Why You Should Strive for High Performance Management in Your Youth Sports Organization
By Melissa Wickes
June 16, 2022
With the constant day-to-day chaos working in youth sports brings, “big picture” thinking often gets pushed to the back burner. Asking yourself which sports you will offer—now and in the future. Which age groups you serve, and if that will grow. How you help your players better and keep parents informed. How you find referees. How you retain coaches. Can you access facilities for every season of the year? How do you work with volunteers—and how do you gain more?
Questions like these, while you’re focused on getting to the end of the week, or even the end of the day, may seem daunting and maybe even unimportant. You need to be thinking about them, though! Thinking big picture will allow your team to operate more efficiently and lead to high-performance management around things like program design, customer success, relationship management, onboarding, and more.
Being able to operate efficiently is one of the most important skills your team can have for the success of your organization. Efficient operations means saving time—so you can focus on things that will take your organization to the next level—and saving time means saving money.
High performance management is critical to customer retention, and ultimately, the success of your organization. Let’s discuss the components of high performance management and how you can improve your performance in each area to better serve your customers and grow your business.
Program Design and Operations
A really great youth sports program can only go so far in 2022 without the seamless operations needed to make sure everything runs smoothly. Program scheduling, registration, payments, and reporting are all necessary parts of running a successful youth sports program—and these days much more than just a clipboard is needed to run it smoothly.
We know that technology is the future of youth sports—and it’s propelling the industry forward in more ways than one. Do you have a youth sports management software that you can rely on to strengthen the quality of the experience you’re offering your customers and make managing operations easier? A really great youth sports software includes easy scheduling, seamless registration, flexible payments, targeted communication, mobile apps, comprehensive reporting, and integrations with other softwares.
When evaluating the youth sports management software you’re using, you’ll want to ask yourself:
- Will the technology grow and scale as my organization does?
- Is managing my day-to-day tasks easier with the use of this technology?
- Does it allow me to think bigger?
- Does it foster a customer-first mentality?
As a youth sports leader, you have a job beyond just managing your programs—and that’s helping your players develop fully, beyond just as athletes. You know how to turn good athletes into really great athletes. But do you know how to support their mental health? How to stop and not tolerate bullying on your teams? How to prevent eating disorders (which are more common in teenage girls than boys)? Investing time in developing each player as a whole is what will give your organization the lasting legacy you’re striving for.
Helping your coaches be better coaches is a crucial part of your job as well. Having an amazing staff is what sets a good organization apart from a really great one. Here are some tips for hiring great coaches:
- Begin your hiring process before you begin soliciting resumes
- Hire people in the present who will help you hire in the future
- Go deep during your interviews
- Set yourself—and your new hires—up for success
Stats about the training of coaches are pretty bleak. One, from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, puts the percentage of youth sports coaches who have received any kind of training or professional development at a paltry 5-10%. Another, from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, suggests only 36% have been taught coaching methods as simple as motivational techniques. You went through hard work to hire these great coaches, you owe it to them to give them the tools they need to succeed and help your players succeed.
Studies have found that the quality of a child’s youth sports experience depends in large part on the environment created by the coach and LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Clearly, investing in your coaches is an investment in your business.
Investing in your coaches also means ensuring they align with your organization’s mission statement—the “why” for everything you do. When interviewing for coaches, this should be something you put at the forefront of your questions (value that over years of experience). Here are some other tips for ensuring your coaches carry out your organization’s mission statement.
Customer Success and Communications
A strong customer success team considers the entire customer experience and puts the customers needs at the center of the business. Customers are what drive profit, so keeping them happy is what keeps your business growing and thriving. To build and maintain strong customer success and communications, follow these tips:
- Instill empathy as a company value
- Collect and distribute customer insights within your organization regularly
- Incentivize customer-centric behavior with compensation
- Make it easy for customers to communicate with you
Building out these aspects of your youth sports organization will lead to overall high performance management and ultimately grow your organization. For more tips on youth sports management, read the rest of our COACH series below: