Stopping people from coming to your sessions will increase the number of people coming to your sessions! While this may seem like a paradox, a contradictory idea, bear with me!
What I am talking about is having specific sessions aimed at certain types of people. In doing this, you are removing some of the reasons potential members of your club are staying away.
What reasons might they be?
One of the biggest factors in whether some people exercise or not is based on what they think other people will say/think about them! Two heavily under-represented sections of society in sport are women and people with handicaps (both mental and physical). I'm sure you can easily imagine some of the comments that might be made by some lesser minded people, or at the very least may go through the minds of someone considering whether to attend one of your club`s sessions and naturally imagines one of these scenarios occurring. This sort of thing is enough to push someone who is on the fence about attending over to the side of not attending.
How can you minimise this barrier to people?
Making specific sessions can help remove some of this thinking. If they know they can attend a session where they will not stick out, be laughed at, stared at, etc. and know that everybody else there is in the same boat (perhaps literally) then they a less likely to be put off.
What sort of sessions could your club offer?
As already mentioned, women-only sessions are already becoming more popular, but some other sessions may be disability sessions, age-specific sessions (e.g. over 50s, under 18s), beginner-only sessions (so they don't feel they will be laughed at if they are terrible, which even the best players were at some point!)
Won't this exclusion lessen my session numbers?
No. Let us take women-only as an example, think about how many women generally attend your mixed sessions currently. It is most likely not very many...
Now think that half the people in the world are women. Half the potential attendees of your sessions are at risk of excluding themselves from coming because of these fears. This is already limiting your sessions!
Should all your sessions do this?
No. I talked at the start about this being more inclusive as a club, but surely if all the sessions are specific then the club is segregating members and therefore not actually being very inclusive and diverse!
Well, this is where also having general, open sessions is also important, and having regular social events where all are invited encourages interaction between members of different sessions. Then they realise perhaps those others aren't so bad, and perhaps they won't be laughed at if they attend the open sessions. Then, once these fears have been put to bed, you have thriving, busy open sessions and a clearer pathway for non-playing potential people to get involved safely, then progress into active, engaged members of your club!
As a result of doing these things you build a diverse, inclusive, thriving club with people engaged from all walks of life.
This next part may sound extreme, but it is these little small steps that amount to big change...
Obesity and physical inactivity are two of the biggest killers in the world at the moment, think of how many of those who die as a result might have not exercised because of these fears. Opening the doors for these under-represented sections of society will save lives! Also, having a diverse, engaged club will help build bridges between sections of society, removing some of the stigmas attached wrongly to certain people, such as mentally and physically handicapped people. The positive social effect may also create a better society where you live and in the world!
Furthermore one more reason to do it... there are a lot of funding opportunities currently being offered to fund such projects from organisations such as Sport England, so doing these things may even make great financial sense for your club anyway, even if the numbers at these sessions are lower as a result of the specialising!
Think your way to a better performance!
Looking to gain that extra edge on your sporting performance? Trying to calm that temper? Or hold back those nerves?
Trying to train your players more efficiently? and help them deal better in match situations?
Then this is the place for you! Brain SPEC is the product of Mark Simpson. A table tennis player himself he is using his experiences and what he has learned from his sport psychology training to help you enhance your own or your players' performances!