Morale is incredibly important within any club. Whilst keeping your members motivated and engaged is an important part of running your club, it can be challenging when you encounter the natural ups-and-downs of sport, like an unexpected loss or a run of bad form.

Overcoming this by (re)building morale is essential to keep your members engaged with the club, but how do you do that?

This post will explore ways that you can boost morale, spot dwindling morale, and some ideas for morale-boosting activities.

Why is keeping a positive attitude important?

Keeping a positive attitude and ensuring morale is high is vital for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s natural that your teams will have peaks and troughs each season. There will be losses, questionable penalties or fines, periods of poor form, and even unexpected injuries. Each of these can bring disappointment and frustration, which can lead to a dip in morale.

When supporters feel that morale is low, this can have an impact on the players of your teams, who may feel less supported, affecting the general atmosphere of your club.

Negativity breeds negativity, and low morale can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, leaving players uninspired to perform to the best of their abilitie,  and club supporters unmotivated to provide their usual solid support and goodwill.

Similarly, positivity breeds positivity - so if people are rallying behind your teams, and your players are determined to break that points dry spell, morale will improve too.

What are the warning signs of low morale?

  1. A negative attitude, whether it's from club staff or players.
  2. Reluctance. Being met with reluctance is often a sign of low morale. Are your members becoming more reluctant to help out with key club activities, e.g. attending matches, meetings, or participating in fundraising? These could be a sign that they don't want to be associated with the club.
  3. Lack of effort. A lack of effort from either club members or players could well point to a dip in morale. Are your players showing a reluctance to take chances? You want to see both players and club members giving 100%.

What can you do to boost morale?

1. Communication is key

Motivation can dwindle quickly when club members feel like they’re left in the dark, so work on developing a newsletter or a WhatsApp group where you can communicate with all of your members on a regular basis, keeping them in the loop with key events, sharing results and plans for the future. Developing this environment will allow club members and team players to feel supported when times are tough, while also feeling valued and important as information is shared with them.

2. Communication works both ways

While a newsletter or a WhatsApp group is an excellent forum for you to share information with your members, in order to boost morale, it’s important for you to enable communication both ways - allowing your members or your players to express when their morale is low, why that is and how they think the club can help.

Whether you’re hosting a club meeting or inviting your members to express their feelings in an informal setting, showing members how important they and their happiness are to the club is a good place to start.

3. Reward or incentivise

A quick way to boost morale within your club is to incentivise your members or players to work hard. You could offer a selection of prizes to give away for most goals scored, most funds raised or most volunteering hours clocked-up, or could look to host an awards ceremony at the end of the season where outstanding players or club members get recognised for their work.

It doesn’t matter whether your rewards or incentives are dished out ad-hoc using a little-and-often approach, or via a more formal awards ceremony. The important thing is that players and club members feel like they’re working towards something, and the element of competition or success should give them a little fire in their belly!

4. Make it fun

Whether your team is losing, riddled with injuries, or things simply aren’t going their way, when your club is lacking in morale it will also be lacking in fun. A surefire way of increasing the morale of your club members is to inject the fun back into the club - and there are a number of ways that you can do this.

Whether you have a budget for social activities or not, you should be able to come up with some quick, simple and fun events that will create a sense of community at the club and increase morale. Some ideas for this could be a monthly quiz, hosted by a different club member each month. You could ask all members to pay £2 entry to the quiz with the winner taking home the cash prize. If you’ve no budget - you could do something as simple as setting up a fantasy football league, allowing your club members to bond and discuss a fun hobby.

You could host friendly games giving club members the opportunity to play as well as the players. Themed dance events like Halloween or a summer ball. The premise is anything which will unite your club members, create an atmosphere of fun and pride in the club itself. Big budget or no budget, you can always make fun!

5. Own it

A good coach makes success about the team and takes responsibility for its failures. Or, to put it another way:

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan
– Old English proverb

A good manager or coach focuses their players on the positives, building them up and smashing through their negativity. Watch this short montage of Steve Kerr, Head Coach for the Golden State Warriors basketball team:

How to maintain good morale

Once you have a good level of morale in the club, it’s important not to get complacent. You should use the points above to boost morale further. Regularly plan events to engage your members, regardless of what happens on the pitch, court, track or pool.

WhatsApp groups, club newsletters and real-world social functions are incredibly important for keeping morale high away from matches - allowing both your members and players to feel included and valued as part of your club. Clubs can do this well by giving a shout-out to key players that week on Twitter, letting everyone know how important they and their actions were in the club's recent victory (or graceful defeat!).

Work to build an environment of friendship and support, which will help get your club through the tougher times.

For players, it’s important that motivation starts on the pitch and that the coaching staff are continuously working on morale within the teams, encouraging them to strive for success, improvement and build that desire to achieve.

Your club's overall environment should be fun and rewarding, and fans should enjoy showing up and supporting your teams, so it’s important to reward them with events like club nights, where you can bond with your supporters without breaking the bank (see our fundraising tips for ideas).

It’s also important to note that the impact of  thanking fans for their ongoing support should never be taken for granted. The same goes for thanking players for their time and effort. A club which shouts about appreciation and gratitude will be a club that retains its morale even when times get tough - so make sure you’re creating plenty of opportunities to show your appreciation.

Conclusion

Keeping club morale high can be one of the most difficult tasks, while also being the most important. We hope the tips and techniques above will help you achieve this. Did we miss something out? Let us know your top tips for improving and keeping club morale.