Understanding Youth Sports: Risk Management

Risk Management is never fun. It can be long, time-consuming, and tedious. But, it is 100% essential. Risk Management is something that can save lives and is a key part of preventing serious injuries. Risk Management also plays a key role in league and team operations. Failure to complete these steps can result in serious financial loss and even shut down entire leagues. While at the time it may not seem all that important when you’re trying to card players, get rosters and schedules set, etc. Having you and your staff complete Risk Management is essential.

There are several key steps and tips to assure your Risk Management and help mitigate risks.

1.     Have the proper insurances and liability waivers in place to protect staff members, volunteers, the facility, and the participants.

2.     Have all other administrative aspects of a program in order, including managing finances, forms, contracts, etc., and ensure that these documents are handled and reviewed by multiple people in the organization for proper accountability and “checks and balances.”

3.     Do routine, documented facility and equipment inspections to identify liabilities and hazards. For example, inspect and survey a play space to make sure it is safe before participants arrive, and make sure it stays safe while participants are in the area. If a potential liability or hazard is found, fix it immediately. If you cannot fix it, secure the area with proper signage so no one can approach it.

4.     Ensure all equipment provided (to teams and participants) is safe. Provide safety equipment when needed and inspect equipment before all games.

5.     Train staff members, coaches, managers, and volunteers properly on all aspects of a league, and provide applicable training and certifications, such as concussion training, first aid, and CPR.

6.     Promote and monitor hydration and healthy eating. Information can be included in parent packets, orientations, and coaches’ meetings. On game days, look for signs of dehydration and fatigue.

7.     Have a contingency plan. What can go wrong will go wrong, so always have a backup plan.

8.     Have an emergency-action plan. Train for risk scenarios so staff members are prepared to handle any situation.

9.     Have adequate adult supervision on game days that includes staff members or league volunteers.

10.   Have written policies in place to strictly prohibit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, excessive weight loss or weight gain, and any illegal substances. Monitor signs of substance abuse by any coach, parent, or participant throughout the season, and have a process in place to report such abuse.

A common practice is to follow the 10 Ps of risk management.  

1.     Policy. Have proper policies in place to protect the safety of staff members, volunteers, participants, and facilities, and know what to do when an incident occurs.

2.     Planning. Training for incidents will better prepare staff members when an incident occurs. Have emergency-action plans in place for any type of league or program.

3.     Product or service. Understand the potential risks that may occur, based on the service offered. Knowing and understanding the types of risks that can occur helps to be more prepared to prevent an incident or handle an incident when it occurs.

4.     Process. Make sure controls are in place to reduce risk and ensure staff members are trained or qualified to handle them.

5.     Premises. Consider the size and layout of facilities and the risks that may occur. Know how much it costs to repair and maintain the facilities.

7.     Protection. This is much broader than merely protecting people from health and safety risks; it includes identifying risks associated with protecting people, premises, equipment, and the surrounding environment. Once the associated risks are identified, it is imperative to have the proper insurance coverages and waivers in place to protect your most valuable assets.

8.     Procedures. Be sure to have proper procedures in place if an incident does occur.

9.     Purchasing. Have policies in place to control costs, create contingency funds, and purchase quality equipment that will not pose a hazard to participants.

10.   Performance. Evaluate a league regularly to ensure you are following the risk-management guidelines that are in place. If incidents do occur, evaluate them and devise a plan to prevent future incidents.

Remember, don’t lack in your Risk Management. It’s not just about your club’s financials, but the health and safety of families.


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Club Announcement- Cardinal Elite Lacrosse

Sports Office 365 is very excited to announce our most recent partnership, Cardinal Elite Lacrosse!

Cardinal Elite Lacrosse Club is based out of Louisville KY. A newer club consisting of middle school and high school students offers kids an opportunity to develop as lacrosse players and as individuals.

We’re excited to work with Cardinal Elite and their staff!

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How to Efficiently Manage Hotel Bookings

Booking and managing all of the hotel rooms for your team or club may seem like a terrifying and pressure-filled process. As long as you keep on top of everything, it’s a fairly easy process!

Timing

One of the most important aspects of this entire process may not be something you would have thought of; it’s all about timing. Timing plays a huge factor throughout this entire process, and once you understand that, the easier your job will be. Booking hotels for tournaments is not something you want to do one month or a few weeks before an event. This needs to be handled and planned out months ahead of time. Booking agencies tend to coordinate with tournaments long in advance to prepare their hotels for the event. Waiting until months after they are released will leave you with little to no options. Preparing months in advance and getting your dates straight is even more important for lacrosse clubs participating in Stay-to-Play events.

Organization

Keeping everything organized and filed correctly will save you a lot of headaches and frustration. An up-to-date spreadsheet outlining events, dates, locations, teams, and everything else will help you easily identify and stay on top of everything. Take an ample amount of time weeks before the season starts to get as much information as possible laid out in front of you. Once you have everything set up and organized, it’s on to the next step.

Finding a Plan

Going into the hotel booking process blind or without a plan will lead to failure. When trying to get a large number of rooms or blocks, you need to know dates, timelines, and how everything works. Take time before the season to learn who will be the hotel booking agency, find out release dates, and know when you need to book. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the booking agencies directly. A lot of times they can provide you with the information you’re looking for, including release dates.

Managing and Tracking

Once you got everything straight, blocks reserved, and deadlines marked; you aren’t in the clear yet. There are two more big steps to ensure you, and your parents have the easiest process.

First, be sure to track those expiration deadlines. When using a booking agency, block reservations are only held for a short time. After about 1-2 weeks, most blocks will be released back to the public. This is not always the case, some tournaments and agencies give you a long window. But, be sure to note when that deadline is. You can always reach out and attempt to get extensions, but this is not always guaranteed. Some agencies have restrictions on their extensions or don’t offer them at all. Tracking those dates as well as how many rooms your parent’s book is important for moving forward in the process.

Secondly, is distributing those booking links and information. Once you reserve a block, you’ll receive a confirmation with all the necessary information for parents to book. Getting this information out to them can vary based on the club. Some prefer to post on their team pages like Teamsnap or LeagueApps. Others would prefer to post it on the website. Whichever option you chose, be sure to fully post all relevant information and have parents book as soon as possible.

Coach Rooms

When it comes to reserving coach’s rooms, most clubs like to give their staff a different option so they aren’t staying with all the teams and players. That’s not something required, you can always have coaches pull rooms from the reserved blocks. If you decide to have them stay elsewhere, the best thing to do is make sure you reserve with free cancellation. Booking months out and getting the cheaper non-flexible rate may seem great at the time, but you never know what could come up in the future. Booking the flex rate is going to be your best option, just be sure to set reminders to cancel ahead of time if needed.

As the season approaches and parents are all booked up, your job should be relatively complete. It will then just turn into a maintenance role. Helping parents with one-off rooms, and troubleshooting issues as they appear. The whole process may seem very daunting, but as long as you keep everything organized and marked, it’s a fairly easy process!

If you still feel that your hotel booking procedures are too much, Sports Office 365 are experts on the hotel booking process and can take that task off your hands!

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How to Improve Your Club’s Social Media

Social Media: Getting Started and Creating Accounts

Before being overwhelmed with the idea of having to manage a variety of social media accounts, your first step is account creation. Just this first step alone can take some weight off of the time-consuming task that is social media. You may feel overwhelmed at the idea of getting into new social platforms, especially if it’s for the first time.

Getting started can be easier than it seems. First, you’ll need to answer the question: What is your goal with each account? The most common goal is to get club information in front of more people or to act as an information portal for your current players and their parents. Maybe its purpose is a step beyond– to attract more followers
in the community to grow your club. Whatever your goal may be, there are different ways to approach your social setup.

In order to enhance your social media and achieve your goals, you need to understand the different types of content and posting.

  1. Videos, Photos, and galleries- Using imagery is a great way to really engage with your club. By showing off your players, coaches, and parents; it shows that you as a club are thankful and proud of who you are.
  2. Information and Content- On the other side of the spectrum is the pages that operate soley to inform. From marketing programs to broadcasting information about delays and cancellations.
  3. All of the Above- While it may require more effort and more commitment, some social pages do a little bit of everything; which is great! The more content and engagement you get on social media, the better!

What Are the Next Steps?

After you have your accounts all set up you are ready to start engaging with your audience. Engagement is the key to any good social media profile. While you are connected with your immediate audience, it’s important to continue looking to grow and engaging in those outside your primary community. Start implementing some of these ideas to build a bigger presence online:

  • Get some short video clips during practices and games to share as a “Story”
  • Stay consistent with your photo posts! 1-3 per week
  • Be responsive with questions, comments, and inbox messages on your social pages
  • Set some ads to promote your upcoming programs!

Remember, having a good social media presence takes time. You need to stay consistent and engaged throughout the process. Don’t be afraid to market your club and social media either. The more people that notice your club and engage, the better!

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How To Perfect Your Registration Setup

Setting up a registration can be a daunting task. There needs to be a lot of information collected, waivers signed, payments, and more. Many times, there are details left out of registrations that just make your job harder in the future. To some, a simple registration that collects payment and the name of a player will be all they need. But, every registration is different. Here are a few tips on how to perfect your registration setup!

1. Take your time.

Building a good registration doesn’t need to be a one-and-done task. Stretch out the building process over a few days, give yourself time to think of new data points and information that you’ll need to collect. This can also ease the stress of rushing and trying to quickly build a half-fledged registration. Setting some time aside and using the Sports Office 365 Registration Checklist is a great way to stay on top of your job!

2. Think of past mistakes and missing information.

It’s very easy to build what seems like a perfect registration that can be used over and over again; until the time comes to order uniforms and you realized you didn’t collect sizes. Look at past forms you’ve built and learn from what you’ve done in the past. Another option is reaching out to others or consulting online help to see what some of the most simple yet important information is that you may be missing.

3. Marketing your registration

Building a good registration is more than just adding in a few forms and then letting it sit. Registration is a constantly active program. Marketing your registration is going to be more in-depth than building the actual form; and arguably, more important. Marketing, whether it be social media, email, or any other preferred method: is an easy way to boost up your exposure. The more people you market to, the more registrants you’ll get. Be sure to set a good amount of time aside and plan to market far in advance.

4. Keep it simple

A well-designed registration is simple. There is no need for elaborate steps or forms that take more than 10 minutes to complete. The more user-friendly, the better!

5. Run Tests!

Perhaps one of the most forgotten about steps in this process is testing the actual process. The last thing you want is to go into your registration platform a week after it opened only to see nothing has been working the whole time. Set time aside to run through it yourself, have friends, and others test it for you. The more testing and tweaking you do, the easier it’ll be on you in the end.

Building a good registration doesn’t need to be hard. Set some time aside market, run tests. The more time and attention you set aside to building a good form, the easier it’ll be on your parents, and your future self!

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