Retaining and increasing Track and Field participation

While the number of people running regularly has increased considerably in recent years – the number of England Athletics registered athletes and runners has increased by more than 100% to over 185,000 in the past decade, for example – unfortunately the same cannot be said for the number of people taking part in track and field. While the performance standards across a number of events continues to impress, the overall number of participants is falling: 43% of athletes aged between 13 and 19 who competed in 2016 did not go on to compete the following year.

England Athletics is committed to addressing this problem and to understanding why more athletes, especially younger athletes, do not continue in the sport after being first introduced to it. Our first step was to commission some consultative research in late 2018 to identify the main reasons why young athletes of all abilities drop out of the sport.

Competition is clearly a key area where we can start to address this problem to help address this decline and retain more young athletes. We know that clubs and competition providers are trying their best to provide competition and coaching to our young athletes and we also know that volunteers are in short supply, which is why increasing the number of volunteers in the sport is our biggest priority.

However, if we are to see a reduction in drop out rates from track and field and an increase in the number of people enjoying our great sport, we will all need to work together and reflect on what we could do differently which is why we are launching a process for best practice examples and new ideas to be shared. This will allow all of us together, England Athletics, British Athletics, clubs and the many competition providers who devote their time to making the sport happen regionally and nationally, to identify changes that we can make to what we do to address the reasons that athletes give for dropping out.

Share your best practice examples and ideas

All member clubs and affiliated athletes are invited to share best practice examples and suggest other ideas to build on the steps we have already put in place to help ensure young athletes of all abilities remain part of the athletics and running family to help halt this decline. This information will help the development of a best practice guide for the sport that is part of our action plan.