A well-run and organized youth sports registration will give a great first impression to your participants. Whether it is done in-person or online, you want to make sure the participant leaves with all the information they need on the upcoming season. Registration also provides the opportunity for you to get all the information you need on the participant for the upcoming season.
1. Registration Window: It is always good to have a registration window to allow participants flexibility to register. If you have to do on-site registrations, give more than one option such as a few week nights and weekends. Try to avoid just a one-day registration. If you have limited space in your program, make sure that is clearly advertised.
2. Registration Forms: Whether in-person or electronic, make sure your registration forms are clean, easy to read and be sure to collect all the information you need. Make sure to get any required signatures for waivers, code of conduct, etc.
3. Contact Information: Get as many phone numbers and emails as you can for participants for your email, text and call lists as well as the team rosters. Not only for you to use it to promote your programs and communicate, but for your coaches to reach them in season. If your program doesn’t require copies of proof of age, it is always a good idea to at least review a birth certificate or other proof of age to ensure someone isn’t trying to pull one past you and go in a lower age group.
4. Ask Questions for Team Formation: Ask questions to participants as part of the registration process when they sign up such as height, weight, years’ played, allergies, medical conditions, etc. These questions will help your coaches, especially when forming the teams. Don’t ask about the players skill level as parents tend to get this wrong most of the time. You will evaluate their skills at the player evaluation/skills assessment day. If they do not show up to evaluations you know the age, size, and experience of the player to place them properly. Any additional information you can think of that would add value to their registration, add it to your process. Don’t take special requests or keep it very minimal to very extraordinary circumstances.
5. Ask to Coach: Use your registration as an opportunity to ask all parents that register if they or someone in the family want to coach. It is hard enough to find volunteers but sometimes all you have to do is ask. If registering only online, call for coaches on the registration page and ask in reminder emails as well.
6. Information Handouts: If you are doing in-person registration, always make sure they leave with a handout containing all the important upcoming dates and information. If they are registering online make sure this information is posted or they receive it with their receipt. It is much more work for you if you find yourself having to track down participants when they do not show up to any of your pre-season meetings or activities because they didn’t have the information.
7. Send Reminders: Once participants start to register, start sending them reminders on the first in-person dates. You took the first step above by giving them the handout so they have the dates, now you have to remind them to ensure they show up. Remember, you can never communicate too much.
8. Train Staff and Volunteers: Make sure whoever is taking your registrations has all the information they need to pass on to participants and answer their questions. If they don’t know an answer, make sure they have your contact information to give to that person. It is not a good look for your program if a first-time participant registers but then gets no information while the staff cannot answer any of their questions.
9. Have Financial Checks and Balances: Make sure there are always multiple people and different levels of the organization checking on the funds that are coming in. Have cash handling policies in place if taking on-site registration and always reconcile all of your credit card receipts. Not having these things in place is a liability to your organization and leaves you susceptible to fraud.
10. Registration System: Most organizations have a registration system in place but if not you should use some sort of registration system that will allow for on-site registration or online to fit your organization’s needs. There are many systems out there to assist you in taking registration so you do not have to do it all by hand. These systems will make you more efficient and allow you to take and compile registrations much quicker.
11. File System: As you are conducting registration make sure you have a filing system to keep track of all the paperwork. If you are registering electronically, you still need to make sure you have a system in place to easily allow you to look up and pull information on participants. You also want to make it easy for yourself to transpose that information to team rosters so your coaches have it during the season.
12. Check Your Rosters: Periodically during your registration window make sure to check your rosters to ensure everyone has been placed in the proper groups. You also want to monitor your numbers in each age division to ensure you can form enough teams with the desired amount of players per team. The last thing you want to do is find out at skills assessments that you have kids registered in the wrong group or over enroll and cram too many kids on a team which will jeopardize playing time. It is much easier to make adjustments on enrollment numbers and age groups during the process than after it’s too late.
A well-run and organized registration will streamline your operation and ensure you have everything you need from participants to coordinate your program. In turn, your participants will have everything they need from you and will have a great first impression to start the season off on a high note.
For more resources on youth sports, visit the League Source website.