Reports & Insights

How Women’s Sporting Journeys research has helped the grassroots sports sector so far

How Women’s Sporting Journeys research has helped the grassroots sports sector so far

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Reports & Insights

It’s been four months since we shared our Women’s Sporting Journeys: How to keep women engaged in sport throughout their lives report. The research aimed to provide valuable insights and recommendations to help drive positive changes in women’s sport. Below are some of the ways clients and key stakeholders have told us it has done just that.

The sector has gained a deeper understanding of the current landscape

Alongside the release of the full report, we have also shared the research through a number of presentations including the Women’s Sport Collective and Decathlon International Diversity and Inclusion Meeting. The presentations condensed key insights and actions for change from the research into a more digestible and interactive format. During those sessions, it was fantastic to hear women sharing their own sporting journeys and best practice examples from across the sector.


NGBs better understand the attitudes and behaviour of their participants

We shared sport specific data with participating NGBs to help them better understand the sporting journeys of their participants. This has enhanced their understanding of the motivations and barriers of women in their sport and how they compare to women across all sports. Several NGBs have used the research to make better informed decisions on the development of strategies and programmes.


One NGB that has found the research especially valuable is England Netball (EN). Rachel Gregg, Insight Analyst at England Netball, shared her thoughts on the programme.

The Women’s Sporting Journeys insight and the sport-specific netball insight also provided by SMS has been incredibly well received and really enhanced our understanding of what women value and the pain points they face throughout their lives. Netball participation is super squiggly, 7 in 10 women take a break at some point in their lives, much higher than any other team or individual sport. A woman’s relationship with netball is complex and each woman’s journey will be different.


Another interesting piece of insight this report uncovered was that netball is a go-to tool for boosting wellbeing, and most valued by women during mid-life. At EN we are currently using this insight to help bring to life the Game for Life pillar in our new Adventure Strategy – which sees us enrich our approach to growing the game, ensuring that netball is a sport for all at every stage of life. We’ve presented the findings at a workshop which helped to re-shape the purpose of our participation programmes and also used findings to shape a new, pioneering partnership with The Well HQ”.

Front line deliverers are inspired by actionable recommendations

One of the key focuses of our report was to recommend clear and specific actions for change based on the research findings. It was important for us to share this not just with those working in administration and management roles, but also those working on the front lines in sport. As one attendee said, “The takeaway for me is it’s the coach that makes the sessions”.


We translated our findings and highlighted realistic actions for change. We shared them with coaches in the Women’s Sport Collective, clubs at the British Orienteering Development Conference 2022, and appeared on the “Unlocking Fitness” podcast to talk about practical applications of our findings for coaches. Our aim for all presentations, posts, and articles is that people delivering sport take away and try one or two actions to make a positive change in women’s sport, no matter how big or small.


Stakeholders are informed by impartial evidence

We have worked with both Active Surrey and Active Sussex to inform, energise, and empower groups of local stakeholders. As an independent agency, our research provides impartial and trusted evidence to help organisations galvanize and inform local stakeholders of up-to-date research. We delivered sessions to local authority sports development officers, and a This Girl Can Network forum with the support of local ambassadors.

We are continuing to share our Women’s Sporting Journeys insights and recommendations across the sector. If you wish to talk to us about the research or a upcoming community sport research project please contact Hannah Sprake  (Senior Sports Development Insights Manager) at

Contact Hannah

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