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Participation vs. Membership Explained

When it comes to sport, numbers matter – the participation (attendance) of each programme, total club membership, and the income at the end of each month.

Your numbers tell you how strong your club is and how you can make it stronger. Collecting this information can be used to identify the trends of what’s working (to offer participation programmes and tailor membership packages) and where there’s room for improvement. This enables you to accurately report on player participation, plan effective member retention strategies and make informed decisions about key club activities.


Research has shown that the traditional membership subscription model is declining in most sports, whilst pay-to-play is becoming the new and dominant way that most people are paying to play. Over the past few years national squash membership has remained relatively stable. This indicates that, as a sport, we are doing an excellent job to create a sense of belonging, foster club identity, facilitate friendships and provide various motivating opportunities so that our people can enjoy squash and ‘Love it’.

But… Sport New Zealand’s new Community Sport Strategy has signalled a change in focus with more emphasis now being placed on participation as opposed to membership. Squash, as a sport, needs to collect information on membership figures and participation statistics to show that:

  • Not only are our people committed to the sport and willing to sign up as loyal members; but
  • We are also able to continue offering participation programmes to different markets, including those who are not members so that they can learn to ‘Try it’ and ‘Play it’ and eventually ‘Love it’.

Capturing all of this activity data is a time consuming, yet necessary, process. The good news is that it will show us what impact we are making within our communities and will allow us to see how well we are listening to, and giving, what our various customers (participants and members) want.

Learn more

Click here (PDF) to see the key differences between participation and membership, how you can measure each and a best-practice example of how the Devoy Squash & Fitness Centre has approached recording both in iSquash.

Give your members what they want

For details on the current programmes available and how your club can set these up click here.

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