After a long off-season, the start of a new season can be met with anticipation and excitement. A new season can bring new hope of what could be, coupled with fresh faces, new expectations, and a clean record. 

But before the athletes can take the court, field or ice, plans should be in place to ensure a smooth start to the season. 

Follow these tips on how to start planning your 2020 youth sports season.

Determine Goals & Priorities for the Season

One of the most important aspects of planning a season is to determine the club’s priorities for the year. Organizations need to decide if they want to tweak their mission and values before a new season, and what skills they want to emphasize. Clubs should determine how they want to build athlete character and develop player skills throughout the year.

Plan Tryouts

With the club priorities set, the next focus should be on organizing tryouts. This involves distributing registration information, setting a date and securing facilities. Prior to evaluations, clubs need to determine what skills to evaluate players on, what drills to run, and how many players will be on the roster. Clubs also need to secure evaluators to grade players and find volunteers to assist with tryouts. If the organization is using player evaluation software, it should also ensure athlete information is entered into the app and the appropriate staff members and evaluators are trained on the software before tryouts.

Hire & Recruit Staff

Before you can start a season, you need to have a head coach and volunteers in place. Finding the right head coach can take time to ensure you have the appropriate person in the role. The head coach should embody the organization’s mission and values and be committed to the role and the team. The coach should also have a passion for the sport and for teaching youth athletes. 

In addition to securing a head coach, clubs also need to find assistant coaches and volunteers. Organizations can look to parents to fill these roles, or they can recruit others from the community. 

All members of the coaching staff should be fully vetted by the organization and undergo background checks to ensure the safety of youth players.

Set the Game Schedule

One of the biggest tasks in preparing for the season is setting the schedule. This involves coordination between the league and the organization to ensure each team’s schedule is complete and makes sense logistically.  The club should also add any tournaments it’s entered into the schedule.

Set a Practice Schedule

Setting a practice schedule is a crucial part of planning the season. This involves having the club director and coaching staff sit down and determine a path for the year. What skills should be focused on each week? What drills should be run for each skill? Clubs should also determine the frequency and length of practice. Setting these schedules and expectations prior to the start of the season will allow players and their parents to plan accordingly.

Secure Facilities, Fields & Gyms

Another logistical item clubs need to address before the start of a season is securing facilities for both practices and games. If the club is using community facilities, this can require coordination with the league and the city to ensure each club can reserve the facilities for their games and their practices. If the club is using private facilities, it can make this process easier if there are fewer teams to plan a schedule around.

Thinking about building your own facility? Read about how to get started.

Call a Parents Meeting

Before starting a new season, club administrators should call a meeting with parents. This gives the directors and coaches an opportunity to address expectations for the season. During this meeting, club administrators can review the season schedule – including any tournaments – and practice schedules. This will inform parents of each player’s obligations to the team and will also notify families of any planned travel for away games or tournaments.

During this meeting, clubs should have parents sign any required forms for their child, including emergency contact information and medical information. Organizations can also review parent behavioral expectations and have them sign any parent contracts the club requires.  

Meet with Players

After meeting with parents, clubs should also call a meeting with players. This gives directors and coaches the opportunity to talk directly to athletes to convey their expectations for the season. This can include requirements for equipment, uniforms, and attendance at practice, and can also include behavioral expectations. During this meeting, clubs can have athletes sign player contracts to ensure everyone is on the same page for the season. This meeting also gives athletes the opportunity to ask questions of the coaches and directors before the start of the season.

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