If you saw our recent post on finding the best youth sports organizations in your community, you know that there's a lot that goes into a great league. But what if you went through your local leagues and came up empty? If you're truly passionate about your child or yourself being active in your local community, think participation in sports improves character, or are just simply passionate about community youth mentorship, then it might be time to consider starting your own league.
In a League of Your Own
It's no small feat to start a your own sports league. There's a lot of planning, organization, and even some marketing involved. To help get you on the right track, we've compiled 7 tips for starting a youth sports organization, league or team in your own community.
7 Tips for Starting A Youth Sports League in Your Community
1. Location, location, location.
You need to know this before you try to do anything else. Before anyone can decide if they’d like to get involved with your fledgling league, they will first want to know what the commute is like. Speak to representatives of your local parks, schools, sports complexes, activity centers, and neighborhood fields to find somewhere that fits your budget and size needs.
2. Make a budget.
Speaking of your budgetary needs, it’s time to lay those out. What is your financial goal -- are you starting a profitable business, or do you just need enough to cover expenses? How do you plan to collect membership fees? A service like Venmo or PayPal is ideal because they minimize cash handling and provide an automatic record of transactions. Sit down and figure out how much you’ll need per registrant to cover a facility, referees, equipment, and uniforms. And don’t forget that if you use SquadLocker to outfit your league, you won’t need to chase any of that cash down -- OR struggle with sizing “guesstimates” -- because uniform orders are placed by and shipped to the individual players. We can also help you design a logo and get your gear shipped in two weeks or less; one less hurdle between you and your first game.
3. Introduce yourself.
Once you’ve secured a place to play and formulated a budget, it’s time to give your organization some structure and presence. Create a social media account on a platform that you think will be attractive to your target demographic and use it to broadcast each exciting step as you pull together your league. Spread the word to friends and family and recruit them to join and cross-promote. Your social media page is also a great place to lay out the rules and standards of behavior to which you will adhere.
4. Get what you need.
Now it’s time to purchase any equipment you’ll need. Before you buy, find out what (if anything) will already be provided by your chosen facility. To help save on costs, consider asking local businesses to sponsor your team in exchange for wearing their logo on your apparel or using it in any promotional materials. SquadLocker offers digital coupons for just this purpose (and others!). Ask local businesses or organizations to donate digital coupons to help sponsor your player's uniforms.
5. Stay organized.
You’ll almost certainly want your roster to include each player’s first and last name, jersey number, phone number, and parent contact (if applicable), but you can also choose to include other information you need easily accessible; just keep it manageable and up-to-date. For a template and more suggestions on organizing your roster, see our blog post here. It’s a good idea to keep all your league-related documents in one place; Google’s suite of office tools is a great place to organize your records, but make sure that you keep any personal information secure in accordance with any and all privacy laws. Keep your passwords strictly confidential.
6. Cover your bases.
Keeping your players healthy is one of the most important considerations for any sports league commissioner at the best of times, but it is even more imperative -- and challenging -- in the current environment. Make sure that your COVID protocols are up to par by following the steps laid out in SquadLocker’s eBook, Building Your Return to Play Plan.
7. Time to play!
Be sure to take lots of photos and post them back to social media, and create your own hashtag to make it easy for players to tag and promote your brand new league - and if you have fans who want to show their colors right off the bat, SquadLocker can help you set up a spirit wear and uniform store. Now, tell the coach to put you in -- you’re ready to play!
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