so they shy away from such activities. Perhaps the swimming club needs to begin offering two distinct programs and see if there is a demand for a program that's more intramural in nature.
Many thanks, Jacob.
Some super thoughts.
We concentrate on technique and skills across all of our groups from our most novice ones to our National squad and your offer of help with setting things / analysis may well be one I take you up on.
Our AGM tonight so we may know a bit more tonight :).
Many thanks for taking the time to respond.
Yes, two strands is one of the options we are considering with the difficulty being how to make it possible to transition across both streams if circumstances change, eg during exams periods.
Because we are year round with ever rising pool hire costs I doubt we would be able to offer short term 'contracts' as a membership option , owing to needing certainty of income across the whole year.
However there are a number of points you make that we will definitely be considering.
I'll take off my coach's hat and just speak from the business side for a moment. I come from a retail background where my customers didn't give a hoot about my business problems (such as year-round costs). My job was to serve the needs of my customers or they WILL go somewhere else where they have figured out how to satisfy them. I told all my employees, "Never give the customer a reason to try someone else". In the case of youth sports clubs, there are many sports to choose from and so I would suggest working with your membership to design programs that both support their needs while making sure your club remains financially viable. Have you worked with a group of diverse parents, not just the ones who believe what you believe? They might just tell you where the 'pinch points' are and help you design better programs. Sometimes these suggestions will feel like they are going against the philosophy of the club and that there might not be coaches currently in the club who would enthusiastically embrace them but trying out a few of these projects might just open up a whole new area and 'widen the base' of participants so the organization is more stable over the long run. Regards,
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