Most communities, from urban to rural, big to small, have some kind of youth sports league. It may be through the community center, the school district, a park district, or even just a recreation league at the local YMCA. But not matter how big or small your youth sports league may be all leagues need four things to be successful.
Eighty percent of youth sports coaches are actually parents (usually dads but moms make for great coaches, too) who volunteered to coach their child’s team.
Just because you played a sport back in the day that doesn’t automatically mean you know how to teach a group of young athletes those skills. But no matter how much personal coaching experience they may have, a successful sports league needs dedicated volunteers who are willing to step up as coaches and do the best they can to ensure their team has a great season.
Parents who aren’t comfortable volunteering to be coaches can still volunteer to carpool other kids to practice, help plan community tournaments, host team parties, and more. No sports team is an island and helping hands are always welcome.
Believe it or not there is actually a lot of paperwork that goes into managing a youth sports league. Never mind the thousands of registration forms the front office has to process each season, league administrators and coordinators have to coordinate field times for dozens of teams, hire, schedule, and pay officials, keep track of which registrants paid and which have not, order equipment and uniforms, schedule field maintenance, and more. A well-organized and dedicated front office is essential to keeping a youth sports league running.
With so many moving pieces it’s easy to imagine one simple mistake, like scheduling multiple games on the same field at the same time, could snowball into a major issue that impacts the whole league.
If you are a sports administrator looking to make your office more efficient consider moving from a paper-based registration system to an online registration system. Not only can parents and players register and pay online, you can also build teams and organize tournaments, run coach background checks, organize team communication, track money, and more.
Sports parents have a bigger impact on the league than they may realize. Patient, supportive, and passionate sports parents not only sign their children up to play each season, they also volunteer to coach teams, officiate games, practice with their players at home, and more. Great sports parents really make for happy players and coaches. “Those sports” parents, on the other hand, make game day miserable for everyone. A great league needs great sports parents to build the kind of community that makes players feel safe, supported, and excited to play.
And last but not least no sports league could possibly be successful without enthusiastic players! Most kids play youth sports because it is fun and they get to hang out with their friends, but along the way we hope they learn to love to play for the sake of the game. Most 6-year-olds aren’t asking to play soccer, but as kids get older they choose if they want to play or not, and as long as children and teens want to play sports they’ll need a sports league to play in!