Many youth sports leagues have encountered this dilemma: Everything is running smoothly, the organization is a success … and then, registration numbers experience a drop. Or perhaps the volunteer numbers aren’t as robust as normal, leaving directors scrambling to find coaches. Or even the general excitement level isn’t the same on opening day as it had been in past years.
These periods of malaise might be temporary for youth leagues — a variety of factors (bad weather, a poor economy, a group of parents who discover a different sport all at once) can dampen enthusiasm. However, this could also be a sign that an organization has deeper problems that are driving down registration. Either way, youth league directors can take steps to reverse the downturn and restore excitement for each season. Here are four tools available to amp up your youth league:
1. League management software
Many youth league shortcomings simply come from an inadequate website. Parents and coaches experience difficulty trying to find updated schedules online; administrators wrangle with bulky websites and simply give up on regular maintenance; and the site might be so uninspiring that it does nothing to promote the league, thus driving potential families to other choices. The latest wave of league management software can address all of these challenges. Websites using a quality solution are intuitive for all parties — parents find the info they need, coaches manage their rosters and efficiently communicate, and admins make easy updates. The sites look far better and are more effective tools in highlighting everything your youth league has to offer.
2. Online registration
Registration has always been a challenging process for directors and parents alike. However, it shouldn’t be so overwhelming to actually affect the number of kids who sign up to play for your youth league. Yet, that’s exactly what happens — parents don’t want to hassle with filling out a paper registration, writing a check, and mailing it all in. Admins might require so many hours to sort through the forms and create rosters that they don’t have as much time for other crucial duties at what might be the most important time of the offseason. Online registration streamlines the process so that parents are less likely to forget or ignore signing up their kids and directors are free to prepare for the season. Families simply register and pay through the youth league’s website, thus saving time and potentially boosting participation numbers for admins.
3. Video libraries
Many inexperienced coaches lose their enthusiasm for volunteering when they struggle to create practice plans that lead to player improvement. Moreover, players and parents might be looking for resources to work on skills at home. Adding video training libraries to your website makes you an important source of improvement that coaches and players will appreciate and turn to. Whether you are using third-party videos or creating your own (and your league’s players might love the opportunity to help with that), this online offering shows you care about not only giving kids the chance to play, but also helping them become the best players possible.
4. Active team pages
The best league management software gives organizations the option of setting up individual team pages. Coaches and families can post news, statistics, videos, and pictures to these pages, thus fostering a stronger community in which lasting friendships form among parents and players alike. The key is encouraging teams to use these pages and not let them languish. Show coaches and parents how easy the team page is to use. Seek out a website manager for each team who provides updates on a regular basis. Offer contests for the team that can post the most amazing or funny picture or video. Active team pages promote enthusiasm that can give your youth league a definite boost.