Inactivity among children in the United States stands at an alarming number—nearly 20 percent according to latest statistics. Fewer kids are playing team sports and opt for other activities, many of which involve no physical exertion whatsoever.
With this bleak statistic in mind, youth sports leagues are challenged with not only attracting players, but also keeping those players involved in their organizations season after season, year after year. Locally, this is important for the health of the league, but on a global level, this is important for the health of our children. The last thing that administrators want is for ineffective youth league registration to hamper these goals.
Though no numbers are available on how much poor registration prevents parents from signing up their kids in leagues, you have likely heard stories from families who wanted to give their children the opportunity to play, but then were hampered by a lack of information or sheer inconvenience. The registration process sometimes isn’t a picnic for league directors as well, who might cap player numbers simply because of the work involved in initially managing so many teams and rosters. Yet, youth league registration shouldn’t be a hindrance to parents or admins. Here are some ways to make the process less painful:
Spread the News
Many parents miss youth league registration deadlines simply because they didn’t know it was occurring until it was too late. Even with paper fliers and updated info on your league website, the news gets lost in the shuffle, particularly for busy parents who, for example, don’t realize baseball season is near until it’s already April. Posting fliers in as many places as possible and distributing them through school and youth organizations help, but reminding parents to re-register is often the most effective way to keep your numbers strong. League management software facilitates this communication by making the sending of emails and text messages easy. You can announce that registration is open this way—and follow up with parents who haven’t yet signed up.
Eliminate Paper Registration
Many parents receive a paper registration notice with instructions to mail the form with a check to sign up their children for the upcoming season. Often, these fliers end up in a pile of other documents and junk mail, forgotten until too late. Or, parents simply don’t want the hassle of filling out the form, putting it in an envelope, and adding postage. Online league youth registration eliminates these manual steps—parents simply enter their children’s information via computer (or even a mobile device) and the process is complete. Besides this being convenient for families, it offers an incredible benefit for league admins and registrars who aren’t sifting through hundreds of paper registrations in an effort to track registrations and form teams.
Personal checks are another hassle both parents and league directors would rather not deal with. For starters, when checks aren’t cashed right away, parents are left wondering if they ever arrived or were misplaced by the league. Admins must track which families paid and then cash these checks at the bank, often requiring multiple trips. Online payments solve all these problems: Parents pay by credit card with little fuss and no uncertainty, and directors see fees deposited directly into the league account and aren’t dealing with any extra bookkeeping.
Give Yourself a Cushion
A short youth league registration period may seem logical so that your administrative duties aren’t spread out over weeks, but this often causes more headaches for you and for your organization’s families. The more advance time parents have to register, the more likely they will follow though and not avoid a rushed decision. A bigger cushion spreads out the registrations—meaning less work in the last week and after the deadline—and gives you the opportunity to send reminder notifications, thus increasing the odds families will register. Quality league management software includes features that enable a longer registration period without any extra work, or stress, on your part.
What part of youth league registration is most painful for you?