News & Updates

15 December 2021 • High Performance

Athletics shows much improved results in Voice of the Participant Survey

(Photo: onlyyouqj /

Club member experience has shown a significant improvement in the sport of athletics according to detailed data gathered in the Sport NZ Voice of the Participant survey.

The survey is designed to understand what a club level athlete experiences and how we as an organisation might adapt our products and services to meet people’s changing needs.

The last time Athletics NZ participated in the survey was four years ago but the results in 2021 show a marked improvement across a range of key metrics. This gives us confidence that our clubs are making positive progress in being more participant focused and delivering better outcomes for their communities. Other sports also participated in the survey which gives us a direct comparison to how other sports are faring.

Athletics NZ CEO Pete Pfitzinger said: “We are pleased that these results show improvement across a range of measures compared to four years ago, which indicates a variety of initiatives at the national, centre and club level are making a difference to club members. There is more to do, however, and we all need to continue to work together to further improve the athletics experience.”

Athletics NZ Community Manager Hamish Meacheam said: “We’ve had a sense that the experiences of our club-level athletes were improving, but to have this confirmed via these results is a real boost. I’d particularly like to acknowledge all the hard work put in by our club leaders, who do amazing work at the grassroots level, to ensure our sport remains a vibrant part of their communities. Without them, this result would not have been possible.”

Some key findings from the survey can be seen below:

Areas where we have improved significantly

The most pleasing aspect of the results has been our significant improvement across a number of key measures. This shows that our work in the club development space has been effective, despite the challenges of limited resource.

  • Satisfaction with club experience
    • Satisfaction with the overall experience of participating in athletics has significantly increased from 2017 (69% very or extremely satisfied vs. 59% in 2017).
    • When including “satisfied” the measure increases to 93%
  • Net Promotor Score
    • Compared with 2017, Athletics has a significantly higher Net Promoter Score (promoters minus detractors) (+44 vs. +28).
  • Likelihood to re-join club
    • A significantly larger proportion of members intend to rejoin their athletics club next season compared with 2017 (87% vs. 77%).
  • Satisfaction with key drivers of club experience
    • Compared with 2017, Athletics respondents are significantly more satisfied with all the drivers with the biggest differences being in fostering a sense of pride in our club (72% vs. 62%) and the quality of the coaches or instructors (66% vs. 54%).

Areas where our sport excels:

As compared to other sports, Athletics NZ is significantly better than the mean of other sports who take part in the VoP in the following areas.

  • Rangatahi satisfaction
    • Compared with the All Sports 2020/21 rangatahi, Athletics rangatahi are more satisfied with the following factors in our sport
      • Being friendly and welcoming
      • Providing a safe environment
      • Encouraging good sportsmanship and fair play
      • Is fair and provides equal opportunity for all participants
    • Frequency of inappropriate behaviour while participating
      • One in nine (11%) have experienced inappropriate sideline behaviour at least occasionally while participating in athletics. This is significantly lower than the All Sports 2020/21 average (23%).
    • Female perceptions of gender equality at club
      • Compared with females in the All Sports 2019/20 average, Athletics females have significantly higher levels of agreement for all statements, with the biggest difference being in “my club treats all people equally regardless of gender” (94% vs. 84%).
    • Handling of integrity issues
      • Nine in ten (88%) Athletics respondents trust their club to handle integrity issues appropriately and effectively. Athletics has significantly higher levels of trust when compared with the All Sports 2020/21 average (83%).

     Areas for future focus

There are some areas that require further research to understand, and some that simply require ongoing attention and efforts. Some of the main areas for future focus include.

  • Injury rates
    • A third of respondents had been injured in the past 12 months. We know from previous research that injury is the biggest contributor to non-renewal of membership, and our injury rates are significantly higher than the all sports average.
  • The joining process
    • More than half (55%) of new Athletics members are more than satisfied with the overall process of joining their club. However, this is significantly lower than the All Sports 2020/21 average (67%).
  • Number and quality of coaches
    • Compared with the All Sports 2020/21 result, Athletics respondents are less satisfied with the quality of the coaches or instructors. (66% vs. 71%)
  • Communications
    • Our lowest ratings came for “Aware of development occurring in Athletics across NZ” and “Making me aware of benefits provided by Athletics NZ.”

To find out more about the survey results go here.