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A Guide to Attracting Sponsors

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Sports Today

Beneath the success of our beloved youth teams are the pillars of success holding them up high: the time donated by our selfless volunteers, the coaches and athletes putting in countless hours to perform their best, and the board ensuring the financial requirements to keep going.

An unfortunate truth with youth sports today is that leagues are susceptible to folding just like any other business.  From 2009-2014, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) found that in over 17 sports, youth participation fell by 9.09%, or 4.5 million kids.  When there aren’t enough kids to play in a region, the local sports associations will sometimes be forced to shut down.  I have seen too many posts beginning with “we regret to inform you…” by sports associations who couldn’t finance their leagues, leaving many children without the option to play close to home.

attracting sponsors

What About Sponsorship?

Let’s put the brakes the doom and gloom, because things don’t have to be that bad (and if you feel like I put a damper on the outlook for your club, a comprehensive study by the Physical Activity Council has found that in the most recent years, team sports participation has actually increased!).

One of the best ways for a club to remain operational is through sponsorship.  Your town’s local businesses provide the funding for a lot of club activities and help to cover the costs of travel, uniforms, equipment, media, and field/arena time.  By extension (and most importantly), they help keep registration costs down which lowers the entry barriers for families who otherwise couldn’t afford it.  Ultimately sponsors help to strengthen the community by ensuring that a higher number of kids get into team sports.

Why Businesses Will Sponsor You

The decision to invest any money into something is based on a number of things.  Although it is true that local companies will sponsor clubs to strengthen the community, it would be naive to assume that goodwill alone is the only factor in this decision. The exposure is a relatively inexpensive way of marketing the company to it’s target group.  This is very important to remember when approaching decision makers, but I’ll go over this a little more below.

Additionally, advertising with youth sports is a welcome alternative to typical methods; consumers usually tune out regular ads, but tend to support businesses that support local youth.  Finally, as most youth sports organizations are registered charities, businesses can receive tax breaks for their sponsorship activities.

Where to Look

Almost any type of business has the potential to become a sponsor.  Some of the most receptive types include:

  • Restaurants
  • Car Dealerships
  • Fitness Centers
  • Real Estate Companies
  • Sports Equipment Stores
  • Construction/Home Improvement Companies
  • Law Firms
  • Dentist Offices
  • Grocery Stores
  • For the most part any B2C (business to consumer) companies would be considered a great place to look.

How to Ask

One of the first mistakes organizers make when reaching out to sponsors is placing their own passion for the game above the needs of their sponsors.  As I mentioned above, remember that sponsorship is still a business decision, and there are probably many other local schools and sports groups looking for money in the same area you are.

The best way to approach this is from the perspective of the company.  Along with describing what their dollars will go towards for the league, present them with some tangible information that they can digest to aid their brand strategy.  Include figures such as number of registrants each season, number of parents on your mailing list, web traffic numbers to your site, and anything else that will let them know they’ll be seen.  The company also needs to know that the people who will see their brand will also be the people that lie in their target demographic, so include information about this as well.  For example, a pharmacy may be interested to know the number of grandparents who are on the mailing list and attend games regularly.

If you’d like to see this in a little more detail, check out my next post where I’ll leave you with some sponsorship ask templates that you can use directly or tailor to your club specifically.

Practice Curriculum for 13 & 14 Year Old Soccer Team

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coaching

Over the last couple of weeks I have covered a practice curriculum for nine & ten year olds as well as a plan for elevens & twelves, along with a few reminders to keep in mind during your practice time. Now it’s on to the thirteen and fourteen year olds. What I can’t stress enough is that the curriculum below may be too advanced or it may not push your team as much as you’d like. What I think is important is that you have a plan of attack for where you would like to bring the group along.

Technical Guidelines

  • Passes – on the ground and in the air – are accurate over 20 to 30 yards, delivered with the correct weight and to the proper side of the receiver.
  • Some “position specific” or functional technical training.
  • Heading with a jump:  accurate headers at the goal, effective defensive heading.
  • Volleys and half volleys, shooting from crosses.
  • Lots of shooting under pressure: always hitting the frame of the goal with hard shots, aggressive attitude about trying to hit the sides of the net.
  • Fluid turns under pressure.
  • Slide tackles.
  • Beginning to swerve the ball.
  • Receiving air balls as well as ground balls effectively.

Tactical Guidelines

  • Developing good verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Making good choices about when to pass, dribble, or shoot.
  • Looking for the third attacker when in possession of the ball; solid grasp of playing in triangles.
  • Exposure to various systems: 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 3-4-3, etc.
  • Ways to create space for a teammate.
  • Understanding offside.
  • Appreciating variables: weather, size and condition of the field, etc.
  • Awareness of the situation during a game: ahead, behind, tied, time left.
  • Asking for the ball from the ball possessor at the right moment.
  • Roles of the players on the field in the three “blocks”: forwards, midfielders, and backs.
  • Some “position specific” or functional tactical training.
  • Takeovers and blind side runs (to go with wall passes and overlaps) : ways for two attackers to outplay one defender.
  • Secure tactical sense about shooting: generally to the far post as opposed to the near post, low rather than high, etc.
  • A really aggressive, dynamic attitude about shooting.
  • Using deception: looking one way, passing another, for example.
  • Understanding defenders’ priorities: intercept the ball, tackle at the moment your opponent receives the ball, etc.
  • Defenders understanding how to “shepherd” attackers, how to push them wide.
  • Roles of the first and second attackers and defenders in 2 v 2 situations: ideas for combination play, pressing, cover.
  • Understanding defensive pressure, cover, and balance.
  • Always thinking ahead!

Fitness Guidelines

  • Nothing without the ball.
  • No strength or endurance work for its own sake.

The Practice Environment

  • A learning environment.
  • Vigorous, pressured activities and intense, competitive games are the core of practice.
  • Tactical problems to solve at every practice.
  • Lots of 2 v 1 and 2 v 2 duels.
  • 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 games at every practice.
  • Practicing situations and restarts: corners, free kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins.
  • Lots of refined, incisive technical and tactical advice and suggestions from the coach.
  • # 5 ball, regular goals.
  • The week’s practice is 90 minutes long.

Games

  • Beginning to specialize by position.
  • Equal playing time.  Allow everyone to start at some time during the season, hopefully several times.  This allows them to experience both tasks… starting strong, and coming off the bench.  Both VITAL for their development!
  • Stress on fair play, following the spirit of the game.
  • Understanding the importance of good pre-game warm-up and post-game warmdown.
  • Ability to adjust during game.

Practice Curriculum for 11 & 12 Year Old Soccer Team

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Coaching with Jeff Pill

In last week’s post, I covered a practice curriculum for nine and ten year olds, along with a few reminders to keep in mind during your practice time. Now it’s on to the eleven and twelve year olds. As previously stated, the curriculum below may be too advanced, it may not push your team as much as you’d like. What I think is important is that you have a plan of attack for where you would like to bring the group along. 

Technical Guidelines

  • Kicking with the inside and the outside of the instep.
  • Chipping.
  • Effective shielding from the immediate opponent.
  • Disguise in dribbling: body feints, change of speed and direction, wrongfooting defenders.  Learning three or four moves to use to beat a defender.
  • Beginning of consistent practice of heading – regular, but not much.
  • Side block tackle.
  • Shoulder charging.
  • Shooting bouncing balls: volleys and half-volleys.
  • Now, in receiving balls, players consciously set up their second touch with their first touch.

Tactical Guidelines

  • Switching the direction of play or the point of attack.
  • The overlap.
  • Awareness of the different “climates” in the three thirds of the field: attack, midfield, defense.
  • Continuing to focus on the “three main moments”, with particular emphasis on transition.
  • Understanding the difference between passing to feet and passing to space.
  • Good body position when asking for the ball: facing field or sideways, watching ball and immediate opponent, etc.
  • Making good choices about trying to penetrate or protecting the ball, based on whether or not there is pressure when you receive the ball.  Consistently intelligent first touches upon receiving.
  • Reading the body position of a defender: hips square or hips turned, has she or he committed to winning the ball or not?, etc.
  • Understanding the difference between losing the ball and giving it away.
  • Correct body position of defenders challenging for the ball:  “turned, not square.”
  • Positioning “ball side” as well as “goal side” in marking.
  • Second defender covering the first defender.
  • Solid defensive understanding against one opponent and when confronted by two opponents.

Fitness Guidelines

  • Nothing without the ball.
  • No strength or endurance work.

The Practice Environment

  • “Play time” and a learning environment.
  • Some pressured play in confined areas; games of numbers up and numbers down; one of the best is 5 v 2.
  • No specializing by positions.
  • Duels at full speed: lots of 1 v 1 and 2 v 1 situations.
  • 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 games at every practice.
  • # 4 or # 5 ball; small goals.
  • Emphasis still on technical development: the acquisition of skills.
  • The week’s practice is 75 to 90 minutes long.

Games

  • Equal playing time.  Allow everyone to start at some time during the season, hopefully several times.  This allows them to experience both tasks… starting strong, and coming off the bench.  Both VITAL for their development!
  • 6 v 6 or 7 v 7.  “Eleven after eleven”:  eleven players on a team after eleven years of age.
  • Players play all the “positions”.
  • Friendship tournaments.
  • Focus on enjoyment and the future: no stress on winning

As previously mentioned, be sure to subscribe and check back next week for my curriculum for thirteen and fourteen year olds.

Practice Curriculum for 9 & 10 Year Old Soccer Team

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coaching2

The fall season is nearly upon us so I have included some curriculum ideas for each of the age levels. 9-10 year olds will be the 1st of 3 age group curriculums. I will be posting the 11-12 and 13-14 year old plans in the coming weeks.

Of course, listing these out is a somewhat fearsome task.  This is because no two teams are ever exactly the same.  Each group of players has their own, unique needs.  You may take a look at the list and say, “This group is already way beyond that!”  Or, “There is NO WAY that we can get there!”  Fair enough, I think what is important is that you have a plan of attack for where you would like to bring the group along. 

Also, I have included some “reminders” that are ALWAYS good to keep in mind; I always found it helpful to be reminded of the basics.  We find ourselves having to train in bad weather, the players have gotten comfortable and at times take liberties with their attention (is that a nice way of saying things), we are running out of ideas to keep the players focused, the conflicts with school soccer are getting aggravating… that sort of thing.

So, towards that end:

REMINDERS:

  1. The game is the best teacher.  The majority of training time should be spent PLAYING the game.  They are at a stage where they are no longer “training” but, “practicing”.  In other words, they are stabilizing what they have learned instead of learning “new stuff”.  So, players need to be exposed to playing the game, in a variety of forms, to become consistent in their play.
  2. Limit the amount and duration of your coaching points that disrupt the flow of the game.  The “freeze” method of coaching is profitable at times… but, it has its drawbacks as well.  If you must “freeze” play, try to limit your talking to 15 seconds.  Remember, they learn far more from playing the game than they do from us “talking” about the game.  Better yet, if you do “freeze” the play, then “show and go”.  In other words, SHOW them what is needed, then get them going playing again as soon as possible.
  3. When faced with decisions which require us to choose between player development and winning league play games… always go with the player development!  As an example, I was observing an Express game the other day where the coach put a player who normally plays forward back to a central back position.  This was done in a “close” game, and as a result provided the team with some scary moments as mistakes were made that could have led to goals being scored.  However, after a while, the player started to get the hang of it, made some improvements, and certainly developed as a player.  Now, instead of relying on his superior athleticism to solve a problem, he is solving the problems that the game presents him with his brain, and positioning sense.  He is making strides as a player. This resulted from making a decision that benefited the player’s development instead of the goal of winning the game.  Of course, I do not think that the two factors are mutually exclusive.  If managed correctly (i.e.:  handling substitution patterns and time training this during practice times), both can be accomplished, playing to win AND developing the players.
  4. Keep technical training a priority.  Use small sided games in practice (1v1, 2v1, 3v3).  This gives them the MOST touches on the ball, and puts them in a competitive arena where they have to solve a problem and apply their technique.
  5. Have fun and play with the players when possible and appropriate.  They learn a lot by emulation!

Nine and Ten Year Olds

Technical Guidelines

  • Turning with the ball through 180 degrees, continued, with soles of feet, insides, and outsides – now, “More speed, bend your knees more, get your head up, don’t get the ball stuck under you!”
  • Practice changes of speed and direction with the ball.  Guiding the ball at a 45 degree angle off a straight line:  the technical rudiments of beating an opponent with a dribble.
  • Perhaps some “Coerver training”:  dribbling and feinting moves, and these moves practiced under pressure.
  • Stronger and more accurate instep kicks over 15 to 20 yards.
  • The essentials of heading are introduced, but very little time spent on heading.
  • Continuing to master receiving ground balls with the insides and outsides of the feet.  With an accurate “first touch” getting into a running stride to dribble, or setting up a pass or a shot.  Should be comfortable with the insides and outsides of both feet.
  • “Driving” or “cruising” with the ball:  running fast with the ball, generally in straight lines.
  • Shielding the ball effectively, “sideways on” to the defender.
  • Continuing to coordinate the nervous system and the muscles.
  • Shooting accurately – keeping the ball in the frame of the goal – with the insides of the feet and the insteps.
  • Front block tackle.

Tactical Guidelines

  • Positioning goal side of attackers when you lose the ball:  cutting off the path to the goal.  Marking opponents tightly.
  • Elemental idea of support:  helping the player with the ball.  “Form a pair” with the player on the ball; other players should stay away and make the field big.
  • Don’t wait for the ball – go to it!
  • Playing away from pressure when you receive a ball – and move it at a new angle.
  • Getting free of markers:  “checking off” and creating space for yourself.  “Make an area of green grass around you!”
  • Wall pass, the give-and-go, the 1 – 2.  Beginning to build up options for the two attackers in a two versus one situation.
  • Lots of 1 v 1 confrontations to perfect timing in attack and defense.  Continued emphasis on the “three main moments of soccer”.
  • Building up an aggressive attitude about shooting.
  • Recognizing when you’re under pressure and when you’re not under pressure when you receive a pass.
  • Beginning to establish a vocabulary of communication.
  • Players should be looking up and around and away from the ball, on both attack and defense.  No “ball watching”.

Fitness Guidelines

  • Nothing without the ball.
  • No strength or endurance training.

The Practice Environment

  • Practice is a combination of “play time” and a learning environment.
  • Some pressured play in confined spaces.
  • No specializing by positions.
  • #4 ball, small goals.
  • The week’s practice is 75 minutes long.

Games

  • Equal playing time.  Allow everyone to start at some time during the season, hopefully several times.  This allows them to experience both tasks… starting strong, and coming off the bench.  Both VITAL for their development!
  • 4 v 4 or 5 v 5 or 6 v 6.
  • Friendship tournaments; not more than three halves for any player in a weekend.
  • Players play all the “positions”.
  • No stress at all on winning and losing.  Total focus is on enjoyment and the future; virtually no mention of results.

As previously mentioned, be sure to subscribe and check back next week for my curriculum for eleven and twelve year olds.

5 Tips to Branding your Youth Sports Club

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When people think about the local sports club you and your children are involved in, what do you think comes to mind first? Is this the image you hope the community has for the association? If it is, then it’s important for you to actively work to preserve this culture and have it adopted by management and members for years to come. If there’s a gap between your ideal club image and what really exists, you may want to upgrade some items to “high priority” for your next board meeting.

Football Line of Scrimmage

It’s estimated that 35 million kids between 5 and 18 played in an organized sport in the US in 2014. For those of you keeping score, that’s roughly the population of Canada! This has spawned an enormous amount of recreational, developmental, and competitive leagues and clubs across North America. Although youth sports aren’t governed in the same way as other goods and services, they are part of a very real industry and each organization should have a marketing plan and branding strategy in place the same way businesses do.

Why should I spend so much energy on this?

Whether youth sport participation is increasing or decreasing in a given year, building a strong brand will ensure the organization’s increased and/or repeat registration. A strong brand creates word of mouth discussion among our [sport] mom and dads who will typically refer your club to the exact demographic you want to attract (geographically, financially, and with kids of their own). Your brand can drive excitement, motivation, and expectations to potential future players and parents. Once part of your club, this brand continues to work by providing a perceived value, trust, and loyalty to members.

Okay, but we aren’t a marketing team, we’re a sports club. How do we do this?

Proper branding requires a thorough, active, and adaptable strategy in order to meet the needs of all those involved.  Don’t worry though, you don’t need to be a branding guru to ensure that you’re club is successful.  Implementing some tools and rough guidelines will help you to create a culture around your association that parents will respect and trust.

1. Know who you are.  First off, make sure you know what you want your brand to be representative of, which should be related to your league’s mission and vision.  Whether your main focus is to make a positive impact on your community or to provide elite level training to channel kids towards the big leagues, have your branding activities reflect this. Read more

Create professional online forms with TeamPages

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TeamPages Forms

TeamPages offers a robust form feature that allows you to create any kind of form you need to help manage your team, club, or league. Here are just a few examples of forms that come in handy:

  • Online Registration
  • Volunteer Sign-up
  • Jersey/uniform orders
  • Collecting online payments

The form editor is a simple drag and drop interface that allows you to build any kind of form structure you wish.  We offer dropdown menus, radio buttons, text inputs, and more!  We also have features to make it easier for your members to fill out multiple forms.  Let’s dive in!


How to Create a New Form

Go to the settings area for the team, club, or league you wish to create the form for.TeamPages form

Navigate to the form settings area and click ‘add+’.TeamPages form

An additional navigation bar will show up at the top.  We will be covering the first step: entering our form fields.TeamPages form

You will see all the form builder options on the left and your new form on the right.TeamPages form

Double click on your form title to edit it.  At any point in the form creation process, you can double click on a form item to edit the text.form5

We recommend that you put a brief introduction to your form at the top, below the title.  This is a great place to include any necessary instructions you need to communicate to your users.  You can also add multiple instructions boxes throughout your form if needed, using the ‘instructions’ form element.

Decide which type of form element best suits each of your questions.  Here are some things to consider when framing a question:

  1. Do you want to allow people to select multiple options?
  2. Does your question require an answer to a previous question?
  3. In what order to the questions make the most sense?
  4. Does your form have clear sections?

It is easier to view results from a survey that has used default answers (such as radio buttons or dropdown selection boxes) than text input fields (where people can write anything they want).  A text input field allows people to answer in their own words, but can be confusing to understand from an administrators perspective.  Try to be as clear as possible, and keep things short and simple.

As you go, you can drag and drop questions around to re-arrange the form.

Each form element has the type of element at the top (not viewable by end users), the title underneath (this is the question viewable by end users) and the possible answers/fields.  Here is an example of a multiple choice element before being edited and after. I have given it a question by double clicking and editing the title and I have filled out the options.  You can add more than the number of options by selecting the blue ‘add option’ link the corner. When you hover over an option, you have the ability to delete it.
TeamPages form

If you decide you do not need a form element, you can remove it from your form by clicking ‘remove’.TeamPages form

If you are collecting contact information, there are form elements specifically for this.  Use the phone form element rather than a plain text field because the phone element will only accept numbers, not letters.  Likewise, the email field will only accept a valid email address. This helps to ensure that your form gets filled out correctly. If you would like to be able to message members who fill out this form, you must collect an email address using the ‘email’ field option. TeamPages form

If you would like to separate your form into sections, you can use the line separator form element to create blocks.  You may also wish to add some instructions for each section if the form is complex or quite long.  Breaking up content makes it easier and more enjoyable for people to process.TeamPages form

If you have form fields that you absolutely need to get answered, make sure you mark them as ‘required’.  Marking a form element as required makes it impossible for the form to be submitted before the question(s) is answered. Simply click on the grey asterisk next to the field name and it will turn red to indicate that the field is required.TeamPages form

Some of your users may need to fill out your form more than once (for example, a parent might want to register three kids).  You can make this process easier by toggling on the copy field icon.  This icon will keep the field information for all the forms that a user fills out. For example, you may have an address field.  If you toggle the copy field icon on for this field, the user will only have to fill this out once. Every subsequent form they fill out will have their address saved.TeamPages form


We hope this post on creating professional forms with TeamPages has been helpful! For more information about form creation, including collecting payments, see this help article.  You can get in touch with us anytime at support@teampages.com, or at 1-800-500-7203 Monday-Friday 9-5 PST.