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How to Increase Participation in Athletics at Your School

Posted by Tim Smith in Schools on December 27, 2018

Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics


If you’re a coach, athletic director, or any other member of school faculty with an interest in increasing athletic participation at your school, you may be wondering how you can do so. How can you encourage kids and their parents to join up, and participate in more school athletics programs?

If your athletics participation rates are low, or you’re otherwise struggling to get students involved in athletics, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the best tips you can use to increase participation in school athletics.


Winning - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

1. Try to Develop a Winning Program – or at Least a Competitive One

If your team loses every event, game, or meet that it participates in, this is going to take a toll on team spirit – and a vicious cycle will occur, where talented athletes may choose to leave the team altogether. They may even join club teams that are not affiliated with your school, to ensure that they can participate in a more competitive program.

As you lose top talent, your results will suffer – and the cycle will continue. So it’s important to break this cycle at the source. We know that developing a winning sports program is not as easy as just snapping your fingers – but your staff should make it a point to try to be competitive, and provide talented athletes with an opportunity to show off their skills.


Coaches - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

2. Choose the Right Coaches

Kids don’t want to feel intimidated or afraid of their coaches. So while it’s important to try to develop a competitive, winning program, it’s equally important to make sure you hire coaches who can do this in a healthy way.

Your coaches need to be supporting your students and helping them improve, not criticizing them or treating them poorly. A culture of intimidation can lead to students quitting athletics programs, and increased stress.

So try to make sure your coaching staff understands that the goal of your sports program should be more than just to win – it’s to help build up each student, through the power of sports and athletics.


Respect - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

3. Respect the Time Your Students Have to Spend on Extracurricular Activities

A study by the University of Wisconsin found that one of the main things that caused students to avoid participating in athletics was not the belief that they lacked physical ability or self-confidence.

While these were contributing factors to low sports program participation, the primary reason behind some students avoiding sports programs was the pressure to participate in other clubs and arts programs – as well as trying to keep up with their daily load of school work.

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What does this mean for coaches and those attempting to increase athletic participation in their schools? For one thing, it means that you may want to take steps to decrease the amount of time that students have to spend on athletics – shortening practices or scheduling them at a more convenient time may help.

It also means that you have to emphasize the benefits of sports at your school more effectively, to make them an appealing option for students who may be on the fence about participating.


Boost Attendance - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

4. Get Non-Athletes Involved, And Make Sure You Boost Attendance

No athlete likes turning to the bleachers and seeing only a few people scattered throughout the stands. Part of the joy of athletics is the ability to show off your prowess and abilities before your peers and others, and to feel a sense of accomplishment. So do your best to get other students to attend games and support their peers.

You could even consider implementing a program to help boost attendance – such as giving game attendees raffle tickets, which may reward them with cash and other prizes at the end of the year. The more games they come to, the better their chances are of winning!


Involve Community - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

5. Market Your Games And Events To The Community

Students shouldn’t be the only ones who come to your games. You should do your best to market all of your events and sports programs in the community at-large. A few ways to do this include:

  • Making sure scores and match details are reported to local newspapers and blogs after every game.
  • Using an SMS broadcasting and voice messaging service like DialMyCalls to send out event reminders and game information to students, athletes, their families, and other folks who regularly attend games.
  • Using social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote upcoming matches and events.
  • Creating calendars, schedules and posters to promote each team and their events throughout the year.
  • Working with local stores and retailers to sell branded merchandise for your school and team – make sure everyone knows your logo.
  • Participating in community service and charitable projects to make sure your athletes engage with the local community.

Do your best to promote all of your sporting programs – not just the most successful ones! By increasing attendance and community engagement across the board, you can make your athletics programs much more attractive to students, and ensure their success.


Recruit - Top 6 Tips to Increase Participation in School Athletics

6. Work to Recruit Individual Students Into Athletics Programs

One of the best things about athletics programs is that there’s something for everyone. From swimming and tennis, soccer, baseball, track and cross country, to bowling and other sports, every student can find a program that will help them grow as a person, and connect with their peers.

So focus on finding kids in your school who could benefit from the power of these programs, strike up conversations with them, and do what you can to recruit them into an athletics program. Some kids just need an extra “push,” to join up. Be kind and understanding – not overbearing – and you’re sure to connect with your students, and encourage them to participate in athletics.

Follow These Tips – Get More Kids to Participate in Your Athletics Programs!

Building successful athletics programs take quite a bit of time and effort. But if you follow these tips, and dedicate your time to trying to expand the population of students who participate – both by becoming athletes, and supporting their peers by attending games and events – you’re sure to start noticing a difference.