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Do you know how to simply use your data to help attract and retain more players ?

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

How would you answer these questions ?

  • What participation outcomes do you have ? - as a Club, Association, Entrepreneur or Organization? (eg. increased retention, high new player rates, players coming back to football etc.)

  • Is it possible to measure those outcomes, either fully or partially?

  • Do you want to find out more about the drop out of players e.g.for what reasons? what are the most vulnerable ages for drop out ?

  • If you could measure those most important outcomes, and several factors that drive those outcomes, would that information be useful to you?

  • When you try something new, would you like to know quickly whether and how much of it is working ?

  • Would you like to be able to detect emerging trends quicker ?

  • Would you like to develop a model to allow you to monitor your programmes ?

If your answer to any of these questions is YES then this blog is for you as it focuses on a new discipline ' Participation Analytics' and helps to answer these questions.

( please also see details of a free webinar on this topic at the bottom of this post )

Football has embraced Performance Analytics which has analysed player and team performances. Participation Analytics analyses the trends in player participation. This post is therefore for anyone who wants to find out specifically what are the participation trends in their Association, Grassroots Club, Grassroots Programme or Startup.

Every effective organisation needs clear data as to the current situation of engagement with members, customers, participants: this data is required to make more effective decisions They need to know what’s happening now ,this month and the trends relative to last month and last year - for each age range and gender

The need therefore is to track the participation trends of individual players by using longitudinal analysis

In this post we will therefore be examining the following themes :

  1. WHY capture Participation Data ?

  2. WHAT Specific Benefits are there to capturing and analysing participation data?

  3. HOW to capture Participation Data ?

  4. WHAT specific Participation Data to capture and analyse?

  5. HOW to analyse Participation Data ?

National Football Associations increasingly report more accurate data as shown here in Football Australia's National Participation Reports , the JA's Data Box in Japan, the DBU in Denmark and the FAW in Wales.

The problem, however, is that these data reports in Grassroots Football only report the aggregate numbers of registered players per season or year - they do not track the registration of individual players.

For example such traditional methods of data collection of aggregate numbers per age level therefore make it difficult to discover if increases or decreases in participation are due to growth of new players, the retention of existing players or the return of lapsed players. Without such key information planning strategic objectives is very limited : it's like an aircraft pilot flying blind without a dashboard !

In this blog in the new field of Participation Analytics we highlight the work of Adam Kuhn and Satori Soccer in using simple (anonymous ) player registration data to track the participation trends of individual players by using longitudinal analysis

In this post we will therefore be examining the following themes :

  1. WHY capture Participation Data ?

  2. WHAT Specific Benefits are there to capturing and analysing participation data?

  3. HOW to capture Participation Data ?

  4. WHAT specific Participation Data to capture and analyse?

  5. HOW to analyse Participation Data ?

Adam Kuhn started working Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club as a coach but in conjunction with the Club Executive Director, Aaron Nagel, developed a data and analytics program to capture a range of trends in participation; player retention; age effect challenges; as well as pre-season, in-season, and end-of-season feelings and reflections. Rapids Youth Soccer builds on this work and integrates a longitudinal analysis of players and coaches with individual profiles, retention correlations, exit surveys, and more to ensure a high quality, developmentally appropriate soccer experience for every child.

In August last year, for its work in data analytics the club was recognized by the Aspen Institute as a 2021 Project Play Champion - as one of 20 organizations in the USA that have made a major contribution to benefit youth athletes.

I first met Adamin 2019 when we were hired by US Youth Soccer for what became known as the USYS Growth & Retention Impact Program (GRIP)

Bill Taylor (now Vice President of US Soccer) was then the President of Idaho Youth Soccer Association and Chairman of the USYS Organizational Growth Committee. He had the vision to more accurately capture the true trends of Participation in Youth Soccer in order to maximise the number of registered players.

The project concentrated on two key Metrics :

  • “Growth” = new players to the club and/or state association

  • “Retention”= players who returned for another year within the club and/or state

The project was committed to the following aims :

  1. Creating a Growth & Retention report for any state association that submits registration data

  2. Creating a Growth & Retention report for every club over 200 players in each state association that signs up; the state associations decide whether or how to distribute

  3. Creating a training program to help users interpret and analyze the reports

Starting with four 'Pioneer States' ( Indiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and South Carolina ), 22 State Associations joined the project in 2019 with a further 13 Associations committing themselves to the project after meetings at the US Youth Soccer Workshop during January 2020 in Baltimore. With 34 State Associations, the GRIP Project had approximately 60% of all State Youth Soccer Associations involved.

The data analysis tracked the individual registration history of over 600,000 players over two seasons

The Covid Pandemic then stalled this programme in the USA but you can see here what the initial reaction was to the reports from the Associations in Indiana, Minnesota, South Carolina and Tennessee

Adam and Satori Soccer continue to provide a critical service to State Associations and Youth Soccer Clubs in the USA and have recently completed a major project to analyse all Grassroots Clubs in the Hungarian Football Federation which is being monitored by UEFA

Adam has also contributed to our Online Course : " INNOVATE ! Build Your Grassroots Football Startup" and you can see some of the video interviews below

Adam Introduces himself

1. WHY capture Participation Data ?

2. WHAT Specific Benefits are there to capturing and analysing participation data?

3.HOW to capture Participation Data and 4.WHAT specific Participation Data to capture and analyse?

The simplest way to capture data is to use existing player registration data

We show below some examples starting with raw club registration data of players ,per age ,per gender as shown below from example's of Adam's work in the USA.

The identity of player is obviously not shared - merely the Gender & Date of Birth of the player+ the season + the club

Adam can then create a report for the Club : a sample can be downloaded below

1.1 - Club Starter Report - FakeData (2)
Download PDF • 464KB

and pages from such a report shown below to illustrate Growth at the club - per age and gender

and Turnover of players at the club - per age and gender

Adam can then use data like this to create a more visual report for the club : a sample can be downloaded here

5.HOW to analyse Participation Data ?

Associations and Clubs which have used Participation

  • Feedback on the effectiveness of recent initiatives and programs to impact growth and retention

  • Initiate growth & retention conversations with clubs

  • Information to support AGMs and other events

  • Identify and share ‘Bright Spot’ practices

  • Assist in Grant Aid Application

  • Help in presentations for potential sponsors

With regard to growth and retention, a number of Clubs and Associations have used a tool we developed - ' The Soccer Garden" as shown below to more clearly evaluate teams teams within clubs and evaluate clubs within Associations.This can be created per age and per gender and allows specific, tailor made action plans to be developed

Would you like to learn more about how to use data to help support your Grassroots Football Programmes at your Club, Association, Charity or Business ?

We will be organising a FREE Webinar in July with Adam Kuhn to allow Questions and Answers

The webinar will focus on data analysis in grassroots football and youth soccer.

To get access to this webinar please complete this short 3 question survey here and we will inform you of the webinar which you will be able to join

The survey is to find out more specifically your needs in this area so please take this opportunity to let us know and we will organise a webinar around this and inform you.

So the webinar will answer your questions and in addition to the issues raised in this blog regarding growth and retention the webinar will also highlight the how to use customer review tools ( like the Net Promoter Score ) and how to compare participation rated against local population census data


Reminder : you can also subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter here to receive the latest industry news and analysing trends dedicated to maximising grassroots football participation

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