Posted by Allan Rayson January 24, 2017 12:37:27 PM
It’s summertime and tournament season is in full swing! Our family schedule has been totally full of craziness with lacrosse tournaments in Lockhart, TX, Long Island, NY and San Francisco, CA. At these tournaments, I have found that this an awesome experience for families to come together, make friends (often with parents we’ve been competing against during the school season), and support our kids all at once. Where else do we get that type of opportunity!
To that end, I thought I might take this chance to provide a few thoughts on how coaches, club directors and youth sports organizations can give parents and athletes a memorable tournament experience without spending a lot of time or money. It’s the small things that count and it’s often easy to delegate these tasks to a willing parent. Here are a few ideas:
Organize A Potluck At The Fields
One of the best things I experienced this tournament season took place at a lacrosse tournament in Lockhart, TX. The lacrosse team that my kids were participating on was a mixture of kids from other schools and districts we competed against all spring. I fully expected to show up and see parents socializing with other families from their same school or district and was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t see that at all. I found that a group of parents from a competing district had organized a huge potluck to feed all the kids and parents no matter where they were from (I’m speaking of the awesome parents from Westlake in Austin). This was such a selfless act that really set the stage for a great experience and I am so thankful the Westlake parents came together to create a great atmosphere for everyone. Further, the kids showed their thanks by bringing home some hardware and taking first at the tournament!
Organize An Outing To A Game Or Event
Organizing an outing to a game or event in the same city the tournament is being held is another great way to bring people together. Tournaments are typically organized in fun cities to explore so there are always ways to put an outing together and extend an invite to the rest of the team. For example, we were recently at the Long Island LAX Fest in Long Island, NY, which is also home to the NY Lizards who play their home games at Hofstra University. One of our parents organized a trip to see the team play and the attendance was excellent. Everyone got to see the home team win in overtime and as it turns out the players were more than willing to stick around and sign autographs afterwards.
Overcommunicate Details About Tournament Logistics
This one is easier said than done because everyone communicates in different ways. Some parents prefer a simple app while some prefer email or even personal communication. I am personally a big fan of a simple (and free) piece of technology called Slack. Slack helps our team communicate about a variety of topics in what are referred to as “channels.” These channels could easily be adapted to a youth sports club so that parents and coaches can easily communicate and stay in touch as they are traveling to and from the fields (ex. channels for 14U Red or LI Lax Fest depending on your needs). Check out slack.com for more information.
Provide A Way For Parents To Get To Know Each Other
I’ve seen several cool ideas that parents have used to help other parents get to know one another. Simple stuff like laminated cards showing all the names and numbers of the players to more extravagant pieces with all sorts of information on them. These days those are super simple to put together and are a great way to break the ice for parents, coaches and youth athletes. Let’s be honest, it really comes down to a parent taking the initiative to put something together, but it’s certainly worth it once it is done!
The Tried & True Team Dinner
This is an easy one, but is such an awesome way for parents and athletes to bond. These days there are some awesome apps to determine good places to eat that are family friendly. Apps like Yelp and LocalEats are great and if you have vegetarians or vegans in the group, HappyCow is a great app to find restaurants that accommodate those lifestyle choices. Try to take the awkwardness out of paying for the bill by calling the restaurant prior to arrival and tell them you’d like to itemize by family.
I hope these were a helpful ideas to really make the experience of a tournament more positive for parents and athletes. Several of them are simple no-brainers, but hopefully serve as a reminder that parents are often spending their vacation dollars to attend tournaments and the better their experience the more likely they are to participate next year (hopefully with your club)! Enjoy the rest of your summer and please reach out to us at PaidUp if there is anything we can do to help you! Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topics: Travel Sports