Step out and try something new

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that things don’t normally happen in the time frame we want them to.  I’ve spent a lot of time creating programs from scratch, and it’s not an easy task.  Despite the best intentions or desire to see a sport or program get off the ground it can be a huge success or a total failure.  The possibility of failure is not an excuse to not try.  To start anything new it takes time.  One fundamental aspect is figuring out how a new program will meet the needs of your customers, and overcome various obstacles to become successful.  For now let’s assume you’ve already figured out how you’re going to pay for the equipment.  The next steps are figuring out how your new Floorball program will fit into your existing program structure, and facility, and ultimately how you’re going to effectively market your new venture.

If you Google Floorball you’ll likely find numerous videos from European leagues.  In many cases what you’re seeing are top tier leagues and tournaments that are housed in arenas.  What you may not always see are the smaller venues that are also part of the tournament.  Hopefully you won’t immediately dismiss trying the sport because you can’t house 15,000 people.  What it will take is you as the program manager, recreation specialist, sports supervisor, or Floorball instructor to look at the space available and make it work.  Floorball can be played in just about any space and in a variety of configurations.  I’ve played it on a tennis court, in a small utility gym, on a basketball court with curtains down to create a pseudo rink.  I’ve taught classes on large gym floors and those tend to be my least favorite.  Unless you have access to a rink a large space can be challenging.  Depending on the space available teaching Floorball classes in a small space can improve the experience, especially for younger players.  While classes of 20 are nice that may not be feasible given the space available.  You should be forming an idea of how this will all work together.  The next strategy is thinking about how this new program will impact your current programs, or sports.

People are creatures of habit.  We like doing what we know.  If you’ve played soccer every fall since you were 6 it’s likely that as the fall season rolls around you’re thinking about soccer.  Given where you live it’s possible that soccer may be the dominant sport played.  Starting a competing program could hurt your overall numbers in that sport.  While number of players directly correlates to dollars, too many program managers focus on the number of people in a league instead of the overall numbers in the departments programs.

In the end what’s the bottom line, or overall mission of the organization.  Think of it this way.  I offer a youth soccer league.  Historically we have 300 kids player soccer between the ages of 7-15.  For all intents and purposes let’s assume those are successful number for us.  Now I decide to offer a Floorball program for the same age group and time.  After two years I have 150 kids in floorball and 225 in Soccer.  Many would look at that and assume Floorball is negatively impacting the soccer program.  In some ways that could be the case.  At that point we need to dig deeper to figure out what is causing the drop in soccer participation.  Is it the coaches? Training?  Did players only play soccer because that’s what was available at the time?  Another question is why are we now attracting 75 more kids and families than previously?  While soccer numbers are down Floorball numbers are up.  As a whole the number of participants has increased.  Is the goal of the organization to attract more players?  Make more money?  Let’s assume that a youth league runs $50 per person.  With an increase of 75 players that’s an addition $3750 in revenue.  In my book that’s a success.  The key moving forward is to find out what factors are creating the change.  It could simply be that you’ve now given people a choice, and they’re showing you what they want.

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