Doing Sport Differently

The Person is the Prototype

Written by Tom Dixon.

Participation in most traditional sports is in decline, and therefore testing of new ideas and products, such as social sport, is on the rise.

In innovation-speak, we repeatedly hear that we should ‘test fast, fail fast’ in order to learn quickly and I often think ‘what does this look like in sport?’.

I recently completed an online course through global Design Thinking giants IDEO. In it, I learnt about the concept of a prototype as something tangible which can be presented to a user for testing and feedback.

Prototypes can be:

  • Physical – such as an object which can be placed in the user’s hands
  • Digital – such as a sketch demonstrating potential functions for a mobile app
  • Experience – placing the user in the environment to let them experience the product

The third option has strong relevance for sport and physical activity programs.

How quickly can we get customers or participants into the proposed environment to test what works?

One of the most important things to test is the deliverer (the coach, instructor or facilitator).

In September, VicHealth and La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport & Social Impact released Doing Sport Differently – a set of six strategic insights to guide the design and delivery of social sport for less active people.

They found the choice of deliverer (coach, instructor, facilitator) to be a key factor influencing the success of social sport programs due to the deliverer being the person who makes people feel welcome, develops participants’ skills in an empathetic way and represents the organisation ‘on the ground’.

As sports test new programs, the following recommendations may be useful:

  • Recruit a deliverer with ‘soft’ skills like empathy, ability to modify sessions and a positive approach.
  • Train the deliverer to create an environment which supports the program purpose (e.g. social participation).
  • Invite people from the target audience for a free trial session to test responses to the deliverer – do this before developing a program name, logo etc.
  • Attend the program to observe and gain feedback from participants about the deliverer – did the deliverer make them feel welcome, did they create a positive experience, do you trust the deliverer to represent your organisation?

If you’re not confident they can engage the audience and represent your organisation effectively, focus your efforts on finding the right person.

Learn more about Doing Sport Differently through Vicsport’s upcoming Roadshows in Keysborough on November 21 and Werribee on November 29.

You may also be interested in...

Doing Sport Differently Roadshows

Vicsport will hit the road in late November, bringing Doing Sport Differently roadshows to the East and West of Victoria.


Government Partners

Preferred Suppliers