Youth sports clubs strive to not only maintain their current participation levels but to also raise athlete numbers. Losing players to neighboring clubs can be hard because more athletes mean more teams and more revenue for the club.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the youth sports economy has grown 55 percent since 2010, becoming a $15 billion market. In the U.S, more than 60 percent of families spend $1,200 to $6,000 a year – per child – on youth sports, the newspaper reported, citing the book “Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide.” Even more, 20 percent of American families spend $12,000 per child annually.
With those fees, losing players to neighboring clubs can hurt a youth sports organization, even when just one player leaves. Per the Chicago Tribune’s statistics, if a club’s yearly fee was $1,200, that’s $1,200 per child lost from the team’s revenue. If there are 10 kids who leave to join a different organization, that’s $12,000. At that rate, it might even cost the club an entire team, which could double that number (depending on the sport the roster numbers).
Can your youth sports club afford to lose $12,000 a year? Or even $1,200?
Probably not. To prevent this, take a look at some reasons why you might be losing players to neighboring clubs, and how you can prevent it.
1. You’re Not Investing in Athlete Development
Clubs that don’t offer ongoing training, clinics, and seminars for athletes to learn and develop skills won’t be able to compete with organizations that do. Parents and players will remain dedicated to a club that is helping athletes grow as players and individuals. Holding regular training sessions and clinics will show families the organization is invested in developing its players.
2. You’re Not Hiring the Right Coaches
Players’ day-to-day interactions with the club are typically through coaches. If the club isn’t hiring the right coaches, that will encourage athletes to look at other clubs. To prevent this, organizations need to invest time in recruiting and hiring good coaches. These individuals should reflect the club’s mission and values, should be able to dedicate time to developing players as people and as athletes, and they should have a passion for the sport and coaching. [Need help with a hiring decision? Download our Director of Coaching’s Guide to Hiring here.]
3. You Aren’t Providing Feedback
Players want to know how they are progressing throughout the season, and from year-to-year. If clubs don’t provide this feedback through formal player evaluations, athletes might leave for clubs who do. Providing written feedback shows players and their families the club is invested in the athlete’s success. Conducting regular evaluations will help establish loyalty between players and the club. It also helps players understand where they stand within the roster and the organization. If they see improvements, it will encourage them to stick with the club.
4. You Don’t Help Athletes Progress to the Next Level
While some players like to participate in a sport solely for fun, others want to progress as an athlete and play for elite teams, or even try to get a college scholarship. Clubs who don’t help athletes achieve their goal of advancing to the next level risk losing the player to a team who will. Organizations should know athletes’ goals and help them navigate the process of how to join elite, regional, national, or collegiate teams.
5. Your Facilities are Outdated or Unsafe
Athletes want to play on good, safe fields, courts, rinks, and other facilities. They want to train in quality conditions, with the needed equipment and machines to help them improve. If your club is using facilities that are outdated or unsafe, you may lose players to a neighboring club if they opt to seek better conditions. Make sure your organization is keeping athlete needs in mind when securing playing and training facilities. Providing good playing and training conditions shows athletes the club is invested in their success and their safety. Here are some tips on how to secure new equipment for your club on a tight budget.
6. You Don’t Communicate with Parents, Players
If your club isn’t providing needed information to parents and players, athletes can leave for an organization that does. Families don’t want to be in the dark on schedules, practice times, tryouts information, registration deadlines, tournament schedules, or any other information they need to know to set their child up for success. Instead of having parents ask for information, or complain about a lack of communication, clubs should designate a person to send all communications – in a timely manner — to families and players.
7. Your Club is Disorganized
If your organization doesn’t have set roles and hierarchy, it risks having details and responsibilities fall through the cracks. If this happens, it will impact the players when schedules aren’t set, information isn’t communicated, events aren’t organized, fields aren’t ready, and other tasks club officials should take care of are missed. Instead of losing players due to a lack of organization, the club should assign roles and tasks to individuals to ensure all necessary jobs are completed.