The importance of coaches to clubs and participation

The recent Sport and Recreation Alliance Club Survey highlighted the key role coaching plays within clubs. The results showed that almost 40% of staffing in clubs is concerned with coaching (and this doesn’t even include unreported helpers such as parents assisting at a session!)

In general the research states volunteering is looking healthier moving forward. However it is important not to ignore the fact that almost one-third of clubs see coaching as a challenge. In particular:

  • 31% of clubs identified a lack of coaches to meet demand as a challenge.
  • 30% of clubs identified retaining coaches as a challenge.

These figures are possibly not surprising given the precarious state of coach recruitment and retention. According to the report the average club has ten coaches (nine volunteers and one employee) and we estimate two are likely to leave each year, often unexpectedly. With this in mind it is possibly not surprising that planning for future coaching provision is perceived as a challenge by almost one-third of clubs.

It is also interesting that the Sport and Recreation Alliance make the link between coaching and participation when they state that ‘future membership growth may therefore be limited without sufficient coaching resource.’ Therefore improving coach recruitment and retention is an essential element for any participation strategy.

This may be more of a concern for some sports and clubs than others as the report highlights a lack of coaches to meet demand is especially an issue for:

  • Rowing (72% of clubs)
  • Canoeing (72%)
  • Gymnastics (61%)
  • Athletics (54%)
  • Cycling (50%)
  • Table Tennis (50%)

Mid sized clubs (income £10k-£30k) also appear more likely to have challenges with recruitment and retention of coaches than either small or large clubs. Those clubs who own or long-term lease facilities appear to have the fewer challenges with coaching than those that hire facilities or those that mix hiring and ownership. This may hint that long-term security within a club is a factor for improved coach recruitment and retention.