TURNING CASUAL PLAYERS INTO REGULARS

Posted on May 15, 2015

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.’s John Bushell believes that one of the key drivers in generating future success for the tennis industry will be through enticing occasional tennis players to pick up their rackets more regularly.

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The eighth annual Sport England Active People Survey, published in October 2014, revealed that 384,000 people played tennis at least weekly in the previous 12 months, representing 0.9% of the adult population. However, despite this figure falling by 16% in the last decade, Bushell believes there is reason for optimism.

In his presentation at the 2015 Tennis Summit (above), the managing director of SMS INC. explained how these Sport England ‘once-a-week’ reported numbers does not show the full picture of players in England. Bushell explained that the data is based on people who have participated in moderate intensive activity for at least 30 minutes four times in the last four weeks, which equates to someone playing tennis once a week throughout the year.

“That’s a pretty tough definition for the sport because tennis is a seasonal sport,” said Bushell. “Whilst the number looks pretty negative it is not a reflection of the total tennis playing population or the potential tennis playing market. Sport England do record less frequent players – but due to comparative funding priorities, these are the numbers most often quoted.”

An international participation study conducted by SMS INC. with the International Tennis Federation, subdivided players into four categories, from ‘casual’ (playing 1-3 times a year) to ‘avid’ players, who play at least once a week.

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Measuring participants in the United Kingdom aged 6 plus, there are 900,000 people who play ‘occasionally’ (4-11 times a year), as well as another 1.54 million who play ‘regularly’ (at least once a month) – whilst these players exist, they do not take part frequently enough to be included as an active participant by Sport England’s definitions.

“The core players in the UK, those who play at least once a month, equate to 2.12 million,” said Bushell. “That means that 3.6% of the population played tennis at least once a month last year. By including all casual and occasional players alongside these core participants, you have 4.18 million people in the UK who picked up a racket last year.

“As an industry we want to grow the casual players into occasional players, the occasional players into regular players and the regular players into avid players. We want to get them playing more often.”

Read the full article on the Tennis Industry Association UK website.

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