Targeting Recreation

Managers familiar with marksmanship and hunting as recreational or competitive activities are acutely aware that patterns (groupings) created on the target by bullets or buckshot tell a lot about the shooter. Holes located below (or above) the bull’s-eye indicate the dropping of the barrel (or, conversely, the shooter’s body shifting backwards slightly) in anticipation of the recoil. Holes scattered all about the target may represent an “open choke” shotgun pattern (and vice versa), or more significantly, perhaps, inconsistency.

Just as important (if not more so) for managers, however, is noting where there are no holes. Plotting and recognizing programming patterns on a “target” like Figure 1 allows managers to check their aim, measure their accuracy, and sight-in on new markets.

12 Areas of Leisure

Leisure professionals conceptualize programming as a hierarchy composed of general program areas, which are implemented according to particular formats, and influenced by attributes. Edginton, Hudson, Dieser and Edginton describe a program (shown as the large “slices” or “wedges” in Figure 1 demarcated by solid lines) as a collection of similar leisure activities based on broad criteria.

The 12 areas so identified are:

The arts (music, dance, painting, etc.)

Literary activities (reading, writing, etc.)


Games, sports and athletics

Outdoor recreation

Social recreation

Self-improvement/educational activities

Wellness activities


Travel and tourism

Volunteer services

Family- and youth-oriented activities

Eight Program Formats

Within each of the 12 areas exist eight smaller slices or wedges (depicted in Figure 2 using dashed lines), representing program formats. Edginton, Hudson, Dieser and Edginton describe a format as being a structure, organization or method of presentation, such as:


Drop-in, Open and Rental



Special Event


Interest Group


Six Variables--Program Attributes

Program attributes are variables--continuums of choices--that affect the programming environment, depicted in Figures 1 and 2 as concentric circles or rings labeled as:


Low Risk--------------------------------------------------High Risk




Outdoor (area)-------------------------------------------Indoor (facility)

How To Use The Process

To actualize Figure 1, managers examine each of their programs individually, marking Xs at the appropriate locations on the target. For example, Figure 2 depicts the summer tennis programs offered by a municipal parks and recreation department. Most generally, tennis is classified within the Games, Sports, and Athletics program area (indicated by the gray slice in Figure 1). Next, the number of applicable formats is determined. In the tennis example, programs are offered in Competitive, Class, and Special Event formats: leagues, youth and adult instruction, and an annual countywide tennis tournament, respectively.

Along each of the attributes, the tennis programs are moderately to very active, moderately risky, highly structured, highly programmed, ranging from dual (singles matches) to team (league play), and are conducted outdoors on the local high school courts. While each X represents a programming “hit,” every unmarked space represents--temporarily anyway--a “miss”(-ed opportunity). This plotting of hits and misses is repeated for every program offered by a given organization, and the resulting pattern reveals both the overall scope and level of service and potential untapped markets.

Examining the target as a whole, the presence of Xs indicates which areas are currently being programmed, and which are not. Is the organization operating at capacity by offering only games, sports and athletics, or can it expand into other areas? At a more detailed level, are participants’ needs being completely fulfilled by the existing formats, or are there formats yet untried?

Tennis As An Example

Returning to the tennis example, isn’t it possible to co-sponsor a middle school / high school tennis club as a bridge between instruction and competition? Could tennis be promoted more successfully if the tennis courts were monitored to permit supervised open-court, drop-in, or reserved court time? Is the full range of each attribute continuum being addressed? Is backboard or ball machine rental available for individual practice? Could a partnership among tennis community entities be created to fundraise for a pavilion to cover and light the courts for year-round indoor programming and play? Is there plenty of seating for spectators--and TV viewing parties / receptions during professional tournament broadcasts--to accommodate more passive recreators?

Just as a shooter’s grouping reveals strengths and tendencies, the Integration of Areas, Formats and Attributes tool becomes another source of self-analysis for managers intent on aiming straight and hitting the programming bull’s-eye--and as much of the remaining target as desired--every time.

Kim Uhlik is Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at San Jose State University, where he coordinates the Leadership and Administration emphasis. He can be reached via e-mail at

Work cited:

Edginton, C.R., et al. Leisure programming: A service-centered and benefits approach. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004.