O’Brien Sports is helping to deliver the sports facilities schools and communities need to stay fit and healthy.

Sport England has recently published the results of its research to help understand what young people want from sports facilities today to keep them active as they move into adult life. We’ve pulled out some of the main ways sports facilities need to change to keep these young people engaged.

You can read the full report from the research here but the main point that we took from it is that even though young people are going through some big life changes such as leaving education and leaving home, sport is still high on their agendas.

Nearly 60 per cent of 14- to 25-year-olds take part in sport and exercise at least once a week, so the challenge for sports facilities is to keep that motivation going so that they continue doing so for life. These 10 suggested are broad ideas to tap into how these young people see the world, but the report has also defined them as six distinct sporting personality types: sports enthusiasts; confident intellectuals; ambitious self-starters; cautious introverts; thoughtful improvers; and everyday youths.

So think about how each of these ideas can be adapted to meet the needs of each of these types.

  • Change #1 – Time to get digital
    You might think having WiFi is not an important element of the keep fit experience but today’s young people are the truly digital generation and they want to be connected wherever they are.
  • Change #2 – Rewards are good
    You can show them how much you appreciate their loyalty with reward programmes for classes attended, games played, community projects involved in. Whatever you’ve got people doing think about how you can make them feel the benefits emotionally and financially as well as physically.
  • Change #3 – Interaction is vital
    The digital generation want their sporting activities to be interactive with technology too. They want technology to play a part to tell them how well they’re doing, what they’re achieving and how soon they can reach their goals.
  • Change #4 – Personalisation is key
    Making sure that you offer a varied programme that meets the needs of all the different types of personality is going to be one of the most important things to get right to keep them all engaged. They must be able to mix and match what they do to suit their preferences and lifestyles.  
  • Change #5 – Social connections must be strong
    A good sports and leisure centre has to be the kind of place where young people feel comfortable and happy hanging out with their friends; as well as being somewhere that they think they can make new friends with like-minded people. So think of new ways to bring people together outside of the sporting activity they came there to take part in.
  • Change #6 – Inspiration needs to be the name of the game
    Everyone likes to know they are doing well and achieving something so you need to offer the programmes and facilities that inspire people to get started but that also motivate them to keep going.
  • Change #7 – Creativity in what’s on offer
    Keep mixing it up – don’t have one programme of activities that never changes. Young people live a life of online snippets and tend to have shorter attention spans so you need to keep them coming back by being creative with your activities. Allowing them the opportunity to create their own programmes is a plus point too.
  • Change #8 – Bright, clean and modern is a must
    The facilities have to be up to par or the simple fact is that they just won’t keep coming back.  
  • Change #9 – Use the right language
    For all the personality types identified a fear of judgement was pretty high on their list of things they worry about. Don’t use the language that will reinforce this – think positive, motivational and inspiring.
  • Change #10 – Focus on the feel good factor
    Don’t tell them what could go wrong with their health if they don’t exercise – focus on what will go right if they do.

So, if you’d like to discuss how you can create the right sporting environment to deliver all of these changes for the young people in your community, give us a call on 01926 319 724 or email [email protected] to chat about your project ideas.