‘Come and Try’ days are a great way to introduce new people to your club and sport. It gives members of your community the opportunity to come down and see what your club is all about.
Some clubs have extremely successful days while others struggle to attract participants. Most clubs tend to run the ‘tried and tested’ format of coming down to try a game but with a little thought and creativity your club can run an exciting event that engages your community and maximises involvement. Here are some ideas that your club might like to consider when planning their next ‘Come and Try’ day:
1. Link your day to a meal – For example, ‘Breakfast Bowls’. This allows for families and groups of people to come down to your club for a meal and try your sport at the same time. Your club could also link the meal to an event such as Mother’s Day.
2. Hold a ‘Modified Rules Game’ – For example, a shorter version of the game or a game with a smaller amount of participants. Longer formats and full versions of your sport may be difficult for new participants but providing short or modified versions of your sport can be a great way to engage potential new members. A great example of this is a 20/20 game of Cricket. These formats allow for a short, intense experience and do not necessarily need to be competitive. This makes for a fun and exciting experience for a new person playing your sport. Another option is to add an element of fun, for example an inflatable pitch.
3. Run a Holiday Program – This can engage children at a time when parents need them entertained. These programs are invaluable opportunities to increase participation. Programs can act as both an introduction to the sport while also providing coaching for more experienced members. Participants often experience rapid skill progression which can excite new children and parents and encourages them to continue to be involved with your sport. Your club can also run the program to increase income as well as give opportunities for members of your club to train or help run the sessions.
4. Run a clinic with an elite sportsperson – This can attract large numbers of potential new participants to your club, to try your sport. These days can be a powerful and inspirational experience for children, and families will travel a large distance to see sports people. You may also find families will attend a sport they may not have previously been interested in. Advertising your event as a free day can maximise the amount of potential new recruits that attend. If you wish to create some income from the day your club could open the canteen or sell memorabilia. You could also look to run your registration day at the same time.
Getting access to these sportspeople can generally be organised through your peak sporting body.
5. Include your day as part of a larger event or community activity – For example a Fair, Fete, or Registration Day. This gives your club the opportunity to connect with the audience of another event that may not have previously considered your sport. It is a great chance to engage these new people and tell them what your club is all about.
6. Create a social event and provide the opportunity for people to try your sport – As the market segmentation research undertaken on behalf of the Australian Sports Commission tells us, often people join clubs for the social benefits and that the sport is the secondary reason. Creating a social environment can allow new participants to experience both. A great example is ‘barefoot bowling’. This is a lawn bowls activity that has a social side to it. Some of this new group of participants may then become attracted to the more structured competitions in the future.
7. Offer opportunities during off peak times – For example, Twilight golf or corporate golf. These activities are a great opportunity to fill in time when your facility is not normally being used. Many facilities are now indoor or under lights which gives the opportunity to run activities at times that aren’t traditional. People are keen to participate in their own time and offering additional times may attract new participants.
8. Link your come and try day to a special date or event – For example; Easter, Mother’s day, Melbourne Cup Day, New Year’s Day or Grand Final Days. On many of these occasions families are looking for activities to attend in order to socialise with friends. Running your event on a special date or event provides both a social occasion as well as the opportunity to try your sport.
9. Link your come and try day to a charity or create a fundraising event – This can be a very powerful partnership and can engage additional people in your community who wish to support the charity as well as try a new sport. Walking clubs and marathon clubs often do this very well.