There are many youth sports tech program management apps out in the marketplace. So many of them, in fact, that as a sports organizer or club owner, it’s difficult to know where to start. There are apps for registration, scheduling, player evals, communication, and tournament info. We know that you need sports apps to help your club operate, but how many of them actually help you retain your players year after year?
Based on our recent research on club switching, we know that 91% of families left a team due to poor communication or a lack of player development (Source: Club Switching Report). That got us thinking: do clubs and leagues realize that player development and communication is important to parents and families? And if they did, would these organizations realize that there are technology solutions to help reduce player attrition?
After surveying thousands of our subscribers, they answered these questions and more. Some answers were surprising. And we did learn that there is no silver bullet technology that fixes everything. Here are the results.
What are some of the issues facing youth sports today that technology can fix?
High player attrition
When players leave clubs, it is costly to the club. When an entire team leaves, it is even costlier. And, the cost is not just for one season but can be for three years, which is the average length of time that a player stays with a single club.
This includes communication between player and coach but also between parents and coaches.
Player development and evaluations
Players want to play and develop their skills. While many clubs and leagues profess to focus on the player, in reality many struggle to find expert coaches, and most do not provide objective player evaluations that are easily accessible to the player and their parents.
What is important to our stakeholders
Our research identified five main issues that are the most important:
- Easy Communication between coaches, players and parents
- Being SafeSport compliant
- Player evaluations that are both qualitative and quantitative
- Player development that allows coaches to share videos and practice plans
- Simple way to do Scheduling and Registration
Easy Communication Tool
Good communication is the cornerstone to any sports program. 90% of respondents said that it is important to have a good communication platform between coaches and players.
93% of our respondents said that they want technology that gives them the ability to communicate digitally between players, coaches and parents. And they want coaches to interact with players and families regularly – not just at practice.
Although 50% of respondents want a platform that is SafeSport compliant, in reality 70% use communication platforms that are NOT SafeSport compliant. In light of well-publicized incidents in youth sports and a rise in bullying on social media, having a safe place for players to interact helps drive a positive player experience.
The primary communication platforms being used include email, text message and TeamSnap, none of which are SafeSport compliant. While these may be good ways to communicate, they aren’t good choices for youth sports teams. The lack of SafeSport compliance could have serious negative consequences for the team in the long run. iSport360 is the only youth sports communication platform that is SafeSport compliant.
70% of the respondents said that it was important to have a good player evaluation platform tool, and more than 75% wanted evals that are both qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective).
60% of clubs that are doing player evals said they use a spreadsheet distributed by email, and collated by hand.
79% of the respondents wanted clear goals and standards against which players are measured.
80% of respondents want a good player development platform with over 85% wanting coaches to be able to access and share training videos for their respective sports..
A whopping 87% of respondents use YouTube as the source of training videos. Even more surprising is that we provided many options to choose from, like Mojo, The Skillz, Famer, Diamond Kinetics, and TopYa – all of which received less than a 5% response rate.
Scheduling and Registration
90% of respondents need a good scheduling platform that informs them where and when they have practice and games. In this space, TeamSnap and SportsEngine make up 90% of the apps used for scheduling.
Similar to scheduling, 80% need a good registration platform, and again, 90% use TeamSnap or SportsEngine.
When we asked which youth sports apps you can’t live without, TeamSnap came in first with 47% of the respondents. In a surprise for second place, YouTube had 26% of the vote. While the metric for TeamSnap may not be too surprising, YouTube as the clear 2nd place finisher out of more than ten tech platforms to choose from was unexpected. Obviously, YouTube does not do any of the critical functions of registration or scheduling, so this tells us that coaches and sports organizers are using YouTube videos to teach players skills.
While there are some dominant sports tech platforms that handle critical chores of registration and scheduling, the most-used platform for player training and development – YouTube – is hardly optimized for that purpose. And the methods for gathering and distributing player evaluations – spreadsheets and email – are still stuck in the 20th century.
Want to learn more, click here to access the full info-graph report.