The Problem of Retention
In the five years of our organizations existence, we have learned a lot about our organization, ourselves, and
the youth track community in the process. Much of what we learned, we felt the
need to share with the track and field community. This is because we feel that
those who volunteer their time in an effort to improve Georgia Youth Track and
Field can benefit from many of the lessons and the data that we can provide. We
also felt that from the data we compiled, we also could chart an improved
course of success for our organization; and possibly other youth teams.
Our internal report is an assessment of our organization: a sort of 4 ½ Years in
Review. It is also the basis for our Strategic Plan for the next four to five
years and a blueprint of how we will chart our success as an organization going
forward. It is also a look back to measure how we progressed and what we
learned from our journey. One of the most glaring pieces of data was our statistics around athlete retention. We have had nearly 100 athletes come through our program in our five years of existence. To our surprise we found that throughout the course of our organization, nearly 61% of those athletes no longer run or compete in track and field in any capacity!
Immediately upon learning this, we investigated the many reasons
for this turnover. What are we doing to cause this departure from the sport?
What about our approach is making families leave the sport altogether? What
methods do we enact that makes families think twice about allowing their kid to
participate in the sport… and ultimately abandon it? We are not talking about
the dynamics of team competition involving children and parents that every team
has, regardless of track and field, basketball, football, etc. Things like
parents disagreeing with relay selections, not feeling that they are getting
the training they need, or parents wanting more control over the program.
Usually those type of departures result in a family going to another team, or
sometimes the creation of another team entirely.
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