Clubs Set up a club


How to start a sports club - Introduction

This guide is intended for anyone thinking of starting a new community sports club - for adults or juniors.  It takes you through some of the questions and processes that you need to consider if you are to establish a successful new club.  In each step, we've signposted and linked you to the various resources on Help for Clubs that are available to help you.

Step 1: Check whether there are existing clubs in

There's little point in duplicating something that already exists.  So, no matter how good your ideas are for a new club, please do first check around to see whether anything similar already exists in your town or neighbourhood.  Some places to start include:

  •  Check our Club Finder
  •  Local library and other information centres who are likely to maintain directories of local clubs
  •  Local newspapers, to see if there are any reports from established clubs
  •  TheBasketball England website clubs page

Step 2: Make sure there is reasonable demand

There is a minimum number of people required to make any club viable.  With Basketball Clubs, it is important to sustain at least 15 participants in order to club to grow and develop. 

You probably know two or three other people who share your interest in forming a new club.  Now is the time to build a list of potential members.  At this stage you're not asking people for subscriptions or playing commitments; you're want to build a potential membership list of people who might join any new club.

There are many ways of doing this:

  • Organise an open meeting and publicise it well through the local papers, sports centres and other outlets
  • For a junior club, talk to the Schools Games Organisers in your local area
  • Publish your ideas in local papers and welcome feedback
  • Arrange a leaflet distribution around the estate or community and ask people to get in touch with you

Step 3: Ensure buy in from BDO & Local Council

There are three organisations that should be able to help you as each of them is committed to helping develop sport throughout the community.  You should make contact with each of them, and find out what practical help they can offer.  They are:

  • The Basketball Development Officer, Dave Alexander, who works to develop clubs
  • The Local Authority which is likely to have a sports or leisure department; they can help with the hiring or letting of sports facilities; they may have small grants for new clubs; and their officers may be able to give you practical advice.
  • The County Sports Partnership brings together many local sports clubs; there is a wealth of expertise that you can draw on here to help you get off to the best start.

Make sure you speak to each of these groups in the early stages of forming your new club

Step 4: Put the basics in place

Whilst some very small clubs can manage with just one person running the show, it's usually a good idea to recruit a few people to form a small club committee.  This helps to spread the load by dividing out the tasks, and also brings different ideas and skills into your club.  Once you give your club a name and form a committee, you have effectively become what is known as an 'unincorporated association'.  With a simple constitution and some club officers you can then open a bank account to manage your club's money.  You can find information below which may help you make these important decisions:

This section of the ClubMark website explains more about becoming an unincorporated association and whether you might also consider becoming a charity or a recognised 'Community Amateur Sports Club'.

This section on Constitutions gives you some downloadable templates that you can edit to suit your needs and also gives info on roles within a club.

Please click on this link to view more information on how to effectively run a meeting

As your club grows, you may need to consider other legal structures but you can return to these in due course. Of course, no club can exist without a group of active and enthusiastic volunteers to keep it going - and preferably expanding. Have a look at our volunteer section for some ideas

Step 5: Secure the initial funding and facilities

This can be one of the hardest parts of getting started.  Most clubs begin with some initial funds subscribed by the members and then realise that they need additional monies and resources if they are to become successful.  There are probably more sources of help than you have imagined.

The range of funding options includes club-based fund-raising activities, local authority support, Awards for All, sponsorship, other Lottery funds, and collaborative agreements with other sports bodies. See our funding section for some ideas on getting started

Step 6: Get an attractive sports programme going

What brings people into clubs and an interesting and enjoyable programme of sport.  So the first thing you need to focus on is getting the sports programme together.  Depending on your members, you'll need to decide whether to pitch your activities at novices, juniors, seniors, experienced players or elite players.  With only a small number of members you probably need to focus on a more limited number of levels; if members are always playing against people of very different skills and abilities, it can be hard to sustain motivation. 

As your club grows, you will probably want to develop a more coherent 'player pathway' to encourage progression from recreational or novice players to more competitive and experienced levels of play.  Don't forget that many members also enjoy the social side of any club and the opportunity to make new friends; your programme may include social activities as well as playing activities.

Step 7: Join local competitions and leagues

Many of the more experienced players will want to have some competitive activities and for this you're likely to have to look outside your own club.  With sufficient members, you can organise your own internal club leagues, ladders and competitions.

Check out our leagues page for further information on leagues your club can become involved in. 

Step 8: Develop policies and procedures

Whilst most members don't want to spend too much time on club administration, there is a certain level of procedural work that you will need to do if the club is to keep running along smoothly.  Some of the questions that you may be faced with include:

  • Who do we want to encourage to join us as members?
  • Are we going to involve juniors in our club?
  • If we do have children and young people, how do we protect them?
  • What are the health and safety considerations that affect our sport, our use of equipment, and our premises and facilities?
  • How do we support the volunteers that are contributing to our club?

Many other clubs have already tackled these issues, so to save you 'reinventing the wheel' we've brought together several useful guides and help pages here in a Club Resources pack.

Step 9: Start to plan for the longer term success

If your club just keeps the same members and doesn't review its activities, it runs the risk of becoming static and eventually withering away as members drift off.  A healthy club is one that has a regular influx of new members and a periodic change in office-bearers on the committee.  It has a mix of recreational, competitive and social activities.  And it's regularly thinking about the future.

 You don't have to be ambitious, provided you keep reviewing whether your club is doing with the current and potential future members actually want.  If you look around at other clubs, you'll find that they may be recruiting more younger members (the members of the future), looking to expand their facilities, starting new competitions or joining new leagues, or providing more training and coaching for their members.  There are many options for developing your club - you just need to decide which is the most appropriate.

  • The Club Section of our website introduces this whole area and gives you some tools and ideas for growing your club
  • The Youth Sport pages on the Sport Nottinghamshire website focus specifically on children and young people and you may get some helpful information here
  • The Coaching Section on the Sport Nottinghamshire website offers plenty of guidance on where to find or train coaches and how improved coaching can help to develop your club
  • The Funding Section on Sport Nottinghamshire looks at all the options for raising more money to pay for these developments - from local fund-raising events to applications to the National Lottery

Step 10: Have fun and celebrate your successes!

It can be hard work as well as rewarding to be involved in the establishment and running of a community sports club.  So don't forget to take time out to enjoy it and celebrate all your successes:

  • Create your own club competitions and award medals and trophies to the winners
  • Keep a photographic record of your activities, and publish details in your member newsletters
  • Organise some social events that bring members together across all ability levels
  • Host an annual dinner or awards ceremony to provide a focal point for recognising the achievements of your members and your club.
  • Speak the language of the young and Embrace Social Media, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.

Basketball England Guidance

  • Find an available basketball court and get a few friends down to play. To keep costs to a minimum try to negotiate a price for multiple weeks.
  • Contact Basketball England about coaching qualifications. Ensure that whoever coaches the team is qualified to the minimum standards required.
  • Contact Nottinghamshire Basketball Association, to affiliate the club and players to ensure the club and players have the appropriate Public Liability insurance.
  • Form a small organising committee with specific roles and responsibilities. Typical posts might include a Club Secretary, Coach and Treasurer. You can find further information via Club Development & Good Practice 
  • Set up a club bank account with at least two signatories to ensure you can recieve and pay out money.
  • Market the club by creating as much publicity and exposure for your club as possible using posters, flyers, local newspapers and local radio. Send these; local Schools and the Local Authority the club opperates within your area and also to Laura Doherty who can promte the sessions on your behalf.
  • If your target market is juniors then find your nearest Schools, College’s and Universities where you can set up a formal Club-School link.
  • For further club development assistance contact via email


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