By Tyler Isaacson
Soccer has evolved over the past 10-20 years. Thousands of town soccer clubs keep reinventing themselves by using new technology, new equipment, new playing formats for different ages and implementing new training systems, to name a few. The end result for many of these clubs is the ability to run a club with fewer volunteers than ever before.
Are you still using the old style goals?
Those goals are so heavy you need a half a dozen people to move them. Pricing for these products has come down considerably over the years.
Today: There are light-weight goals with wheels that can be moved by one person. Pop-up goals that can be assembled in minutes.
Are you still registering your 1,000 recreation players using paper registration?
It takes countless hours of sorting, copying, transferring and reconciling these registrations, not to mention how many of those registration sheets are lost or misplaced.
Today: You can pull up your full registration with a click of the mouse and run a report of how it compares to last year. You have access to important information in seconds with the help of on-line registration companies. These systems are very affordable today.
Are you still playing 11v11 for your 5-year-old age group?
Watching 20 players crammed in a 5x5-yard area attacking the ball like a swarm of bees is not fun. The other two players stand in their respective goals picking the grass hoping the ball would not come near them.
Today: There are small-sided 3v3 or 4v4 games at this age. This gives anyone on the field a much better chance of touching the ball. No goalies, no throw-ins, and much more fun for everyone.
Are you still watching your coaches run a practice like it was 15 years ago?
Dragging a dozen balls to practice and having players stand in line during the drills. Running laps without a ball at their feet like they were part of a cross-country track team.
Today: Players all bring their own ball to practice. If you are using the same curriculum from a few years ago -- it is probably out of date. There are a number of online curriculums available that are affordably priced and provide new drills for both recreation and travel to help guide your volunteer coaches in the right direction. US Soccer recently unveiled its new curriculum and is available online HERE.
These are just a few important changes over the years that have made it easier for volunteers and better for the players. Prior to making some of these decisions, reach out to another local soccer club to see if they are happy with their new goals, online registration vendor, or online curriculum provider. You will undoubtedly get an honest answer because they are volunteers like yourself who understand how much time and effort is required to run a club.
(Tyler Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience and has developed a Recreation Support System that is currently used by clubs/coaches in 30+ states & Canada. For more information, go to: www.youthsoccer101.com.)