Creating a Winning Recreational Sports Team
The rec sports season is almost here! If you’re looking to get some exercise, meet new people, practice in the offseason, or wave around a team flag cheering on your friends, rec leagues are one of the best ways to accomplish all of that this spring. Whether you’re a recreational league coach, player, fan, or parent, these are five guidelines to ensure your team’s success this season:
1. CREATE LEAGUE CAMARADERIE
This starts with the initial contact email and needs to be the central theme for your leadership strategy. A positive and energetic buzz will ensure that win, lose, or tie, everyone's having fun and feeling that they are a part of something exciting. Three suggestions for boosting morale and keeping energy high:
- Make custom t-shirts and include last names of your players – better yet, if you’re up for it, use nicknames! This will give fans a way to be involved and keep them cheering, as you will likely have a group of players and fans that are not well acquainted.
- Can’t afford individual shirts? Try a custom double sided flag with the team’s name and logo. Here at BestFlag, we’d love to make your banner and custom flag dreams come true. Production time is only two days once we finalize your artwork.
- Encourage fan participation. If you’re in an adult league, ask players to bring their significant others to an after-game get together. If you’re involved in a kids league, ask parents to organize get-togethers or play dates. If schedules make get-togethers tough, try a poster-making party before a game and be sure to invite fans and collect money for food.
2. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY
In tandem with #1, social media will help you create a fun energy in your league. Start by taking a picture at your first practice, post it, and tag everyone on the team. This will start an online social connection that will allow players to get excited and to stay connected. Keep this up and you’ll create an online buzz around your team, people will want to be in your pictures, and your players will be excited to see results and pictures online.
According to www.RunLeagues.com: “There is no excuse not to be putting your schedule and scores online these days. For those who say you don't have the money, PlayerMania.com will let you do this, and more, for free. Don't be a league that still posts the standings on a bulletin board outside the gym. I was in a league that did this a couple years ago and I had to wait a week just to see what happened last week, it was horrible.”
Communicate not only with your team but with fans and the league organizers. Ask what has worked for other teams and utilize the league for information and local connections. Lots of rec leagues have one person in charge of hundreds of teams so you will have to seek out this information. They are a great resource that’s often overlooked.
Use a group text format or “Group Me” App as a way to be in touch. Don’t let this communication wane or take any knowledge for granted. This might mean setting a calendar reminder on your phone to remind the league of an upcoming game or practice. Passing out or emailing the schedule is not enough.
4. KEEP IT LIGHT
Remember, it’s a competition but it should be a safe place for people to make mistakes and learn. Bottom line, if it’s not fun, people will leave. Some of the most fun and exciting teams have a 0 - 10 record! Those are the teams that can keep it light, laugh at themselves, and stay positive.
5. GET TO KNOW YOUR PLAYERS
Create a survey using “Google Forms” to figure out why your players are joining the league. Are they competitive? Is this for fun? Is it to lose weight? To prep in the off-season? To meet like-minded people? This form will also serve a purpose for you as you organize your team. It will house phone numbers, addresses, and t-shirt sizes, and will be housed in one document online that can be easily shared and edited.
If you are able to get a read on your player intentions you will be able to feel out everyone’s needs and meet their expectations. You’ll also know who wants to get the stats of the game and who is just there for the get-together afterward. If you don’t get this information up front, you will likely end up disappointing someone, as rec leagues are often a smattering of intentions and experience levels.
So stick with these aforementioned items and you will keep people coming back to your team year after year. It will be easy to avoid the dreaded recruitment process as people will be excited about your team and the overall rec experience.
Please comment below with any additional advice, suggestions, or tricks for rec league successes and best of luck to your team this season!