Keys to retaining participants


Close your eyes and just for a moment think back to your days as a junior sportsperson. The nervous anticipation of Friday night and bouncing out of bed Saturday morning to don the match gear and get to the game.

What was behind your motivation back then? To play with your friends? Love of the sport? Connection to the coach? Let’s focus on the coach for a minute.

We’ll take a punt that there is at least one coach that stands out to this day as a person of great influence in your playing days and perhaps your life.

A recent article, found here, highlighted 4 reasons why children quit sport.  As the article alludes to, 70 per cent of children in the USA will quit sport by the time they are 13 years old and never go back to it.

Anyone reading this have a similar story?

In Australia we face similar challenges. Research conducted by the Australian Sports Commission in 2013 indicates that “25 per cent of children between 5 – 13 years of age are lapsed club members (currently not a member of a club but has been in the past)”.

The role of the coach is incredibly important in developing an environment that continually encourages participants back to the sport.

Here’s a couple of suggestions that might help develop your coaching and importantly, retain players in netball (no matter how old!).


If it’s not fun, your players are less likely to return, especially the younger ones.  So maybe find out from them – what do you find fun?  It may be different from your thinking

Perceived Competence

Lots of players will throw in the towel because “they’re just no good” so a great coach will develop all players at their respective ability levels and give them the confidence to know that they are on a learning journey.

Remember – some players develop faster than others.

Developmental Readiness

What are your players ready for? A key part of your planning should be analysing individuals and structuring your coaching to support their ongoing development.

Develop a respect for the sport

This includes the game itself and the people who make it happen (umpires, opponents, team staff, club members, volunteers & supporters).

Maintain a positive environment

This includes your role as coach, their roles as players, demonstrating the club’s values and promoting respectful sideline behaviour.  An ability to educate parents, family and friends on positive ways to support their team is imperative to ensure players have a great experience pre, during and post match.

In fact, check out this article for a bit more perspective on how important this is.

Your role as a coach will have a large bearing on what your players decide to do next season. Participate in ANZ NetSetGO again? Make the transition to competitive netball? Commit to another season at your club or find a different one to play at?

The role of the coach is incredibly broad, however a core fundamental of their coaching philosophy should be to ensure their players develop a love of the game and a desire to continue in the sport.

So, are your players bouncing out of bed this weekend?

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