Sports Clubs

Stage D: Follow-up

Keep records and evaluate the SCforH initiative

This evaluation is essential in order to ensure the credibility and determine the effectiveness of the SCforH initiative. This includes both process and outcome evaluations to assess whether the initiative was delivered as planned and whether it was effective with respect to its stated aims. It is particularly important to conduct a process evaluation in the early stages of the SCforH initiative delivery to determine whether the club is a viable setting for these activities. Examples of process evaluation questions can be found in Table 6.

Table 6. Examples of process evaluation questions

  • What actions did the SCforH initiative undertake during the first year?
  • How were these actions received by those participating in the SCforH initiative and other club members?
  • What factors helped support the adoption of the SCforH initiative?
  • What factors hindered the adoption of the SCforH initiative?
  • What actions were taken to deal with the hindering factors?

To conduct a process evaluation, a record of actions that have been taken to achieve the aims of SCforH initiative should be kept. The aim of the process evaluation is to assess how the planned activities were delivered. The fact that records of actions undertaken is kept will allow reflections upon progress to be made and particularly: 1) to find out whether the SCforH aims and objectives were achieved; 2) to find out what went well and what could be improved; 3) to draw associations between actions and outcomes; and 4) to gather feedback from all participants (e.g., on their satisfaction with the SCforH initiative and instructor(s)).

Keeping written records may be the most efficient and easiest way to keep track of which actions have been taken. Such records could include, for example, the number of participants, duration of the activities, level of participants’ enjoyment and satisfaction, participants’ experiences, and resources required (see Electronic Toolkit, Area 5).

Share your success inside and outside the club

After implementing the SCforH initiative(s) in your club, it is essential to share your success stories with others. By sharing your experiences and the results of the evaluations of your SCforH initiative, you can acknowledge the people and institutions that contributed to the implementation of the initiative, spread the word about the success in your community, and encourage others to start similar initiatives. It may be useful to seek support from representatives of the local media and community leaders, who can help you share your positive stories with a larger audience (see Table 7 for examples). This can, in return, result in positive publicity for your club and motivate new members to join. By sharing the results of the evaluations within the club and including information about the SCforH initiative in an internal club leaflet, this important information will be communicated to members, parents, and coaches. Posting information on social media channels is a practical and effective way to share your success story with others.

Table 7. Examples of ways to communicate the results of an SCforH initiative

Internal communications

Your club should find a suitable way to communicate with all the participants, from managers and coaches to parents and players. These communications represent opportunities for you to share information about your progress (what has happened), successes, and the participants’ experiences. Examples of such communications could be stories of two or three generations of members in the club, in which you emphasise the role that the new SCforH initiative had in keeping the oldest and youngest members involved in club activities. You can also report on positive changes that the SCforH initiative led to on the club level.

External communications

The same stories could be shared outside the club with members of sporting associations, local supporters, or sponsors as part of their communications. Local media need news, and your evaluations of the participants’ experiences and success stories can serve as the ideal means to publicise your SCforH actions. The recruitment strategy could also include these stories in order to emphasise the club’s commitment to work with particular target groups.

Depending on the results of the evaluation, revert to earlier stages of the process

The application model presented here should not be understood as a unidirectional model. The implementation and delivery of an SCforH initiative should involve a continuous process of assessment, learning, and improvement.

Special considerations for different age groups

Depending on the selected target group, some specific points should be taken into consideration when applying the SCforH approach.

Children and adolescents

Throughout childhood and adolescence, physical activity is necessary to support the development of basic motor skills and musculoskeletal development. Few young people meet the public health recommendations with respect to the levels of physical activity. Even those who participate in sports do not necessarily achieve the recommended level of physical activity. Although the sports club is not the only place where children and adolescents can be physically active, sports clubs should offer adequate levels and a diversity of activities, especially for younger members. In addition, the club representatives may also promote various kinds of health-enhancing physical activities in different environments outside the club.

When choosing children and adolescents as target groups, the educational level of these individuals must be taken into consideration. During their early years, children develop their attitudes toward physical activities and sports as well as toward health. Attitudes towards the level of physical activity (see Koski 200835) and health literacy are developed step by step. Parents, guardians, grandparents, teachers, coaches, siblings, and peers play important roles in these processes, as in many other kinds of socialisation and developmental processes. The coach, for instance, may not only act as an important role model in terms of sports participation, but also promote a generally healthy lifestyle. When applying the SCforH approach with children and adolescents, coaches and other adults with whom the young participants interact in the club should clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. To ensure this, it may be useful to organise meetings with these individuals to reach an agreement on the accepted and preferable ways to interact with children and adolescents.

When members of younger age groups are targeted, it may also be beneficial to integrate parents into the SCforH activities. For that reason, it is recommended to organise a parents’ meeting to introduce the aims and principles of the SCforH initiative and explain how it will be delivered. The values of the club – beyond just promoting sports – should be clearly communicated to parents; that is, the values should be associated with aspects of physical, psychological, and social development.
Most children and adolescents do not participate in sports clubs primarily to improve their health. However, it may be useful to integrate information about nutrition, rest, and sleep, as well as how to avoid doping and substance abuse, into sports activities and coaching.

Adults

When the target group consists of adults, it is particularly important to make sure that the range and content of the activities is appropriate to keep them engaged over a period of time that is long enough to allow them to gain health benefits. If needed, motivational strategies should be employed to discourage participants from dropping out and ensure that they take part in the planned activities. Depending on the sport and the type of SCforH initiative, the levels of engagement in activities within the sports club may not be sufficient in some cases for adults to meet the physical activity recommendations and, hence, they may need to engage in additional activities outside the club. Adults are most likely to gain the health benefits if they engage in at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. For most adults, the more physically active they are, the greater the benefits they will experience. Although it is still unclear whether a ceiling effect exists, and the optimal amount for specific activities is still unknown, recommending adults to engage in a reasonable amount of additional physical activity outside the sports club is unlikely to do any harm. In addition, it may be useful to include flexibility, warm-up, cool-down, and muscle-strengthening activities in the SCforH activities for adults.

While planning and organising activities for this age group, the participants’ fitness levels, motor skills, and previous sporting experience should be taken into consideration. The risk of injuries may be elevated, for instance, if someone who has been heavily involved in a sport in the past makes a comeback after taking a break for many years. In some cases, a preparatory period during which participants undertake only health-enhancing exercises in a controlled environment may be necessary before they can take part in the main sport. In addition, some sports activities may need to be adapted (e.g., the game/playing rules), so that they are more appropriate for amateur participants (see Electronic Toolkit, Area 4).

Seniors

The key role of physical activity for seniors is to help them maintain a level of health and mobility that sufficiently allows for their social participation and functional independence. Important health aspects to consider as part of the SCforH approach with respect to seniors are their ability to function, social capital, balance, body maintenance, and increased health risks. The key health benefits to this age group include fall prevention, slowing of cognitive decline, and reducing risk of many chronic diseases. Another important aspect to consider is the social nature of sports participation, and special attention should be paid to this while developing SCforH initiatives that target seniors. To achieve potential health benefits, seniors are recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity such as light sports, walking, and household chores or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity such as swimming and skiing. Seniors are also recommended to perform muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week and take part in activities that can help them improve their balance and prevent falls at least three times a week.

Sport activities may be practiced by most members of the population up until they reach an advanced age. However, seniors usually prefer to participate in more health-oriented and less technically and physically demanding sport activities. Some of the physical activities that are most frequently selected by members in this age group include gymnastics, swimming, cycling, walking, and hiking, but this can vary significantly depending on the country and community. When tailoring an SCforH initiative to meet the needs of seniors in your community, it is important to include activities that are not extremely physically demanding (i.e., practicing them does not require a high level of physical fitness and motor skills). The activities often need to be adapted to meet the special physical and motivational requirements of members in this age group to minimise health risks.

Two examples of possible actions that can be taken to achieve SCforH goals, which have been tailored to meet the needs of a specific age group, are shown in Figure 7. More examples of good practice can be found in the Electronic Toolkit.

Figure 7. Example of important aspects to consider with respect to seniors and examples of actions.