If you own or manage a sports club, the fast approaching Australian summer season may have you thinking about ways you can protect your club fields, courts, greens, or pools from the elements on days where the weather is less than pleasant (rain, hail, or too much shine). 

There are so many options out there for protective structures. High-quality shade sails or canopies that come in multiple forms offer varying degrees of protection from excessive sun exposure, ensuring that both players and spectators can enjoy the sport without the risk of heat-related issues such as heat-stroke and sunburn. Additionally, waterproof covers or shelters can shield fields or courts from rain or hail, allowing games and events to continue even during the most undesirable weather conditions. 

These measures not only protect the playing surfaces but also extend the usability of outdoor spaces, making the club more versatile and accommodating throughout the year. Plus, if you’re worried about the costs associated with adding shading structures to your outdoor club spaces, you’re in luck, as you may be eligible for a grant from either the government or private companies to assist with the expenses that accompany the construction of new infrastructure. If you want to learn more, you can check out this guide to grants for NSW sporting clubs by Greenline

Read on as we outline a few of the most common choices for protective structures for sports clubs across Australia. 

What are your options?

Shade sail

Shade sails are the perfect option for outdoor sports courts that don’t require extensive protection from UV and rain. They provide a decent amount of shade, making the playing area more comfortable during hot and sunny days while still allowing some natural light to filter through. It’s important to note that shade sails, while still effective in reducing sun exposure, offer the lowest level of UV protection compared to other types of shade structures. They also have minimal waterproofing, with their fabric shielding the desired space from light rain, but letting some water from heavier downpours seep through. 

Shade sails are easily customisable, consisting of fabric that can be easily tailored to the dimensions of the court or pool and held up in many different ways. This adaptability, along with their mild weather resistance, makes them the ideal shade solution for clubs that aren’t looking for a heavy-duty structure but rather a simple covering that provides a decent level of relief to competitors and spectators + protection for courts and other facilities. 


COLA stands for Covered Outdoor Learning Area – a term born from their extensive use across school play areas to provide protection from the elements in schools so that children can enjoy outside activities protected from the sun and rain. However COLAs are not just limited to school environments, and are a great choice for sports clubs that need heavy duty outdoor coverings. 

A Covered Outdoor Learning Area offers comprehensive sun protection and weather resistance, making it an ideal choice for larger sports facilities or multipurpose courts. These structures provide expansive coverage, shielding multiple courts or a large sports area under one durable shelter. With its permanent design, a COLA ensures consistent protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and other weather elements, allowing uninterrupted sporting activities throughout the year.

A COLA may suit your sports club if you host a number of different activities in a shared space and value the ability for sports to go ahead in adverse weather conditions so that you never have to put your club’s events on hold. 

Star Shades

Star shades are structures consisting of just one pole, and arms which hold a shade that extends outwards shading a relatively smaller space. They provide better protection than a shade sail, effectively shielding from UV and rainwater. Although most commonly implemented in playgrounds, they are a great alternative to cover smaller areas within sports clubs. 

A common application for star shades by sports clubs is the spectator area of swimming pools or various courts and fields. They are perfect for spectator areas as these are generally much smaller than the sports arena themselves yet require a good amount of shade and waterproofing to protect spectators from the sun and rain. 

You may even want to implement star shades in other common areas of your club, such as outdoor canteen seating spaces and play spaces for kids.

Here, we have outlined only a few common examples but there is so much more out there! Keep your members and the wider community safe from the elements this summer by considering the best suited protective coverings for your sports club.