Rower retention rate up after Lincoln puts oar in: 4 May
May 4, 2016 0 Comments
The number of young Canterbury rowers continuing with the sport after leaving high school has increased significantly this season, thanks in part to a Lincoln University study carried out last year.
That’s the word from Canterbury Rowing Regional Manager John Wylie, who says the 30 per cent retention rate of the region’s school leavers for the current season is more than three times the national average of nine per cent.
Last year’s Lincoln study involved Sport and Recreation student Gabrielle Gray working with coach Kaye Surgeonor of The Canterbury Rowing Association to investigate the reasons why many young Kiwi rowers were giving up rowing after finishing high school.
“They compiled a list of all the school leavers in Canterbury and contacted them at their schools,” Mr Wylie says. “They then devised a questionnaire to find out where the students rowed and how often, and asked what might deter them from continuing with rowing after leaving school.
“The goal of the study was to improve the retention rate of rowers after high school, and this has certainly happened.”
Mr Wylie puts the improvement down to the ongoing support of Ms Surgeonor, and the fact that the questionnaire itself involved encouraging the young rowers to reflect on their participation in the sport.
“We’re pretty certain that all of the school leavers who have registered for the season filled out the questionnaire,” he says.
“Kaye also made a point of talking school leavers through their options, discussing the level of competition they might participate at, and ensuring they moved on to competition the following season.”
Certain factors highlighted in the questionnaire, such as participants wanting to row in mixed gender crews and over shorter distances, have yet to be activated, Mr Wylie says.
“But the common factor is that someone went out and talked to them and gave them the understanding that they weren’t necessarily on their own in making the decision; there were people out there who could help and facilitate.”
Mr Wylie says sports participation may be fairly low on school leavers’ priority lists.
“Once students leave school, all of a sudden, they’re on their own. What we’ve got to demonstrate to the school leaver is that we’re able to offer a level of participation they can afford and enjoy.
“Some might want to row for New Zealand, but others may just want to row on a social basis, with a couple of paddles a week.
“Lowering the intensity of training may mean an accessibility of more coaches who don’t want to make a full-time commitment and other domino benefits could arise.
“Clubs need to be educated to embrace the schools and treat school leavers as equals, going out of their way to say, ‘we want you as a club member and you don’t necessarily need to train every day’.”