Some of the best memories parents have of their own childhoods are the time spent playing team sports. Friendships—not just among kids, but entire families—were formed. Skills were learned. Victories were rejoiced. Losses were graciously accepted. Little communities, both among teams and league-wide, were formed.
As parents, coaches, and league directors, that’s what we want for the kids who play team sports today. Finding that community in 2016, however, can be tricky. Life seemingly moves faster for families, who may have less time to volunteer or even stick around to chat after practices and games. Competitive teams pull good players out of rec leagues at earlier and earlier ages. Parents load up activities for their kids, ultimately leaving less focus for each.
Yet, communities still form via youth sports, friendships are strengthened, and memories are created. A sports team management app can help with this community building; here are four ways how:
1. Team webpages
The best online league management software offers individual pages for each team in your organization. These sites provide a tremendous opportunity for teams to become more than just a roster. Coaches can post messages to parents, parents can communicate with each other, photos and videos can be uploaded (more on that in a moment), and important functions such as snack schedules and volunteer opportunities can be organized. Families who bookmark a team page know they will be able to visit the site and learn everything that needs to be known about the team. Parents and coaches better connect with each other via a sports team management app, thus building a community that might not otherwise exist if players are merely dropped off at practices and games.
2. Photos and videos
Before the Internet, most action photos from sports leagues were taken by parents, hardly shared (unless they had multiple copies printed), and thrown into a picture album, never to be seen by anyone outside individual families. Videos may have been shot, watched on a VCR, and, also, never shared. The Internet changed all that, and sports management apps further made it simpler for anyone—league directors, coaches, and parents—to post content to share with the community. Besides showcasing all your league has to offer to prospective players and their parents, photos (either generally posted to a homepage or as part of a slideshow) and videos give families a reason to keep visiting your website and be part of the community.
3. Individual player cards
A goal of youth sports is for players to come away from the experience with a sense of accomplishment—that they worked hard, were recognized for their efforts, and had fun. The best sports management apps celebrate this accomplishment with individual player cards that can be created within the software. Pictures, whether they are portraits from the league’s photo day or action shots that parents and coaches upload, serve as the visual element of the player cards; statistics that are already online, compiled within the app, can be included. These player cards can exist online and also be printed out. Besides offering the thrill for young players to have trading cards just like the pros, this sports team management app also builds community: Kids can print out their whole team—all their friends.
4. Parent participation
Pardon us if this sounds cliché, but a youth sports league is only as strong as the parents involved with it. Organizations lucky enough to have parents who are willing to volunteer with the concession stand, field prep, fundraisers, and so on, generally are more successful than leagues in which families are apathetic. Moreover, teams with parents who organize snack schedules, help coaches during practice, and facilitate off-the-field activities tend to stay together year after year. A sports team management app fosters this participation by delivering news that volunteers are needed, offering easy-to-consult online snack schedules, and featuring robust communication tools so that parents can easily contact and interact with each other. This builds and strengthens community, thus increasing the likelihood your league will thrive.
How strong is the sense of community in your league?