These ideas can help community recreation groups, clubs, and camps increase participation and create sustainability.
Community Recreation Groups
PARTICIPATION CREATES SUSTAINABILITY
Use program evaluation tools that can help measure whether quality experiences are being delivered to children. Develop programs and pricing models that encourage multi-sport play through age 12, and promote them as “smart development.”
Survey kids to capture their feedback, and share data with coaches and the sport board so they can adjust policies and practices. Make room on the board for an athlete or two, just like national sport governing bodies do.
Actively recruit more mothers as coaches. Offer “women-only” coaching clinics, co-coaching arrangements, and plug-and-play practice plans to ease the transition. Allocate a minimum number of board spots to women.
Coaches: Don’t cut kids—add teams where possible by shrinking rosters. Grow practice-to-game ratios. Dedicate time to developing fundamental movement skills. Provide quality, individualized feedback based on progress made in those skills.
Parks and Recreation: Re-create the sandlot experience by carving out time at fields and gyms during prime hours each week for pickup play. Provide equipment and loose supervision, then turn the space over to kids.
After-school Programs: Dedicate time to casual play within the formal commitments that already have been made by leading organizations to promote daily physical activity.
Faith-Based Groups: Help solve sport transportation barriers, which are especially acute in rural and urban areas. Churches, synagogues, etc. often have networks, resources that can be tapped, as well as indoor and outdoor spaces for activities.
Camps, Private Clubs: Remove the word “elite” and all related terms from marketing materials to parents. No child qualifies as elite before growing into their body.