The start of the 2017 football season is right around the corner, and making sure parents and coaches are informed is the first step toward a successful start of the season.
Communicating event, practice, and game schedules to coaches, parents, and fans is one of the biggest challenges for volunteers. There are a lot of moving parts: hundreds of parents to keep informed, different teams to coordinate, and unpredictable weather.
Getting your schedules organized early this summer can get the youth football season off on the right foot. We've got a few tips to help with your Scheduling for 2017 to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Set Practice Expectations now
Parents like to plan months in advance. Posting the practice schedules (even if they are just tentative) helps parents get a good feel for time commitments that will be required.
If you know days of the week that teams will be practicing, or the time in the evening that weekday practices will take place, be sure to post them on your website and make parents aware. This is a huge help for the antsy parents who need to coordinate schedules of several children between their work schedules.
It's ok if your practice schedules won't be completely finalized until later in the summer. Posting at least a rough outline sets expectations for parents and will reduce questions and complaints when the official practice schedule is released.
Youth football parents will celebrate when they know scheduling commitments well in advance.
Post Game Schedules ASAP
Game schedules are precious possessions for most youth sports parents. Once the game schedules are finalized they can plan their fall weekends, invite grandparents and other spectators to specific games, and schedule trips around bye weeks.
If your league decides the game schedules in the Winter or Spring before the season, make sure to post them for parents immediately. Don't wait until the preseason meeting or first practice to let parents know when/where games will take place.
Players, parents, and coaches are excited to see who your teams will be playing and where. Get everyone excited about the upcoming season early by rolling out your game schedules as early as possible.
Don't ever print a schedule
In the past, parents were used to printing schedules and posting them on their refrigerator. But when you've got to make changes to the schedule, or add new events, having different versions of the schedule floating around can create confusion for parents.
Scheduling changes are inevitable during a busy football season. Setting the expectaction that all schedules will be posted on your website, or on the league's website, will reduce stress for board members and parents during the season. By posting online you can also post results, recaps, or notes for each event as they become available.
When your website is the hub for scheduling, you can maintain one version of the schedules and don't have to worry about parents and coaches looking at outdated versions of the schedule. The website for scheduling can also become a central location for text and email communication before during the season, so that parents become trained where to go for important information.
Handing out printed versions of your schedule instead of posting online is the equivalent of fumbling at the 1-yard line.
Use a shared calendar for volunteers
The game schedule important to figure out before the season starts, but there are a number of other schedules that need to be created for your season to run smoothly.
Coaches, staff, and volunteers also to know their schedule well in advance. Whether it be for the concession stand or referee duties, make sure schedule expectations are set early.
Using something like Google Drive allows you to post the schedules in one location and make any adjustments if needed. You can also set the Google Drive to "private," and invite certain people to view and edit it. This means you can still post a link on your website for easy access, but only the people with permission can get in.
Ready for kickoff...
Don't get yourself stressed out in July and August by waiting to get schedules communicated to parents. As registration wraps up, make sure your event, practice, and game schedules are all posted on your website and sent out via email and social media. Using shared calendars for volunteers and board members can also be a great way to get all of your ducks in a row before practice begins.
Need help posting your schedules for this year? Or have any additional scheduling ideas that are working well for you? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below!