Physically Distancing and Floorball

The past few months have changed much of our daily lives. From a recreation standpoint, many in the field have been left at a standstill. Everyone is scrambling to adhere to new runs, policies, and an ever-changing landscape.

As someone who spends a lot of time planning, this time has been a roller coaster. You can do your best to think about the future, plan, and come up with a variety of options. Then everything changes, you throw everything out, and try again.

I’ve spent a lot of time working through the various rules, regulations, recommendation, and policies outlined by our Governor in Washington State. After reading through all of that I still believe that not only can sports exist, but that Floorball can make an impact. You may have to get creative along the way, but the framework is there to be engaging, safe, and fun.

Putting aside any argument for or against masks, Floorball can be a physically distant activity. Much like tennis, badminton, or other physically distanced activities, it can work. It will look different, but then again, we may need to change the goals of what we’re doing. In all the programs that I run my goal is not the competition, but the learning and development of skills. I spend most of my time teaching kids. Many of my kids come into my programs lacking physical literacy in this space.

Stick sports are a different beast for some. Many lack the basic knowledge and understanding in their bodies of how to move using a stick. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, they just haven’t had as much exposure to it. It takes time and practice to develop those skills. For the most part my programs are built around experiential learning and play to teach and reinforce those skills. How does that look in a physically distanced world?

In every program I run we always spend time working individually on a variety of skills. Every kid has a stick and a ball. They’re spaced out and I work with the entire group. Traditionally we transition to a variety of play-based games and drills. For the most part, I believe that all of that can be done while adhering to physically distancing protocols. What I enjoy most is the opportunity to be as creative as possible. There’s a lot of value in that as more and more people are looking for active programming for their children. Whether it’s working at home or in a group, Floorball works.

While we may or may not be able to be as close as before there are always options. I think the biggest hurdle many face is the notion of what was not what is. Don’t get me wrong, all of this sucks. However, I see opportunity happening right now. If there was ever a time to step away from “we’ve always done it this way” approach now is that time.

Writing a book on Floorball

Sometimes the path you take is not the path you think you’ll take.  In fact, often that’s usually the case.  My path has taken me around the world and into uncharted areas I never thought were possible.  I’ve seen failure and success, but through each one I’ve learned something.  The key I’ve found is to continue to push forward one way or another.  At times I have felt lost on my path, but through time I realize I’ve been following the path for me.

I had envisioned a Floorball instructional program for over five years.  I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work or what the finished product would look like.  I was working in youth soccer at the time at a wonderful company and I thought their approach could be modeled for Floorball.  I even put a presentation together for the owner and presented my idea.  I was nervous about presenting it, but had high hopes.  At the time I thought others would see what I saw and jump on board.  The proposal was not well received to say the least.  Not to the fault of anyone, I just believe it wasn’t the right time.

Fast forward to last year.  I had been working and developing a Floorball book for some time.  Having played and coached many sports, and having worked with players of all ages I felt it was time to put something out there.  I was apprehensive about the prospect of publishing a book, but I knew it was the right time.  With the support and guidance of some amazing people I slogged through the process to write and publish a book.  I think the challenge to starting anything new is educating as many people about what you’re doing and why it’s so great.  Writing a book was one way I felt I could make a positive impact in helping grow the sport of Floorball.  I’ve learned a lot over the years and I wanted to help others learn from my experiences.  The focus was on giving people the information to start their own programs.  I’m hopeful that through this effort more people will be exposed to a sport I’ve become so passionate about.

The process was a challenge, but one worth taking on.  I hope it inspires people to step out and take a risk.  I feel I put myself out there and while that’s a scary prospect at least I tried.  I’m excited for the future of this project and the potential impact it can have.  I honestly never thought I would publish a book, but if I never tried I know I’d be missing out on an opportunity.  I hope in some way I inspire you to take a risk on yourself.

Replacing Floorball Equipment

If you play floorball enough, you’ll likely be in a position where you’ll need to upgrade or replace worn equipment.

Given the current accessory options available to players and preferences you’ll be able to customize your gear to your preferred specifications.  Floorball companies produce various colors and styles for grips, and blades; and at some point, you’ll need to do some work of your stick.  Overall the processes are straight forward and won’t take up too much of your time to complete.

One you’ve purchased your new grip all you need is about 5-minutes to replace it and get back in the game.  The first step is to remove your old grip.  Grip can be applied differently depending on the brand or style.  If your grip is wrapped, open the tape down closest to the blade and pull it off.  There will likely be residue left over from the glue, so make sure it’s completely removed prior to installing the new grip.  Regardless of the grip, if you need to you can always use a utility knife to cut the grip off.  To add to the new grip always work from the top down.  As you wrap the stick stretch the grip so it will fit tight to the shaft.  Each player has their own preferences on feel and length of grip needed.  When you have found the right length for you, cut the grip and finish it with some electrical tape.  That’s it you’re done and now you can start playing!

Blades are an equally simple process to complete.  While some sticks are build out of one piece with the shaft and blade fused together, the majority are designed so that blades can be removed and replaced.  Like any piece of equipment, the choice and style of blade depends on player preferences and style of play.  Some players may prefer a soft or hard blade, and will need to change out the blade to meet their needs.  It is best to stick to the same blade and shaft brand. What you’ll need to change a blade includes a small heat gun (hair dryer will do), screw driver (this will vary depending on manufacturer as some use hex, square, or philips screws), the new blade and some glue.  After you’ve removed the screws from the blade you’ll need to heat up the glue in side.  Be careful when using heat as it can melt your blade.  Once the glue has softened you’ll be able to slide the blade off the shaft.  Before you add the new blade make sure to add some melted glue to the shaft, and slide the new blade on.  Make sure the blade is seated and the holes line up for the screws.  Once it’s seated properly and in line add the screws and you’re all set.

One nice function to floorball is that there are a variety of choices for player preferences from the performance of the equipment to the color and feel.  This allows you to customize your stick to the way you want it to be.  While it would be great to have, a custom stick built to all our specific needs you can get close this way.  At least it’s a simple process to do.

Size of Space Doesn’t Matter

It’s interesting to me the excuses thrown around in regard to starting something. For some the excuse could be money, resources, knowledge, or access to space. All of these can be overcome if you’re willing to be resourceful. I think the most challenge of these is finding consistent space to play.

If you’re looking to start a group to play regularly you’re going to need a place to play. However, don’t let the size of available space deter your from playing. Don’t let anyone tell you that to play Floorball, or any sport for that matter, that you must have the exact field dimensions to play. What I love about sports is that they are malleable and adaptable to the situation and space. If you can imagine it, you can do it. Having that mindset has allowed me to open my mind and see opportunities when they present themselves. It’s that mindset that has afforded me the opportunity to run various sports programs in some interesting locations.

One such location was a church where I was invited to work with a group in Federal Way, WA. The location was a small church in the area where kids had been getting together regularly to learn and play Floorball. The size of the space was rather small, but that didn’t matter to anyone. In fact, given the space and number of people in the space it worked just fine. What stuck me from the beginning was the energy in the room. Every square inch of available space was used. The competition between the players was high, and the future of the sport in the area is encouraging.

This is how the sport grows. It grows in small spaces with eager people looking to learn, grow, and find something new. To explore more about themselves. Right now, people are searching. They’re looking for something to latch on to. They’re looking for purpose, and for many we’ve found that purpose through sport. Floorball can play a part of that process.

I encourage anyone who is looking to play Floorball to look at what’s around you and use what you have. Starting small is just fine. I’d rather start a program with 10 dedicated and enthused participants wanting to come back time and time again, than 100 participants who show up once and never again. Go out, be resourceful and make a difference. Things that start small and are given a chance to grow can indeed make a huge difference in the end. I come back to the line in the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come.” So, get to it and start building.

The Way Forward

Our world as we know it has been effectively turned upside down. So many facets of our lives have changed, and we are not certain when, or if, it will return. How will things like sports look? When will they return? There are so many questions with very few answers. Floorball is no different but then again, we are all going to be starting behind where we were.

I had plans. In a not too distant past, I spent would have planned out several things. Given we are in July I’d already be in the middle of summer programs with Fall scheduled and waiting. I’d be actively marketing and competing with every other summer program and event to grab parents, and kids, attention. For the past three years things were starting to take off.

When I started Floorball classes in my local area it started from scratch. No one had heard of the sport and I had no clue how many would even show up. Fast forward three years and we were getting a consistent and growing group of kids into the instructional classes. Depending on the age group we were bursting at the seams! It was exciting to see the growth and engagement of kids and parents. It had taken some time, but I felt like we were meeting the needs of kids in the area looking for something different to do. Then COVID-19 happened.

I had just started my spring programs when everything shut down. Even as we have come out of quarantine things haven’t really returned. I had laid out a plan for summer programs I felt the format and adaptability of Floorball was a great fit for the guidelines we were given. Unfortunately, that all fell apart too. I work full-time so to run programs during the day are pretty much impossible. I even found staff who could run summer programs, but in the end it all fell apart. I was back to square one.

That is where I am currently with things. Back to starting over. The biggest challenges I see for businesses like mine will be finding adequate space. In my area we do not have dedicated recreation facilities, specific to indoor sports. Most programs are run out of the public-school system. The hope is students will be going back to school in the fall. However, I have an inkling that schools will be less inclined to let outside groups use their facilities after school. This presents a clear challenge to things right now. How to run programs without a facility?

Tennis courts are always an option, but not as much when it rains. The likelihood I’ll be able to run my classes and leagues this fall are looking slim to none. It’s likely that I’ll have to just wait things out and be ready to move should things open. In the meantime, I’ll continue to my mission to educate others on the sport, help them learn and grow, and build the sport of Floorball. It will happen. It will just take longer than I had anticipated.

Steps to Building Floorball

From the beginning of my Floorball journey I’ve been focused on developing the sport through stages. For me the current progression of stages includes classes, leagues, and camps. Through this process I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Stage 1 – Classes

I think the foundational structure to the success of Floorball is to teach the sport. I’ve always promoted this as the most effective way to create long-term sustainable programming. Teaching the sport takes a lot of time and effort, and isn’t glamourous, but it is vital. Some of the challenges you may encounter include learning the sports ins and outs and turning it into a teachable format. A lot of this will vary depending on the audience. For young players new to the sport you may find that they lack developmental awareness related to using and moving with a stick. It’s important to spend time working on the very basic skills while providing challenges along the way to encourage growth and development. Sometimes I have been frustrated with students in this aspect because I want them to be further along in their development than they are. I regularly check myself and my expectations for my students and make sure that I’m recognizing where each student is and identify how to support them. 

Stage 2 – Leagues

From the beginning I had the goal of starting a Floorball league. For many getting into Floorball starting a league tends to be their first stage into the sport. When I look at my own goals and program development I preferred to push this stage later in the lifecycle. By developing a platform and customer base interested in Floorball I was ready to move on to stage 2. If you’re wondering about the timeline between the two stages, it was about two years from when I started teaching regular classes to when I launched my first league. The timeline isn’t necessarily important and will vary for each individual and program.

My goal for developing my league format was focused on youth between the ages of 7-14 and adults. I can tell you that for me the adults have been more challenging than the kids, but I’ve been working on that. More to come. I chose kids 7-14 because this tends to be a very active age group in sport development, specifically 7-11. This age group is typically when leagues are formed for many sports. After 11 I’ve noticed a big drop off, which I attribute to competing sports. One thing to think about for your league is that players may be familiar with the sport, or it may be their first time. As such you need to be prepared to help teach and educate players on basic rules and safety guidelines. I tend to use the first week as a preseason where I will teach this information as players play. I have found this to be an effect method to setting the stage for the rest of the league.

Stage 3 – Camps

Having spent the time to develop the previous two stages I felt it was time to develop camps. I focused camps around the same ages I did for classes and leagues. Everything I’ve been developing has a purpose. I’m not thinking short term but long term. While I could have started with camps the likelihood that they would succeed is rather small. One feeds the other. While I tend to pick up kids along the way there is a core group of kids and parents involved in the process. This builds a following to keep growing. The challenge is to ensure enough opportunities for kids to grow and be challenged. While many will tout the importance of their camp and how kids will develop, and that’s true, in reality, camps are basically daycare for many. Knowing that I build my camp to make sure that it’s more than drills and scrimmages. I try to make sure that kids are engaged throughout the whole program, which is not easy.

I’ve spent years developing this process in my area. It’s taken some time to get from point A to B. I encourage everyone looking to develop their own programs to really think the process through. The path I chose isn’t for everyone, but I do encourage you to follow it if you can, while thinking about the long term. Setting up a solid foundation will ensure long term growth and success. If you need assistance doing so I’d love to help you reach those goals.

Approach to Positional Play

One component I really enjoy when working with sports is the opportunity to make an impact. Most of the time I don’t get to choose what that impact is, and at times I’m surprised what it is in the end. Kids seems to latch onto different things for different reasons. Sometimes you have very concrete thinkers and sometimes not as much. A big part will depend on the age of the player. The fun part is creating a space where everyone can learn and grow.

The more opportunities I’ve had to teach the more I’ve learned and improved how I approach teaching. One thing that I’ve tried to focus on and teach is positional play. All classes I teach cover this topic. Some might try to avoid it with younger kids, but I think it’s important to spend time on. I think all players, especially developing players need to have a foundation in how the game works. Once they understand their role in the moment on the field they can then start to branch out which is where creativity can flourish.

Some kids are going to struggle with this concept. Some might grasp it right away and quickly realize how they fit into the flow of the game. Others, our concrete thinkers, will learn and try to understand their position and play it accordingly. They won’t deviate from what they’ve been told, and will likely get frustrated with the flow of the game. Depending on where you are in your teaching you may or may not have covered the topic of flow. Meaning, while a player plays a position, they may change positions in the moment based on the flow of the game.

Through this movement players may start as a defender, but end up as a forward and vice versa. If you haven’t covered that component you may see some frustration in some players as a result. Take note of it, and if needed address it. It’s important to somewhat manage frustration, but sometimes the struggle is purely developmental.  The more they learn and grow players will grasp concepts being taught.

Remember that everyone learns and processes information differently, and as an instructor we must remember to present information in different ways.  Some of these tools include using verbal cues to describe what is needed.  In other cases coaches may use a white board to map out the movement on the field.  Other tools may be a physical demonstration walking players through the process.  Many coaches use all of these tools and more to help teach their players.

Remind yourself and your players that for many this is a new sport, and that you’re all learning together.  Find any success and make sure to praise it.  As your players progress you’ll see an overall better style of play come out in the end.

Engage the Moms, you Engage the Whole Family

I’ve spent the better part of three years developing and distributing content as part of my vision for helping the sport of Floorball. Other than my book, and including my book depending on what you use, all my content is free for everyone. I don’t think that the info should be kept to myself by shared. I know I don’t have all the answers and the process I’ve gone through isn’t for everyone. However, I hope that in some ways people can grab bits of information and use it to take the next step in developing Floorball.

I’m going to drop some knowledge on what I think the most effective and under-utilized strategy to grow Floorball. It’s a simple concept but is a powerful one. Here it is. Are you ready? Are you sure? If you can engage the moms, you engage the whole family.

While I may be speaking in generalities this concept is crucial. For many families, moms run the show. She tends to make a lot of the decisions related to activities within the household. If there is something out there that interest their child, or they believe will benefit their child they’re all in for giving it a shot. They see the value activities bring and encourage their children to get involved. If they enjoy the sport, and more importantly, see their child enjoy the sport they will do everything in their power to keep that going. There is another component to this as well. If moms buy in to the product they quickly become your biggest advocate, and becomes a far better advertisement that any paid ad.

Time and time again I’ve seen this play out in a positive way. I’ve been fortunate to have some great parents engage in my programs, and they keep coming back in one form or another. While the parents have become engaged in the sport their children are as well. One of my goals is to take things a step further. I think that to create more positive engagement I need to engage the moms through the sport. Too often the parents stick to the sidelines for a number of reasons. One of my strategies is to develop a moms (or women) only programming. This allows moms to engage in the sport in a more personal way and develop skills and hopefully a passion for the sport that they can share with their child.

Floorball should look to harness the power of the group fitness world. Women tend to be more engaged in group fitness classes for several reasons. Again, I’m somewhat generalizing on a larger scale, but I’m seeing this played out through my programs and work in the field of recreation. I think a large part of it has to do with opportunities to play. By developing female only programs around Floorball I think it opens the door to more awareness, engagement, and development of the sport. Floorball is in a fight to grab attention of families around the world. There’s a lot of noise out there, and the ones that are winning are built on foundation of education and awareness.

There’s a lot of strategies out there to market, promote, and build a program. I think a lot of them are universal across the board, and there are proven methods. I also believe that when possible it’s best to think outside the box. It’s about creating opportunities. If you can use Floorball to build a sense of community, you reach beyond the basics of the sport into something deeper. I hope you’ve all experienced some form of that, and I think that this can be one really effective way to do that. Remember, if you can engage the moms, you engage the whole family.

What’s your vision for Floorball?

When I found Floorball something clicked. In reality I stumbled upon it by what some would call a chance encounter. I tend to believe that I was exactly where I needed to be. From that I’m working to continue to learn, and use my own skills and knowledge to make this a reality. There are a lot of people out there pushing the sport, and frankly that’s awesome!

The more people talking about the sport, and the benefits it brings the better. I don’t care who you are, if you’re talking about Floorball in a positive light and working to improve the game, and get people active I’m all for it. That’s the fun part about grassroots sports. You’re usually talking about a smaller community of like-minded people all, hopefully, working towards the same end.

That end may look different for each person, but that’s ok. We need all of it right now. In fact, the sport of Floorball needs you! We need you to see the larger vision of what the sport is and what it could be. That can be tough for some because we tend to want to see the fruition of our labor right away. Here’s the fun thing about Floorball, while it will take a decade to happen, it can and will happen. Think about that. How often do you get to be on the ground floor of starting something new? It seems pretty rare nowadays doesn’t it? It’s all possible with Floorball.

Where to begin?

Step 1: Investment

This step is a hurdle. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Starting anything new takes an investment. It will require you to invest time and money into this new venture with the likelihood of not seeing an immediate return. Like all investments you’re better off playing the long game. That’s the mindset you have to have. If you think you’re going to fly in with a new Floorball program and it’s going to take your community by storm you’re in for a rude awakening. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just not likely right out of the gate. Honestly, for you I hope it does take off, but for most I’d plan on a two year cycle.

Make a plan and you’ll be better prepared mentally for what’s ahead. There are creative ways to find money through grants and other sources, but for me I chose to teach. It was a way to explore my passion for the sport and share it with other. Through that process I launched Floorball Guru, which has required more investment along the way. I’ve started youth programs, camps, leagues, run events, demos, and routinely promote the sport in my way. That may not be your path. I encourage everyone to seek their own path.

What’s it going to cost? Costs will vary for a number of reasons. Every state is and location is different and requires different things. However, for most it’s doable. Between licensing, insurance, equipment, and other ancillaries you’re looking at an initial investment of around $1500 usd. That can fluctuate for each person, but I’d say that’s a decent starting point. If you’re looking to add Floorball to your current programming it would be less. The beauty of the sport is a stick and ball is all you need to get started.

Step 2: Development

Once you’ve figured out your path, or how you’re going to build your venture you’ll want to make sure you develop a timeline. I call it a method to the madness. Do you know what you want to get out of this venture? Do you know how you’re going to attain it?

For me, when I launched my Floorball classes I had a goal in two years to start running camps and leagues. I saw the challenge of starting something new on my own and the time it would take to promote and educate people in my area about Floorball. I’ll tell you that after two years I accomplished both goals. I will also tell you that in that time they were not what most people call a success. The only question you have to answer is what does success mean to you and focus on that.

However, I saw them as huge successes. I had achieved the goals I set out and was able to make positive impacts on the lives of kids in my area. That’s a win in my book. The more you do something the clearer the vision becomes, and that’s an important part of the process. You have to have a vision of where you are going. Over time you will continue to hone and develop that vision into clarity. It requires a consistent effort.

Step 3: End Game

I’m a big picture person. I’m able to see what’s happening now, but plan and see what I want for the future. I’m not touting myself, I’m just stating fact based on results. It’s not always an easy process and it’s rife with success and failure. I’ve seen both, and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way. However, I hold fast to the end game for me. I see the future of Floorball in my area, State, and Country and I’m excited for what’s happening and what’s to come. I would say my biggest focus is helping others get to where they’re going. If you’re in need of help please reach out as I’d love to help.

Does changing a sport change its core?

Floorball has been getting more exposure in recent years. A lot of it is due to an increase in awareness that the sport exists. It’s seeing more consistent exposure through highlighting the marquee events the sport has. The World Floorball Championships are a big focus for the sport, but the biggest event so far has been the World Games. Floorball was included in the 2017 games in Poland, and will be in the 2022 Games in the United States. All of this is focused on paving the way for Floorball to be included in the Olympics.

Floorball has a lot going for it making it a great sporting event, but there are some challenges ahead as the sport continues to develop.

One of the largest challenges to the sport is the size of the field. A standard Floorball field is 40×20 meters (132-66ft approx.). The size of that space make it increasingly challenging for developing countries to regularly play on a regulation field. On top of that finding a facility to house that space is equally challenging, especially in the North America.

A field that size would take up the entire gym space at most recreational facilities, and would be far too big for most school gyms. Some might argue that a solution is making the field smaller while playing with less players. While I’m an advocate of this, because you use what you have. However, at the highest levels of the sport, does this ruin the product? Could it possibly help?

A great component to the sport is that it is malleable through a learning curve, available space, and development of the players. However, if developing countries are to have a chance competing at the top levels they have to be comfortable playing on the traditional field. It’s one thing to play basketball on a high school court, but different when you transition to college or pros. Things are just different from space on the court to distance to the basket. The same rings true with Floorball. While in the U.S. program, leagues, and clubs can develop, if they don’t regularly play on a traditional field they will always be at a slight disadvantage.

Part of the question Floorball faces as it develops is, does it need to change, and if so how does it change? The IFF is looking to make some changes to the sport as it progresses, obviously looking to fit the needs of events like the World Games and Olympics. There is talk about shortening the match time from 20 to 15min periods. One potential change I could see would be to shorten the field and have less players. (note: I don’t know of any proposal or conversation from the IFF about this, just my opinion).

However, as mentioned before does changing this sport change its core? There’s NBA basketball, and International Basketball. NHL and International Hockey. These sports are playing a similar game, but there are differences to the game, including size of the playing surface, and thus style of play.

I’ve tried to think about this from both sides. On one hand you have organizations, clubs, and leagues who have been developing Floorball into its current form for decades. While change can be tough and usually not greeted well it can help. I’m not sure what changes would be needed if any. I like the current format as it is. I think the sport has all the ingredients to shine as a power sport.

However, on the flip side, as someone who is working to develop the sport at the beginning stages and build players to compete internationally it’s tough to train and have the necessary equipment and space to do so. There is ample access to high school or college space, but that tends to be smaller than what is needed. That’s not the sports problem, but creates initial hurdles in player development. Who knows where things will go, but I hope changes that are made benefit the sport for everyone in the long-run.

Floorball boards are crucial to growth

Floorball has some great components to it that make it a fun and exciting sport to play and watch.  Like hockey and indoor soccer, Floorball is played using a rink.  The rink is built using a portable board system.  The boards themselves are comprised of plastic and fiber glass. They are light weight and compact.

A full rink at 40×20 meters will have approximately 52 individual pieces and four corners.  The size of each board will vary slightly but will fall around 2 meters long, while the height of boards reaches around 50cm.  To connect the rink together each board uses variations of tongue and groove construction and is latched using bungee cords.  By connecting the rink in the fashion, it allows the boards to move or break apart.  Unlike hockey a Floorball rink is not anchored to the ground.  Due to how light and portable the boards are a Floorball rink can be set up just about anywhere on any surface.  This is an important piece to the development of Floorball because it opens doors to where it can be played.

There is one key component to the growth of Floorball in North America that I feel must be addressed for it to really take off.  The cost to purchase a rink is expensive.  Right now, in the US you can purchase a rink for about $6,000, before taxes and shipping.  Shipping cost will vary but plan on 400-800 in shipping depending on how far away you are from the source.  You will also find options overseas, and while they may be a bit cheaper you’ll have to do some research into the process.  I’ve seen quotes for one rink for just shipping land anywhere from $1,100-2,500.  Depending on where you can source a rink from your total cost could be pushing $8,000-10,000.  I don’t know lot of businesses or organizations that can afford to spend that kind of money on a new sport.

With Floorball still growing the ability to convince a boss, or board of directors group to spend that kind of money is a challenge, and one that is an uphill battle.  We need to figure out how to bring the cost of a rink down to a more manageable cost.

People want to play a sport the way it is designed to be played.  One of the struggles I run into is distinguishing Floorball from floor hockey.  You’ll hear comments referring Floorball to P.E. hockey, when someone sees Floorball being played in a gym.  A rink is the clearest way to show that difference.  Having a rink also adds some excitement, especially for kids.  Kids are already excited about Floorball.  I’ve yet to find a group that has completely pushed it aside, even at the high school levels.  We need that excitement.

We need to capture it, grow it, and sustain it.  If we can’t show people how to play the sport as intended we’re missing a huge opportunity.  If we’re going to get Floorball into schools and businesses we need to figure out an effective solution to this problem. Doing so will greatly help the long-term growth of Floorball in North America.

Importance of Staff Development

If you’re lucky enough to have staff, you know the value and time it takes to properly train them. This process is an ongoing one that is rife with successes and failures. How you train your staff varies from person to person, but it’s important that staff are given the proper training, feedback, and opportunities to succeed and fail. The last two are probably one of the more challenging ones to embrace, but is required to create success through buy-in. Staff buy-in creates an overall better product, which improves long-term engagement.

My methods vary depending on the situation, goals, and job at hand. I’ve spent a lot of time working with college aged employees, and I think that there are some specific challenges to working with this group. In many cases the staff that work for me are part-time, and the amount of time they work for me varies from days (in some cases) to years. Working in collegiate recreation I feel a big part of my job is to train staff and then give them opportunities to grow. This comes with many challenges along the way, and in many ways forces me to have to trust earlier than I would otherwise. My goal is to get them to the point where they function without me at the level I expect. What I’ve learned is that through this process I must step back, support them, and let them do their jobs. It’s the same thing I want from my employer so why wouldn’t I do that for my staff? This is easier said than done, especially when your name is what’s on the line in the process.

When I work with staff on a new project or venture it’s likely they’re not going to be as excited about it, or as knowledgeable as me. My goal in the process is to get them up to my level as quickly as possible, or at least to a functioning level. There is a lot of trial and error along the way, but if staff are supported properly they will develop accordingly. I’ve found this to be true especially when working with officials. Training officials or a court monitor takes time. It requires a theoretical background on the topic, but more importantly an understanding of the practical. The practical is something that takes time and experience, but staff must be put into those situations to learn. To do this my staff and I go through training looking at videos and other resources to learn the basics, and then we take it to the court.

The training doesn’t stop there because staff are evaluated on their performance.  The focus on the evaluation is not to nitpick on every mistake, but to highlight some good, and some areas to work on. Some staff will have more things to work on than others and the intent isn’t to call out every single one. The goal is to highlight one or two areas to work on for the next time. I’ll usually recall one scenario to learn from and hope that through the conversation they’ll be more aware of it the next time and make improvements. Hopefully over the course of a few weeks they have progressed positively from where they began. They still may have a way to go, but they’re hopefully on the right path. Either way it’s a process and one that takes time, support, and patience.

Are Floorball Demos Effective?

Working to develop a new sport takes a lot of time. It’s not something that happens overnight, and it takes a lot of work. While it’s important to talk about the sport and educate people about it getting people to participate is another thing. One method to this is through demos. The true question is how effective are they?

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around providing demonstration opportunities on Floorball. Each demo provides a unique opportunity to engage people on the sport and give them a chance to try it out for themselves. In practice I’ve found that this method isn’t necessarily the most effective means of growing and developing the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I think that demos have their place in the process, but to think that if I run a demo it’s going to be the catalyst to the sport exploding is wrong. In fact, unless you have a framework set up to support engagement after the demo it’s not as likely something will come of it.

While I enjoy doing this, I’ve found in the long-term they haven’t really produced. I look at it as one piece to the education process, but not the most effective.

It’s a sales technique, and with that comes the higher percentage of people who will do nothing with the product. That shouldn’t discourage someone from running a demo, speaking at a conference, or presenting on the topic, but I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket. I think that most people who have gone this route would tend to agree with me. I say that because I follow my competitors and see where they go and what they do, and by and large most who have gone this route are doing less of it over time. Is that a good thing? I don’t really know.

I think it’s important that the message or brand of Floorball be out there, but I think people are being more thoughtful about their approach. Setting up a booth at a conference, speaking at an event, or even planning an event doesn’t necessarily correlate to growth in Floorball.

It all comes back to the foundation. If you’re not actively building the sport on multiple levels to engage more people it will never gain hold. You can’t sit by and hope that something will happen you have to do something. I’m not against this stuff in any way and depending on the opportunity I will jump at the chance to promote the sport. That will never stop, but I am very careful about what I do. I know in the end that me flying across the country to speak about Floorball doesn’t necessarily translate into Floorball growth. So I have to be strategic about it.

I have my own Floorball programs running in my local area. I will spend more time building that up by going to events to promote it because there’s a foundation of classes, clinics, leagues, and tournaments to engage that population accordingly. The next time you do a demo really think about what you have coming up behind it to push the sport forward.

Importance of Floorball Goalie Positioning

Player development is crucial. While many focus on offense and defense too often they forget about the goalie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for teams to have a solid understanding of offense and defense, but to negate development of the goalie is done at your peril. Goalkeeping is a specialized position and most don’t have the same knowledge to teach it properly. One other challenge is that on a team of 15 you have one maybe two goalies. Too often the training for the goalie is relegated to just putting them in the net for practice, but not actually training them on their position.

Body Positioning

A goalie has the difficult task of taking in a lot of information in a short amount of time. They must always know where they are in relation to the goal based on the location of the ball. This skill is one of the more difficult one to master and is crucial if the goalie is to be effective. The intent is to place yourself in between the ball and the goal to maximize coverage of the goal while minimizing available space for the ball. In truth it’s about cutting down the angle the ball will travel from the shooter to the goal. By cutting down the angle you improve your chances of saving the ball. A Floorball is rather small and can squeeze through some small spaces. As such, it’s important to minimize that space by using your body positioning. So how do you teach this concept?

What you need to do is try and get your goalies to understand their position conceptually. If use the two posts as a guide they should imagine an arc going out from one end to the other. Use the reference points around the goal to help players understand their positioning in relation to the goal. As the ball moves in relation to the goal so should the goalie.

The key in this process is to be situated to that the shooter sees as little open space of the goal as possible. Players tend to shoot for what is open, and by minimizing that space you increase your chances of a save. The more proficient a play is in their body positioning the more proficient they will be as a goalie. One key to remember is that players may be too focused on the ball and may become out of position.

An offensive player’s goal is to encourage this. One good coaching point is to stand behind the goal and watch how the goalie moves in relation to the play. When they are out of position stop and address it. The goal is rather small so big movements may not always be needed to be in the proper position. The more players understand this the better off they will be.

This skill is a foundational component to every goalie. Their understanding of how to move in the crease and know where they are in the crease matters. The more goalies can understand this the better they will be in the net. As a coach it is important to not shy away from training your goalies. Do what you can to understand the position and support them as bet as you can.

Private vs. Public Sport Development

There’s no doubt about it, but the landscape of youth sports has clearly changed. There are pros and cons to that development, and depending on the situation I’m a bit torn by it. On one hand I’m in favor of business and the role private business plays in the economy. On the other side, I think we’ve gone too far with privatization and as a result it’s creating a system of those who can afford to play and those who can’t. There are a number of reasons why this has happened, and I think that we’re on the cusp of going one way or the other.

Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s the landscape of youth sports was still developing. You had travel teams, but it wasn’t anywhere near as prevalent as it is now. If you wanted to play you likely went to the plethora of youth sports leagues that were offered by the local parks and rec, or other government entity. The programs were affordable and thrived. It seems that somewhere along the lines that changed, partly because of lack of funding to parks and rec over time, but also with the growth of “elite” clubs and travel programs all promising to take players to the next level.

Fast forward 15 -20 years and the market of elite programs and clubs that was once small have largely cannibalized the youth sports market. I don’t fault businesses for doing things to grow their product, but in doing so a growing number of kids are either not playing sports as they get older, or aren’t even starting. In many ways they’re being priced out.

I’ve always been interested in this process, and I’ve been in and out of it throughout the majority of my life and professional career. It’s been an interesting phenomenon to watch, and while I disagree with the direction it has gone, I think in the long-term it will not last in its current format forever. I think people are getting a bit more wise to what’s happening, and I think there will be a bit of shift back to more emphasis on recreational based leagues and programming.

Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to put a league together, and if you’re going through the process it should be worth that time and effort. I’m seeing more and more programs pop up that are offering something different, and I believe in the end it will be beneficial.

I’ve been going through this myself as I’ve developed my instructional classes, leagues, and camps. I’m really aware of what I’m ultimately trying to do. I’ve created partnerships with my local parks and rec to offer low cost programs. It’s two fold. On one hand I want to get people engaged in the sport of Floorball, and on the other I’m hoping long-term it grows into something bigger. Right now as it sits my costs are pretty low, and I can keep it that way. It works for me and it works for the parents.

The cost of the program is below other similar sports programs or it’s priced right in line with others. I know my market and that plays a lot into how I price my programs. It’s a fine line to walk, and in the early stages of program development I think it’s important to strike that balance. I could make more money not going through the parks program, but there are a number of important parts to doing so. The main one is providing value to the parks by offering a new program, and providing parents with more options to keep their kids active.

If Floorball is to grow we need a mix of both private and public organizations getting involved. However, in doing so they can’t price it the same way they’re able to price more established programs. We need to make it affordable to get people in the door and develop the product accordingly. The price should cover costs, but shouldn’t too high. There’s always ways to get creative in this process, and if you’re a private organization think about how you can effectively bring this sport into your world in a way that helps it become sustainable and grow. If you need help with that reach out to us.

A Changing World in Sports

The World has changed. In the midst of a global pandemic we’re all feeling the effects of this. What come of it in the end is what I’m really curious about. Where do go from here?

COVID-19 has already had a major impact on our lives, and it will continue to shape many lives going forward. We don’t know yet when the spread will stop, but we do know that it’s hopefully changing how we react to it. To see a complete stop of our daily lives, for many, gives us pause on our lives. By taking certain things away do we value them more, or realize that we can live without them? Do we learn to improve how we live our lives, or are we simply waiting to return to how we lived before this happened?

Outside of health, the impacts this is having and will continue to have will be felt for a long time. Businesses, organizations, and people will all falter. The landscape of sports, specifically youth sports will be changed. It will take time to climb out. I’m already seeing and hearing of youth sports programs, businesses, and organizations starting to shut down. They have no choice. Will they be able to return when things settle? For many that many not be the case. Even when things settle it will take time to coordinate and get things going. What impacts will that have?

I think there’s going to be a shift in how we do things within sports. We’ve seen it a little bit in the shift back to more recreational sports. Some of that has been in response to cost to play. I see a growing number of people wanting access to sports, but without the added costs and travel. I see this as an opportunity for people to reconnect with why they play sports. It’s the camaraderie, love of the game, challenge, and the competition. I’m hoping that as we slightly retract in the path we’ve been on that more opportunities open for all to engage in sports.

Here’s where I see Floorball having a chance. You’ve got a sport that you can play and train anywhere. It draws in skills sets from a variety of other sports. It’s affordable to play. It’s adaptable to any age or ability. I think that people are looking for things like that. The landscape of sports is changing, and we don’t know to what degree. I believe that more options helps everyone in the end.

For all reading this I hope you’re safe and healthy.

Learning sports in the digital age

Everyone is going through a massive change. As we all want to be together, we’re all apart. This has forced us to get creative in how we communicate on every level. As a result, we’ve been pushed to go virtual. The traditional models have all be thrown out the window as we operate in a virtual world.

This has a massive impact on every person, business, organization, and sports are thrown right into the middle. How do sports continue in this new world? Going from normal training methods and games have been thrown out the window. In an instance everything that we’ve done before changed overnight.

For many the jump to virtual is a challenge. Aside from the social component to sports the ability to effectively train at home with whatever resources you have can be a challenge. One of the great things I see coming out of this is how it’s forced everyone to rethink how we are doing things. From a training perspective this time gives kids a chance to be creative. While that may stem from boredom, some of the best creations come from boredom. It doesn’t take much to see the creativity that’s happening right now. If there’s something to take away from all the quarantine/pandemic situation is that we all can get creative.

Having been quarantined at home has given me a lot of opportunities to think about how I can get creative in my own right. Coming into the spring Floorball classes that I put on were growing. At the time things were shut down in Washington State I was just starting the spring session. With 30 kids signed up we were thankfully able to get one class in before things shut down. For me, I wanted to be able to provide resources for my students to continue to practice at home. As a result, I started creating training videos to help teach my students, and anyone some of the skills and drills I use in class.

The ability to take my lessons online has been a great creative outlet. It’s also allowed me to work on my video editing skills, which is a great skill to learn. I’ve been wanting to do things like this for awhile, but I always put it off or gave an excuse. Now was the perfect time to get it done. What’s been fun for me is to see what students are doing at home and how they’re staying active during this time. I’m not alone in this process. I’ve really enjoyed watching what other people are creating, and I’m learning from them.

Here’s a little tip, if you don’t know it already. If you’re not on Twitter I recommend it. If you want to follow any specific group of people, I recommend following physical education teachers. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this time it’s how creative these people are in working to actively engage their students from afar. If anything, they’ve given me ideas on how I can better teach or present Floorball topics online. I highly recommend tapping into these resources.

This is a time we’ll all remember. I hope that wherever you are you and your family are healthy and safe.  I hope you’re getting creative however you can be to stay active and have some fun. I think I can speak for everyone that I can’t wait to get out of this and back to a new normal.

The Value of Volunteers

It’s great to have ambitions.  To reach for the stars.  To have goals and dreams that aren’t quite yet realized.  Without action they’re an illusion of something that we want.  Action requires hard work, dedication, vision, and a singular movement in that direction in any way possible.  You may be feeling ambitious starting out with a new project.

Hopefully, if you’re reading this you’re interested in Floorball, and trying to figure out how you’re going to get started.  While many people have the drive to take a new venture from start to finish it’s not the norm.  In fact it’s highly unlikely that it will get done without some sort of help.  For anyone looking to start a new program or venture some of the most valuable people around you are your volunteers.

Take for a second to think about what a volunteer is to you and your organization.   The volunteer is in many cases the strongest advocate for you.  They love your product, organization, or mission so much that they give their time and resources freely to help in some capacity.  People volunteer for any number of reasons, but without them many wonderful programs and events wouldn’t happen.  This is especially true for programs and events that are just starting out.  The support, guidance, muscle, and help volunteers bring can never be taken for granted.

I’ve been fortunate to have experience on both sides.  Being able to give time and energy to a worthy cause is worth the time and effort.  Frankly, it’s a wonderful opportunity to give back.  At the same, running an event that requires a lot of volunteers is an equally amazing experience to see the joy and dedication volunteers bring to the process.  It’s very humbling knowing that a successful event or program I ran worked not solely because of my work, but by a collective of people who saw value in what was being done and acted.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen this play out in the Floorball community.  There are countless numbers of people who have volunteered, and are volunteering to help grow the sport of Floorball.  They give their time, resources, energy, knowledge, and guidance to push this sport to the next level.  Without the dedication of so many individuals the sport wouldn’t continue to grow.

The challenge for developing programs is finding those core volunteers that will help you grow.  However, you have to be very careful about not overburdening your volunteers with too much.  Make sure to show appreciation for your volunteers.  At the very least to take them for granted.  The ability to grow volunteers into brand ambassadors is a crucial aspect of event programming.

Once you have that the challenge is continuing to find new volunteers to keep things moving forward.  Keep pushing, keep believing, and keep grinding.  You never know who will find you or your program and want to get involved.  Sometimes it only takes that one person to make the difference.

Lasting Impacts of Teaching

A few years back I was working for a youth soccer company. I was in charge of the Pacific Northwest Region of the company, which covered Washington and Oregon. When I eventually left I had grown the business to contract with over 60 cities and over 10,000 participants. It was a lot of work, but I’m really proud of the job I did. I really enjoyed working for that company, and the lessons and skills learned have helped serve me well in my endeavors since. One of the things I learned was the lasting impact teaching had on me personally, and the kids I taught.

Teaching is rarely a glamourous job, but I’m specifically talking about teaching youth sports. It may sound fun, and don’t get me wrong it is, but in reality there’s more to it. Whether you know it or not, if you’ve chosen to step out and teach you’re making an impact. Those impacts can be positive or negative, and it’s important to know your role in the process.

When I first found Floorball I immediately saw its potential as a sport, and in teaching youth to play. There is a market to be had that I see using Floorball to break into. The youth sports instructional scene is very crowded area, but there’s always room for more. As I began to think about how I would approach this process I kept coming back to my soccer days. In my mind it was a perfect fit, but at the time I fought it because I needed a break from teaching. Teaching is a demanding component on your time and energy, and I wanted to make sure that I could bring both effectively. I reached out to my old client in my town and we put a youth floorball program together.

It’s been 3 years since I started teaching floorball classes regularly. It was a challenge at first to find a date/time that would work within my current job and life schedule. I chose a day that was fairly light for me, and something I could make sure I could be consistent on. I’m a big proponent of consistency. I wanted parents to know that it would be at the same day, time, and location every session so they could start to plan on it. It’s been successful, and I’m really proud of it. I make some money off of it, and while it’s not huge, it has allowed me to continue to grow the game the way I wanted to. It hasn’t always been easy or fun. There have been challenges along the way, but in the end I know it’s worth it.

That reminder of it being worth it has come in different forms. From parents talking to me about how joining Floorball has helped their kid overcome fear, anxiety, or just found a passion in something. Those are the things that mean the most, and are the reason why I do what I do.

There are kids out there not being reached in the current sports scene for any number of reasons. By creating opportunities to reach them I’m hoping they’ll find themselves. Every week is a new week, and the kids I teach are a week older. I never know what child I’m getting on that day, but in the end having a chance to make an impact is enough for me to keep pushing forward. What’s fun is that the longer you teach the more kids you get to see, and seeing kids grow and mature is fun. I’m excited to see where these kids go, and hopefully I’ll get to see them mature into adults and positive role models. I encourage anyone reading this to take a chance on themselves and the kids around them and get involved in teaching. If it happens to be Floorball great. If not, that’s ok too. Good luck on your journey, and if I can help along the way I’m happy to do so.

Do Schools Really Need Floorball?

I’ve been around the block enough times now to hear a lot of the same comments and arguments. One of the first comments that comes up is Floorball would be great for hockey players. The other comment that comes stating, “This would be perfect in schools”. The true question in anything is asking the question. Do schools really need Floorball in their physical education curriculum?

Let’s step back and try to analyze that question as unbiased as possible. Believe me, I’m pretty biased on this question, but I think it’s worth asking the question. Hopefully you’ll be able to make your own decision. A big part in answering that question is to look at the current role physical education plays in our society, specifically in U.S. schools. Unfortunately in the U.S. emphasis, funding, and time spent on physical education is rather low, especially when compared to cost spent on other subjects. However, there are a plethora of studies and research done on the importance of physical health and it’s relation to long-term benefits inside and outside of the classroom. Needless to say it’s just not a priority, and without getting into the political components of the argument in the short-term that simply won’t change overnight.

If you haven’t spent time in a physical education class in the past 10 years you’d likely notice some differences from your youth. One of the differences I notice aside from a lack of funding, is the size of kids in physical education classes. In the classroom we’re asking one teacher to manage 25-30 plus kids, but in a P.E. class that can jump to 50-60 per teacher. On top of that physical education classes are fractured in their consistency. Kids don’t have P.E. every day, and instead may go one week for three days, and then have two or three weeks off before they come back to P.E. Each school teacher, school, district, and state are different, but it’s certainly a huge challenge. Simply managing that time and schedule is a huge undertaking; especially if you add on top of that the requirements for meeting and showing students are meeting state and national standards.

With all of this in hand teachers simply don’t have the time or resources needed to dedicate enough time on everything they want to do. There are some really great resources out there, and there is a huge push on teachers getting creative. The results from this are astounding, and they should be applauded. The impacts P.E. teachers are making across the country to ensure students are getting exposed to new things, moving, having fun, and learning are a crucial component to their overall development.

So where would Floorball fit into this mix? That’s a question that each teacher has to answer for themselves. The physical benefits of the sport are a no brainer. If you break down the sport it is pretty clear how it can meet state standards in regards to physical development. I think it has a place in some form in schools. If a teacher doesn’t have floorball sticks, but has hockey sticks can they teach floorball? Of course! The keys are making the necessary adaptations to teach the sport. Focus on the rules of the game, use goals that you have. If you’re lucky enough to get a grant buy equipment and make it available for students during recess. There are options, but to think that the whole growth of the sport hinges on schools is not true. It should be a component, and that is where outside organizations play the bigger role. A kid who gets excited about Floorball in school, but has nowhere to play outside of school misses an opportunity to play.

So before you jump to expecting the schools to grow the game I would turn it around and say, what are you doing to support that?

Adding Floorball to your Repertoire

If you’re like me, you probably enjoy playing multiple sports to suit your interests and needs. Growing up I played just about anything I could get my hands one. This became important in my personal development and if the topic itself has become more common place in media. Whether you’re an individual or an organization you should at the very least consider adding Floorball to your repertoire.

As an individual there are many benefits to playing or learning to play Floorball. The physical benefits of running are clear, which I enjoy because I need a reason to run. It’s one reason I enjoy sports so much. Cardio is an important component to our lives and Floorball focuses on both endurance and quick burst movements, which is important to develop in most sports. If you’ve chosen a preferred sport and are looking for something else to keep your physical skills in tune during the off-season Floorball is certainly one to look at.

By playing multiple sports players can not only take a break and recharge, but in the process; they’re working new muscles both physically and mentally. While many players focus on developing physically they may not realize how they’re developing mentally. Some call this development athletic IQ. An athlete with a higher IQ in this area can use that to their advantage in any number of scenarios. There lies the true benefit. The more situations a player is exposed to the better they will be able to read the field and hopefully make the proper decisions in the moment. This is a long-term skill, but the exposure of multiple sports and factors can help in this development.

While there are benefits to adding Floorball to an individuals’ repertoire, the same can be said of an organization. In today’s market many organizations are working to stay ahead of the curve. If they’re a pay to play organization the heat is always on to attract new customers while attaining current ones. This requires businesses of this nature the challenge of keeping up with current trends in the market, while trying to read what will increase business. There are many variables to account for, but if there is a building involved one of the key focuses is to maximize it’s use. For many areas everyone has the same old standards for sports. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I would argue that there is a market that is being missed. Will Floorball be the answer to all? No. However, I believe if given a proper chance with the correct training and education it will begin to take hold on a massive scale.

I’ve seen the beginnings of this first hand through my own programs. I’m not one to just talk, I’m actively working on these things myself. I’ve started classes, leagues, camps, and clinics along the way. I’ve seen a very clear market for this sport. For those looking for something a little different and a way to offer more options for customers within the space you already have, Floorball is certainly worth a look. I hope you will give it a chance, and if there is a way I can help you I would love to have the opportunity to do so.

How’s your Marketing Plan?

You’ve come up with the program, event, or league and you’re ready to get things moving. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your work is done. In fact, you’re far from it. The work you do before the event will likely make or break your success. Use these tips to help set yourself up for success.

Don’t procrastinate

If there’s one thing I always try to avoid it is procrastination. When planning an event too often people think things just happen overnight. In fact, to plan a quality event takes weeks, months, or even years to ensure everything is in place. Before you do anything make sure you have the date and venue squared away. Other than figuring out funding for the event these two components are crucial and must be done in advance. Personally, when I program anything I’m ideally planning six months out, but depending on the event three to four weeks will work.

Planning

This is important when marketing because you should have a marketing schedule in place and know when, where, and how you plan to market your venture. Marketing is a balance. If you market too soon people will forget about the event when the time comes. if you market too late, people may have already made other plans and you missed out. Your marketing strategy will vary depending on the program intended.

For classes I teach I begin to promoting and marketing approximately one month before it begins. If I’m working with a third party, such as a parks and rec department, the marketing going out through them will vary as well. One month out and people should begin to see or hear about the program in more than one medium (audio, video, print, digital).

I’m a firm believer that only going digital (social media) is not the answer for everyone. I still use print media because it’s still an effective way of marketing. Three weeks out and I’ve begun to get print and digital media out there. The closer I get to the start date the more frequently I post about it. This is where shares, likes, and engagement is helpful to raise awareness. One thing you’ll learn through this process is that you’ll likely see the brunt of registration happen within the week leading up, but really within a 48hr window to the start of a program. People put things off to the last minute so be aware of that.

Camps

 If I’m running a camp the timeline for my marketing will increase. Instead of a month to start promoting I will begin marketing a camp as early as six months to over a year ahead of time. While six months may seem excessive it’s not. Think about how you plan your summers or holidays breaks. If you have kids, they tend to fill up rather quickly. If you’re looking to put your kids in camps throughout the summer having more information to make informed decisions is important. It could be the difference between someone signing up for your program or going somewhere else. If you’re planning a camp for June-Aug I would highly recommend having your camp information and marketing together and released sometime in January.

No matter how you approach your marketing I encourage you to take the time to sit down and form a plan. Mark down when materials are going out, when they need to be printed and distributed. If you’re able to distribute print materials through schools make sure to go through their approval process, though most schools are going away from print and using digital. If you’re using social media you can target specific areas, which helps, but plan on budgeting money to get the best result.

Get out there. Make a plan. With the right moves your program will be a success.

Camps, Camps, and more Camps

Growing up playing sports or being around sports was what I wanted to do. I played a number of sports throughout the year and, especially in the summer. I can vividly remember going to a handful of sports camps as a kid. At that time the focus was just something to do.

There weren’t elite camps, especially what you see now. For my mom keeping her four kids active and out of the house during the summer. I was fortunate to have those experiences. I’m thankful for those opportunities. They shaped my childhood, and I’m sure many others have had similar experiences themselves.

At the younger ages, a camp is basically daycare and is a great way to increase revenue for the year. Parents are looking for a fun activity for their child to keep them busy and active during the day. I’ve had some people try to argue with me on this fact. They claim that camps are designed to increase a players overall performance and development. At the older ages I agree. I won’t argue that as there are many camps that do just that. However, if you’ve attended one of these camps or worked an all-day one sport specific camp you know how difficult it is to keep a child’s attention on one sport all day for a week. There’s only so much training and development that can be done over 6-8 hours. Equally, there’s only so much attention space kids have. Keep that in mind when planning your camp.  

As the youth sports culture has evolved the economic impact of camps has become big business. A result of this is the market being saturated with just about any camp activity you can think of. When planning a camp create something different. Establish what your goals are and build your camp off of that. Too often we think having a name behind the camp automatically means success. If you can provide value, and many can, you’re on your way to a successful camp.

If you have the skills to teach, or can learn, you can run a camp. There’s more to it on the back end, but it’s doable, and you can run a quality and efficient camp. I would personally recommend avoiding a camp that’s focused solely on drills and scrimmages. I think a key to a development camp at the younger levels should focus on skill building but doing it through play based games. In an effort to focus on training I feel some forget to include or encourage fun into the experience. The hope is that all campers learn and develop, but more importantly that they have fun and enjoy the experience.

Floorball like other sports is a great addition as a camp, for a long time I avoided running an all-day sport specific youth camp. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which have nothing to do with the sport. I’ve found that if it can open up more potential issues as people get tired and bored, especially as the week drags on. I’m speaking specifically to camps with younger kids in particularly. It’s not always the case, but it’s something to take note of.

If you’re thinking about running a camp figure out what your target market is and how you’re going to run and manage it. Do it. Don’t wait. Don’t ask for permission. Figure it out and make it happen. If you think you can provide value through the process make it happen. In the end the ones who will benefit are the kids, and that should be the end game.

Stick Sizing Matters

One of the questions I seem to get more often, especially from new players, is what size stick should I get? This is a pretty basic question but is an important one to ask. I see a general assumption among newer players that a longer stick is preferred. But why?

It’s an interesting phenomenon really. If you put a stack of sticks in front of people they’ll generally grab a larger stick. Is the assumption that a longer stick equals a better stick? Or, is it an educational piece that they just simply don’t understand. I think for many they’ve been inadvertently conditioned to think that a hockey type sport should have a similar size stick. For many when they think of hockey they think of the hockey stick that is as tall as they are, especially in comparison to a Floorball stick.

If you’re starting out or are teaching Floorball for the first time you’ll quickly see this process play out if you have multiple sizes of sticks. However, the bigger is better idea doesn’t always work in Floorball. While a hockey stick is typically sized to around the chin, a Floorball stick is sized to around the belly. Don’t forget that the hockey stick is longer because you’re also standing on skates.

What matters is the height of the player in relation to the size of the stick for a proper fit. Too long and they player is unable to access the full performance of the stick. Too short and they will struggle physically with the sport. Both put the body out of optimal movement which reduces effectiveness and overall fun for the player. The challenge for taller players is there are limits to the length of the stick, but the International Floorball Federation does have allowances for longer sticks, though they’re harder find.

By having a short stick, in comparison to hockey, the player is able to control the ball in tighter space. By having the ability to keep the ball close to the body it makes it harder for the defense to steal it. It also allows for quicker movements in motion to move the ball, and it allows the player to flex the stick to generate optimal power. These are the basic concepts that should be implored on everyone when we talk about education of the sport. We need to make sure that people know and understand why a stick that’s properly fitted will improve their development, but also their overall enjoyment of the game.

When I teach this is one of the first things I discuss. While I don’t hand sticks out I separate them accordingly and tell players which sticks to look for. Inevitably I get kids who grab a larger stick than they need. I don’t always correct them. I’ll let them work with it, and usually they struggle. At this point I will encourage them or hand them the proper stick and ask them to tell the difference. It doesn’t take too long for them to realize which one is the better fit. It’s about education and it may seem like a small thing, but the more we can educate the better understanding players will have; which only adds to their own learning and hopefully enjoyment of the sport.

Good things take time

Starting any new venture can be both exciting and nerve wrecking. If you’re stepping out and doing something new you’ve likely invested in that venture. That investment could usually come in the form of money, sweat equity, and an emotional investment in the process. It’s no small feat to make these investments, and in the beginning, there are visions of grandeur as we plot out the path of our new venture. While it’s great to have those visions the timeline that they may or may not come to fruition may vary. My path in Floorball has been no different.

I found Floorball a bit late in the game. However, having a background and experience in developing new programs, coaching, and being active helped me see a vision for Floorball. It’s been 6 years from that initial finding that I’m here today, and while the timeline hasn’t always worked out I’ve tried hard to show up and do the work. I’m convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Floorball has a bright future. While many see the future of the sport from a retail perspective, I see the potential from many different angles, and see it flourishing. The first step in the process is developing it at the youth levels.

Development in youth is a long and tedious process, one that is not for the faint of heart. In many ways it’s a sacrifice, but one that will pay dividends in the long run. The hard truth about any new venture is that usually it requires one person who puts in the effort pushing things along with the hope of getting more people on board. This process will get frustrating and it’s an easy trap that many people fall into. They think it’s going to be easy, or that it will catch on immediately. There are assumptions that people make but don’t do the work to follow up with it, or at the very least they don’t think outside the box.

For me, I saw the potential in Floorball through youth classes. I had a lot of experience developing youth sports and felt this was a great fit. I was right, and I’ll be the first person to argue that it’s the starting point. I reached out to my local parks and recreation department and developed a relationship. Through that partnership I started teaching. Three years later I’m still teaching regularly and making an impact in the sport and on the lives of kids in my city. From the instructional classes spawned a league, clinics, and camps. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, and in fact it took about two years of teaching classes before I did my first league and camp. Now people know what Floorball is and mark it on their calendar as something to look forward to each season.

While it’s nice to have a partnership, it doesn’t always work. Nothing wrong with that, and when I started my first league at the time the city wasn’t interested. It wasn’t that they didn’t support it, they just didn’t see it working out at that time. You’re going to run into this, but how are you going to react? My option was to push forward. I was able to get gym space for the league from the city, but I had to market it and run it on my own. I believed it would work because I had laid a foundation of teaching classes that I felt a league was the next step. I was right; and was able to start my first league in the fall of 2018. When I got the initial no, I could have given up. I could have pushed things back, or I could have pushed onward. I chose to push onward.

For those of you reading this I think the best advice I can give is to try. We’re too worried about failure and how that will make us look to those around us. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been there. However, I’d rather try and fail than not try at all. I regularly tell that to my own kids, and the kids I teach. Push yourself and if you fail along the way learn from it and keep trying. If you’re in the process of starting Floorball I’d love to help you along that way.

Physical Literacy and Floorball

In the field of recreation, fitness, and physical education there are some terms or buzz words that get thrown around with some regularity. One of the particular buzz words is physical literacy. Some of you may know what that means, or be able to deduce the meaning from the word itself. It’s not intended to be rocket science, but the more and more you think about it to be physically literate is something we should all strive for. Floorball is just one more tool that can be used to help others develop and improve their own physical literacy.

What is physical literacy? For the purposes of this topic we’ll use the following definition.

Physical literacy is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” (Mandigo, Francis, Lodewyk & Lopez, 2012)

Let’s look into this a bit further. As children we are in a constant state of development. It’s talked about on a regular basis, and in many ways is the core to our existence as people. If you break it down it’s essentially asking you to develop a wide array of skills to move. This could include throwing a ball while moving, standing on one foot with the other in the air, and so on. This notion is not a new thing, but the problem is that as we’ve evolved in different ways we’re missing out this development.

From an athletic standpoint more and more youth programs are specializing in one sport at younger levels it’s hurting a players overall physical development. This lack of development is being seen at the highest levels of competition. Players are so focused on one sport, skill, and movement that they don’t know how to move. There is so much more to dive into on this specific topic, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Coming back to physical literacy and Floorball. For many, the concept of using a stick to control, move, defend and play with is a foreign concept. Or, at the very least is not something they do on a regular basis. In teaching the sport I’m somewhat astonished at the lack of skill in this area. It shouldn’t surprise me too much given a lack of opportunity for kids in my area to use a hockey stick. We just don’t have it, unless they happen to play floor hockey one week out of the year in school. However, as they develop those skills their confidence increases, and their level of skill increases in a number of ways.

If you’re a teacher and you’re wondering if floorball will meet standards it does. I talk about that in my book Floorball Guru Primer, as I wanted to make sure it would. Think about the motion of swinging the stick, stopping the ball, dribbling using static and dynamic movements. All of it fits, and I would argue giving kids opportunities to do things they’re not used to will help them improve in other ways beyond the physical. At the very least the great thing about Floorball is that it’s really hard to stay still and not be engaged in the game. I encourage you to check it out.

Importance of focusing on youth development

I’ve tried really hard to consistently evaluate Floorball and where I think it’s going in order to best prepare, plan, and make the right moves to push it forward. It’s funny when this process happens at times because I don’t usually just sit down and think about it. It’ll come up as I’m doing something else, or if I have time to let my mind wander. Working in and around sports for the majority of my life has helped shape my view on some of this stuff. While many are trying to figure out how to grow the sport, I think the best answers are usually the simplest ones. It should come as a surprise, but for some reason this answer is difficult for some to grasp. I believe if you truly want to grow Floorball you have to develop it at the youth levels.

Simple right? Makes sense when you think about it, but then why isn’t more emphasis placed on it? Some will immediately jump to putting the burden on schools and having them running it in P.E. class. We’ve been seeing a number of NHL teams jump into Floorball and offer it in a variety of ways. Don’t get me wrong this is great to see, but what we’re not seeing in return are clubs or organizations created and developing Floorball programs to push things along as well. That’s a potential problem.

One of the things I believe is key to success and is something missing are businesses popping up to teach the sport, start leagues, and grow the game from that standpoint. The business models are already out there from other sports the question is who is willing to put in the work to do it? I venture there are a number of people out there willing to take advantage of the untapped opportunity, but many will just sit on the sidelines and see what happens. They will be happy to talk about how the sport should be here or there, but not as willing to put in the work to make it happen. That’s one of the things that’s more frustrating to me and is a lost opportunity. I think we’ll see pockets of things happening, and eventually it’s going to catch on.

Like other sports and the clearly lucrative youth sports segment I’m amazed that more people are trying to tap into this purely from an economic standpoint. I’m not even talking about the retail potential, which will eventually become crowded, I’m talking about people being able to somewhat corner a market in their area or region if they so choose. Soccer is a great example of this. In the early years you saw maybe a small handful of businesses teaching soccer classes, but mostly camps. Now it seems like everyone is doing some sort of soccer camp or program. Floorball could become that, and I believe that through the youth focus it will. Just watch in time, you’ll start to see more and more things pop up regarding Floorball. The question is are you going to be part of it, or the one playing catch up when, not if, they take hold?

Outside forces and their impacts on Floorball development

Floorball, like all developing sports are fighting tooth and nail for recognition and validity in the sporting world. It’s the struggle for all emerging sports. If you spend a little time digging you’ll likely be amazed at the plethora of sports that are out there in the world. While some may only focus on the more worldwide popular ones (American Football, Football (soccer), Basketball, Baseball, Cricket, Hockey, to name a few) there are so many other emerging sports that could change the landscape of popular sports. 

Floorball is one of those emerging sports that is pushing to become mainstream world-wide. It has all of the ingredients of being a success, and in some ways it is, though in its current form hasn’t quite pushed into the upper echelon. I think that a key portion of it’s long-term success lies in North America. What can be done?  How can Floorball push through the noise of other competing sports and steal a larger share of the market?

What’s the best way to attract a larger group of people to anything? In the digital age it’s all about going viral, and the impact that viral content can generate. Floorball has seen some of that attention online, specifically through zoro or trick videos. Some of these videos generate thousands of hits and help draw some attention to the sport. However, it’s not the game changer the sport needs.

The best method is to look at what other sports are doing well and copy it. I’m not saying don’t get creative, but there’s one surefire method to grow an emerging sport. To get as many kids playing as possible. This should come as no surprise if you follow me. I firmly believe this wholeheartedly, and carry this out myself. Here’s the catch. Other sports won’t like it, and won’t welcome the new competition for resources, kids, or space. However, in North America Floorball pails in comparison to awareness, education, player and coach development as other sports.

In my ideal world I would be able to get in front of large groups of people around the country and train them on the sport, and how to be successful. There are times I’m able to do this, but mostly I can’t. As a collective we need to be creative. We need to be creating more resources to break down barriers. We need to be looking at what’s working and figure out how to build it out at scale. It boggles my mind that more Floorball companies aren’t popping up, or that established ones, specifically those overseas, aren’t investing in Floorball development in North America. It’s probably one of the last and largest markets to grow heavily. I think it will happen, but I think a lot of people are just watching to see what will happen before they decide to get involved.  

Floorball is already a stick and a ball sport so it’s got that going for it. Like other emerging sports it has a huge potential to steal market share, but it needs to think small before growing big. I think focusing on grassroots development and supporting that through basic recreational play, classes, and leagues are what will make Floorball a household name. While it will take some time to happen it’s exciting to be here on the ground floor working to do just that, and see how it will evolve over time.

Don’t give away your value

Anytime you start something new you will face naysayers.  In many cases these people will come from those closest to you.  These same people will likely come to you with what they believe are good intentions to deter and discourage you from pursuing, or pushing forward in your new venture.  While many people want to say they support your new venture many will not.  Frankly there’s nothing wrong with that.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions whether they should share it or not.  The challenge you will face is to either bow to the criticism or push past it.  If you’ve started a business, program, or venture most won’t be able to see the vision that you see.  You must show it to them your value.

When starting my business I was routinely asked by my mentor and friend a simple question.  What does success look like? Success for everyone is defined differently. Does success in a venture mean money or a specific amount of money? Does it me freedom to do what you wish? Does it mean having the ability to bring value to other people? Here’s the trick to the question. Whatever success looks like to you own it. The main step is taking steps to answer that question.   When you do answer it move onto the next piece that will take you even further.

As your business or venture progresses, and you’re doing the right things to cause a ruckus, people will begin reaching out to you.  You may be surprised and encouraged that you’re making an impact, but be careful.  I want to see the good in people, and I hope that people act in good faith.  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  People will see what you’re doing and will look to steal it and claim it as their own. Don’t fear it happening work to make sure that you’re the better product on the market. That means you need to prove yourself time and time again.

Another person and/or business may come to you under a clouded veil.  They may offer you something, or frankly nothing, but in return they want to gain access to the network and value that you’ve created.  Watch out for these people.  Every time this comes up take time to step back and evaluate what’s being offered, and what you may be giving up in return.  If the opportunity doesn’t benefit you pass on it. A good partnership should benefit both parties.  If someone wants to use your services they should be willing to pay for it.  If they’re not, then they’re not really interested and may be looking to get something for nothing. It’s one thing if you’re priced out of the market. Depending on the market you’re after make sure you know where you land. If your focus is on the high end then make sure you’re services reflect your pricing. If the value is there your customers will come in time.

I once had someone word for word copy and paste my blog onto their website and tried to claim it as their own.  When I confronted them about it they tried to make it sound like they were doing me a favor.  Mind you, they had not asked for permission to do so, and in most cases people never will regardless of copyright.  My initial reaction was to say that it was a simple mistake.  While I’ll never know whether that was true I fought them on it.  Eventually they took the information down, but I wouldn’t have known what steps to take without support from my business mentor.  Knowing the value, you bring comes with having a solid group of people around you.  This group of people have no stake in your business, but are there to fight alongside of you and help you protect it.

If people are attacking you don’t run from the attack, embrace it.  People usually don’t care what’s going on outside of their own lives.  If they’re taking the time to attack you then you’re clearly doing something right.  Keep your head down and push forward.  Don’t stop for anything and be willing to fight when the time calls.  Whether you know it or not, there are people out there that want to see you succeed. Keep at it.

It will happen, but it won’t happen overnight

The development of any sport, program, business, or ventures one that takes a lot of time. Too often we fall into the trap that unless things take off right away they either won’t work or are a failure. In the conversations I’ve had over the years there seems to be a bit of frustration about the development of Floorball. Many who have found Floorball see and know its potential, but they also want it to be main stream now. While in some ways that would be wonderful in others it would be difficult to sustain. Plus, on top of that you have to have the support and framework behind it to be sustainable. By rushing the process you not only hurt the product, but potentially make it harder to sustain it in the long term. It will happen, but it won’t happen overnight.

The sports landscape is an ever increasingly challenging one. It’s a challenge sometimes just to keep up with the latest trends, or even know what some sports are. Take a look at the World Games Sports lineup for 2021 and I’ll be you’ll find a number of sports you didn’t know existed. This makes any sport looking to grow difficult to break through the noise. People will also try to compare other popular sports with where they think Floorball should be.

In a conversation once, someone tried to link the success soccer has had in the U.S. and wondered why Floorball wasn’t as popular. There are a number of reasons for that, but people tend to forget the path soccer has had in the U.S.  They forget that it wasn’t a popular sport for almost 30 years. It’s only in the last 10 years or so, caught on to some degree. However, even now as it’s become more mainstream it’s still fighting to keep players, fans, and grow in the U.S. Time will tell on the long term development of soccer in the U.S. and I believe that the same will ring true for Floorball.

I believe that the sports landscape is shifting in a different direction than it has in the past 20 years. I think that as many mainstream sports (basketball, soccer, football, and baseball) have become so exclusive that people are open to trying new things. We’re pushing kids at younger and younger ages to be sport specific, and then trick them and their parents into believing that paying boat loads of money to travel year round is what’s not only good for the player, but necessary. This has slowly created pockets of athletic players who can’t afford to play, or are phased out as opportunities to compete diminish at the higher levels.

This is where Floorball can step in. The best thing going for it is that people are willing to try it. There are not developed travel teams and exclusive leagues. This is an opportunity for Floorball to try and capitalize on that. What it requires is hard work, patience, and diligence. Over time it has the potential to become something bigger. I’m actively doing this in my city and county. It has taken years to get from one step to the next, but I feel in time that will pay dividends.  I think as a whole Floorball will see positive sustainable growth if they plan for the long-term and set up a solid foundation throughout the U.S. The question is, will you join me in this process?

New Year, More Floorball

The end of 2019 is right around the corner. As many of us say, I can’t believe another year has passed. Even more so the older we get the faster it all seems to move, especially if we have kids. With the advent of a new year and new decade I sit down and think about what the last 365 days have brought.

There were a lot of highlights this year, a number of challenges, some set backs, and some successes along the way. 2019 started with the launch of my first youth Floorball league. I’ve been teaching classes for years and had grown the demand and interest to a point where the league was the next step. While it was a small turnout I was very pleased to see it happen, and to see the kids grow and evolve. The biggest part of this was how much fun the kids had. This was an important step because part of my goal is to build leagues in addition to classes. Overall seeing more kids participate in programs throughout the year has been a highlight.

Later on in the year I was honored to be invited to the U19 World Floorball Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was honored to be included in the event not only as a spectator but to be there to help promote the sport in Canada. As part of the festivities I was able to run a few clinics for kids in the area. The highlight was cheering on the amazing athletes, and partake in an amazing event.

I was also honored to present at the National Parks and Recreation Association’s National Conference in Baltimore. Throughout my career in recreation I’ve been able to attend a number of recreation conferences, but this was my first National conference, and first time presenting. This was a wonderful experience and a great way to connect with other parks and recreation professionals. It didn’t hurt that the keynote was Hall of Fame Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr.

The biggest challenge to the year was deciding to launch my own line of branded Floorball sticks. I think there’s a lot of value in having more Floorball brands out there, and in a new market that’s even more important. Each brand brings with it their own voice, style, and approach. While I may not agree with others on their approach, the key is having multiple voices out there. My main approach has been to focus on education, instruction, and development of the sport. I’ve done this by providing a variety of resources in the hopes of helping others learn, teach, and play Floorball. The addition of retail allows me to better serve customers. The support from people within my community has been wonderful. Seeing kids who are in my programs get excited about it has been a blessing.

There’s a lot more to come in 2020 and I’m excited for what’s to come. I thank everyone for following along and for their support. I hope I’ve brought value to you and I hope my work is helping get more people involved in Floorball. I’m passionate about this sport and I love the journey I’m on. If there’s a way I can help you please let me know. Here’s to a new year!

Floorball Stick Sizing

If there’s one question I get from people it’s usually around what stick they should buy. That question isn’t always an easy one to answer because everyone has preferences. As you begin to search for floorball sticks you’ll likely find any number of sticks with varying prices and functions.  Beginner sticks tend to fall in a price range of about $30-50 and tend to have more flex in the shaft.  This information can be found sometimes in the description of the stick (Salming 32, etc.).  On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find professional level sticks fall in a price range of $150-230.  What’s the difference and why would I spend that kind of money?  The main reason to purchase a professional level stick is that it does provide an increase in performance.  As you develop as a player you’ll begin to find what works for you and a professional level stick will help increase your skills and playing abilities.  A professional level stick will also have a variety of options from stick flex, type of grip, and coupled with the right style of blade can make a positive impact in your game.

If they happen to know a few things like their style of play it’s easier to direct them. However, a much easier question to answer is what size stick is best for you?In an instructional setting, it is important to take time to properly size the stick to the participant and ascertain whether the player is right-handed or left-handed.

When introducing this concept some players may already know how they hold the stick; if not, there are a few tricks to quickly assess this in a large group setting. The key is comfort for the player. They may assume they are right-handed, but they may be more comfortable playing left-handed. Have players grab the stick. If their right hand is closest to the end of the stick the stick will fall to the left side of the body, meaning they use a left-handed stick. Talk to the player and encourage them to find out what is most comfortable for them to play with. At the very lest have them try one and see what happens. Doing it this way can make it a bit more obvious which side they prefer.

Choosing a stick is an investment in the sport and you want to make sure you have the proper tools to be successful. A stick that’s too short or too long can hamper the learning process because you’re not able to maximize your play. You can get buy with a bit longer stick, but it’s much harder for taller players to play with shorter sticks. Be thinking about that as you plan out what you’re looking to buy. If you’re buying a stick for your kid err on the side of a little bit longer knowing they’ll likely hit a growth spurt in the relative future. It should be at their chin, but if it’s a bit above the belly it’ll work just fine. Go out and find that stick for you. If you’re looking for your first stick check out what we have to offer for individuals, schools, and programs in our online shop.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

If you’ve ever started something new and built it from the ground up you know the struggles that lie before you. For some the notion of starting something new is scary. It might be so challenging for you that you psyche yourself out and stop before you even try. Somewhere along the line you decided to let negativity and doubt creep in and decide for you what you should do. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s become part of our culture to hide in the shadows, not rock the boat, and just skate by. But what if you tried?  You have an idea in your head that’s been knocking around for some time now but have you acted on it?

I want to share with you something personal. A vision I’ve had in my head for years now. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to work in recreation and sports in a variety of capacities. I’ve been through ups and downs, and I’ve been around long enough to look for opportunities as they arise. For me, when I found Floorball it was like a light switch. Immediately I had a vision for what this sport could be in the US. The challenge has been how to effectively carry that vision out. I’m not the only one out there who sees the value of the sport, but I see my path and I’m doing what I can to make it happen. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs along the way, but if I were to chart out a strategic plan I’m more or less right on track.

It’s important when starting anything new to have markers or goals that you can check off along the way. It’s something that allows you to gauge where you are in the process, but also take note of successes. It helps clarify what you need to accomplish and make a plan to accomplish those markers.

For me the first step was starting a business. I had to first define what type of business I wanted to create. Once I did that the vision for moving forward became that much clearer. I wanted to focus on developing education in the sport. I began writing blogs, blogs, and more blogs. I wrote an instruction book so anyone could learn and teach the sport, I started a podcast, I started speaking at conferences, doing floorball demos at schools, teaching instructional classes for kids, and started a floorball league. All of this happened in the first two years of my business. It’s been quote the ride so far. But let me be clear it hasn’t been easy but that’s ok.

For those who think starting out you’re going to make a ton of money it’s just not likely. You’re going to spend a lot of time and money building something that you hope will make money. Ultimately the market is what will decide. What I’ve tried to do as I’ve evolved my business is to play the long game. I’m developing content all the time, and I’m doing what I can to better position myself in the market while working to create the market. The hope is that over time more and more people are able to connect with what I’m doing and get involved in Floorball.  If you’re thinking of starting something I encourage you to just do it. Don’t wait, don’t hem and haw, just get after it.  You won’t regret it.

Floor hockey is not Floorball the difference matters

There’s a misconception that needs to be cleared up. It is important that you understand this concept because it matters. Simply put, floor hockey is not the same as Floorball. It may be similar, but it is very much its own sport. If you’re playing floor hockey you may have even made adaptions to the rules, which are likely the rules of Floorball. If that’s the case the only thing you’re missing is the equipment. Again, while they’re similar sports at first glance they are in fact different.

When people see Floorball for the first time they immediately recall their school days when they would play hockey in PE. For many this became the best program of the year. If you lived in areas without ice hockey or a hockey culture you were excited about doing something different. However, after school it pretty much ended. It wasn’t common to find hockey being played on the playground in many regions around the US. In the 90’s street hockey had a surge with roller hockey  grabbing the attention of ESPN with leagues popping up in California, but that didn’t last very long. While street hockey grew, floor hockey as a full-fledged program hasn’t done a lot beyond being played in school. There’s also a distinction that needs to be noted based on where you live. Floor hockey (also known as ball hockey or dek hockey) does have a bigger presence in certain areas. Typically in the north eastern US.

Floor hockey is more or less hockey without skates, and the rules closely follow ice hockey. This is a key difference between floor hockey and Floorball. It’s important to note the difference and call each sport what it is. Calling Floorball and floor hockey the same thing confuses more than helps. In fact I’ve had conversations with people who immediately discredit Floorball as a sport because of their history and views on floor hockey. I’m even seeing some promote and sell Floorball equipment as floor hockey equipment. I understand they’re trying to bridge a gap between hockey culture to make the connection. However, a lack of education on the language and sport creates more challenges. If Floorball is to raise awareness and grow it is vital they we’re all using the same language.

The nice thing about Floorball is that it draws from other sports such as hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. From the rules to game play it is a sport that if you’ve played any of those will understand the format of how to play. The key differences of the sport are built around the rules. While floor hockey allows a lot of body and stick contact Floorball does not. This is crucial because we need to be playing Floorball not a pseudo form of hockey. What you’ll find in understanding these differences is that Floorball really is a different sport.

The argument that Floorball is the same as floor hockey baffles me. If you’ve played the two you’ll quickly understand why they’re not. There’s nothing wrong with either. I think that there is a lot of value in both and offering both. However, I believe that Floorball has a better potential to build into a regular fledgling sport. Having been around for 30 years floor hockey has not developed the same way soccer or basketball has, sepcific to youth leagues and development. I firmly believe, and it’s starting to show, that Floorball can and will be able to build from a primarily instructional activity to a developed sport.

Floorball is currently being developed across the world. It lends itself to being inclusive to all populations from the rules of the game and the quality of the equipment. This is what separates it from floor hockey, and will allow it to continue to grow around the world. Ice hockey is taking notice and using it as part of off-ice development. Schools are using it because they like the safety component of the sport through the rules and equipment. Kids and adults like it because it’s a fun, fast, cost effective, and engaging sport that can be played anywhere. There is a difference between Floorball and floor hockey, and it’s important to know and understand the differences. I think when you do you’ll choose Floorball.

Connecting Floorball with Community

Floorball has been a blessing in my life. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to travel the world playing and coaching. I’ve worked with groups of all ages and abilities with a focus on growing the game. Being able to work in the field of recreation, sports, athletics, education has truly opened my eyes to the impacts sports has on one’s life. This matters even more for young children who are trying to find their way in the world. Sports can have an impact that goes far beyond the court or field. In the end it’s about developing community and a place to feel welcome and connected.

Working in collegiate recreation I always looked for opportunities to connect students with the broader community. It’s too easy to silo ourselves in what we know or what is comfortable. My job is to develop spaces, programs, and opportunities for students to connect and let them do so. Sometimes that role is more obvious than others. Everything I do I try to think about what impact it would bring and how it might connect people together. A recreation center can be a cog to that process, and it is my focus to create a welcome and inclusive space for all. That challenge requires a willingness to think outside the box to provide programs and opportunities to attract new people to the building.  Sometimes that means adding a new group fitness program or adjusting what and when classes are offered. Other times it means offering new and different sports.  That’s where Floorball came in.

I have actively used Floorball to not only provide a new sport, but to attract new students that are not already engaged in the department. For the most part I would argue that the process has worked. It has taken some time to build, but in the end my goal from the first demo was that students would act of their own accord. After four years, I have students that are continuously engaged in playing the sport, active in seeking out opportunities, and are creating their own community as a result. What I’ve enjoyed in the process is empowering students to find their own path. If that happened to include Floorball great! Without the broader collegiate community working with me it wouldn’t have been successful.

While I’m working with students on campus throughout the year, I’m also able to connect with our international population too. I routinely get opportunities to work with new groups that come from all over the world. What I’ve found from the international students is that they recognize why they’re there and use any opportunity to experience and try new things. This willingness and having a captivated audience has given me some wonderful opportunities to connect with these students. I am hopeful because of being introduced to Floorball they might seeking it out back home, thus expanding the overall Floorball community.

The focus to build community matters. In order to build anything new it is vital to create a sense of community. Once you do that you need to create consistency. Those two factors will help grow whatever you’re trying to build.

Building a Brand – A daunting task

If you’ve been following me over the years, you’ll likely know that I’m passionate about Floorball. This is not a sport that I grew up playing, though I wish I had. I came to the sport later in life, but I see what it is and what it can become, and I’ve been working to build it ever since. Starting a business was not something I ever thought I would do. Though, I’m always on the lookout for new things, and when I found Floorball I was hooked. Once this happened I started forming an idea for a business in Floorball. It wasn’t until a chance encounter and a push from an outside source that I jumped in and started a business.

Prior to starting this venture I had gotten to know the market of Floorball in the U.S. and got to know some of the players. Overall, it’s a small community so everyone knows everyone else. This allowed me to figure out what path would be best for me and my talents. I also wanted to look and how I could separate myself from the pack. Through the guidance from someone who would become my business mentor and later friend (who came up with the name) I set out to start Floorball Guru, LLC. I’ll be honest I didn’t care for the name Guru, but I can’t even remember what other names I tried to come up with. Reluctantly I agreed to the name and pushed forward. The main reason I struggled with the name was internal doubt that I had value to bring to the game. It was a lack of self-confidence in myself that I could do it. As I started to build the business I found my confidence. I was also confronted with a few unique situations where I had to stand up for myself and my brand. All of this was part of the process that helped me grow as a person and business.

What sets Floorball Guru apart from other businesses in Floorball is that I’m focused primarily on developing content. I have a deep passion for the sport and I felt the best way for me was to share that knowledge to help others. I felt that the more education and resource materials I could produce the more willing people would be to listen and act. The first step in the development of the business was creating enough content to keep the ball rolling. Before I launched the business, I wrote a year’s worth of content that could be sent out weekly through social media and a newsletter.

This process was tedious but set a foundation that has evolved over time. Doing so has freed me and my business to expand and pursue other avenues to build on top of the educational platform. Over time I started my podcast as a means to expand what I was doing. I’ve also done videos, though that’s one area I’m still working to improve. It also allowed me time and space to write and publish a book on Floorball. The Floorball Guru Primer was everything I wanted to develop. A resource that anyone could read to learn, teach, and grow Floorball on their own. I would say it’s doing just that.

The latest evolution in the brand has been to start selling my own branded equipment. This process has been a challenging but interesting one. I’m still learning every day, but I know it was the best step going forward. So far the response has been very positive, and I’m excited to see where it all goes.

As Floorball Guru continues to evolve you will continue to see more and more content designed to grow the sport in sustainable ways.  If you want to get involved in Floorball please reach out as I’d love to speak with you and help support you and your program. It’s not enough to see programs start. I want to ensure they succeed and grow. I see a vision for this sport and for my brand, and I’m excited to continue to work on the growth of the sport of Floorball.

What’s your business structure?

Working in sports or recreation has been a passion of mine. My first job was working as a soccer official when I was 12. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of jobs around sport or recreation. I wish I could say that I always planned on starting a business. That wasn’t the case. However, I was encouraged to start a Floorball business as there was a need and it was something I was passionate about. How do you start a business? I had a lot of questions. I’m sure you do as well.

Creating a business takes a lot of time and energy to go from an idea in your mind to a full- fledged business.  There are many forms you’ll need to fill out and fees to pay before you can legally act as a business. Before you do anything, you’ll want to figure out what type of business or structure you want to operate as.  Simply put, you have options at your disposal, but you’ll want to decide if you want to be a non-profit or a for profit business. The paperwork is similar, and each State has specific requirements for filing, though it’s best to understand which one to choose and why.  Aside from State requirements you’ll also need to start at the Federal level filing with the IRS to obtain the proper information needed to file your State paperwork.

Depending on what you’re interested or able to pursue you may choose to file as a business, or operate as an independent contractor or 1099 employee.  To be clear 1099s and W-2s are two separate tax forms for two different types of workers. If you’re an independent contractor, you use a 1099 form, not a W-2.  As an independent contractor, you are responsible for calculating your own payroll taxes and then submitting the sum to the government on a quarterly basis.  The important distinction revolves around who has control.  Does the employer control or have the right to control what and how the worker does the job?   If you’re unsure of how to best classify it’s best to consult the IRS and your State websites to help you find specific answers.

Aside from being a 1099 employee you may choose to form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).  There are a few options that you have when filing including, S-Corp, C-Corp, Sole Proprietor.  Each one will vary depending on the type of structure you are looking to create.  It’s best to do your research in this are before you start so you have a clear understanding of the pros and cons for each.  You’ll also want to consider the different tax liabilities that come with each.  A simple google search will provide you with a plethora of information regarding this topic.  If you’re able to its recommended to check with your State government office for potential resources to help you through this process.

Floorball is a growing and viable business. At the current time the number of Floorball businesses in the US are small yet the potential for this market is quite large.  As the sport continues to grow we will see more and more people jumping in to cash in on this new sport.  I predict that the path regarding development and the businesses surrounding it will look the same as other sports. Start at the youth levels, build knowledge through education and development, and build that into leagues, clubs, etc.  It’s likely with this growth we’ll see more influence coming from overseas.  If you’ve thought about a business the time is now, don’t wait, act.

Preparing to Teach Floorball

If you’re reading this hopefully you’ve been learning about Floorball and have been reading up on the sport. If not, we have a plethora of blogs on the topic to comb through. You might be interested in the benefits it can bring to your program, and you’re curious about taking the next step. While teaching the sport is important you also want to think about the overall experience your players will have when playing. You may have to make some adaptations to your program to fit your groups needs or space restrictions.

Playing Area/Boundaries: Unless you can afford boards or have space to simulate a rink, it’s likely that you’ll be using some sort of line or walls as a field barrier.  In most cases instructors will be limited by space and other factors.  Don’t let that be a hindrance. Get creative with what you have.

Factors to consider when determining rink size:

  • Age of the participants: Younger players will get more out of the game by playing in a smaller area. This will give them more opportunities to play the ball as opposed to chase it.
  • Size of space available: You may need to break your space into smaller playing areas to maximize overall engagement.
  • Number of participants. If needed you can play 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5. This also may depend on the number of sticks available.
  • In looking at your space, what hazards are present that can or cannot be moved? What can you do to protect players from hitting potential hazards?

Having a rink is an added perk to the sport.  It is not necessary to play, and often, schools can’t afford the cost.  In many cases schools have one or two gyms; or a multi-purpose room that will suffice. Look around, and you will find space to play that suit your needs. Official-size goals are not required to play.  In many cases facilities, will already have goals (PUG goals, smaller hockey/soccer goals, or even a milk crate will work) that can be adapted for a variety of scenarios.

Guarding the Goal:  If you are not using goalies one option is to place a small goal box on the ground to mark the goalie area. Players are not allowed in the box, but sticks may enter the box. This will help give players a visual reference to stay out of, and help with overall fun of the game. If you don’t want to put anything on the floor you can use lines on a gym floor to designate the goalie area. It won’t be perfect but it will help. If you’re outside use chalk to mark the goal box. If you’re going to use tape please put specific floor tape down. Avoid masking or duct tape. This is important, especially if you’re renting space. You’ll want to buy floor tape that will not damage or leave residue on the floor when removed. It’ll keep the maintenance staff happy in the end which is always a good thing to do.

High Stick Rule: This is by far the most important rule for instructors to enforce. High sticks can lead to dangerous situations and may cause injuries.  Drive home the point that players must always keep their sticks below their waist. Reinforce this point during shots noting back swing and follow through needing to stay below the waist. Emphasize that players can’t touch the ball with their stick above the knee.  It is likely that you’ll need to remind beginning players about this rule on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to spend time reminding players each day/week of these safety rules. During play I’ve found that using verbal cues can be an effective learning tool to reinforce this rule. I may or may not stop play each time someone raises their stick, but I will make point to address it as play continues, unless it’s dangerous play.

Everyone learns at a different pace. When you think through how you’ll teach Floorball you may need to make some adaptations along the way. Make sure that you’re teaching the rules and essence of the Floorball, and as your players improve the learning curve will increase. As it increases the level of play increases, which in turns improves overall game play. Give it some time. It won’t happen overnight, but make sure you’re playing the game as designed and not a form of hockey. If you need help or more resources check out our book to help you out.

Teaching clinics at the U19 WFC

I’m a firm believer that everyone is out there searching for purpose. Purpose may look different or come in different forms for each person. However, those looking for it and open to it will ultimately find it.

When I went to college I started out as a music major. I’ve been blessed to play music most of my life and the experiences gained through that has made a deep impact on my life. However, I quickly realized that I like playing music far more than practicing, and I also wasn’t that interested in much of the curriculum. As I started searching for another path I had always thought about teaching in school. At that time my grades weren’t superb, especially to get into our college of education, which was highly competitive at Western Washington University. All hope of teaching was not lost. Little did I know that over time I would be given many opportunities to teach, and in ways I didn’t necessarily see coming.

Jump forward many years later and I’ve been able to impact many lives of those around me. Some of them I would see often while others I would see one or two days, or never again. One of the things I love about being involved in sports, specifically youth instruction and development is that I get the privilege of working with so many kids. Don’t get me wrong, at times it’s very difficult work, and I’m forever grateful to full-time teachers and educators who teach our kids on a daily basis. Every teacher regardless of what they do has those moments and experiences that show the impact they’re having. Most of the time we don’t get to see the fruition of our work, but every now and then glimmers of it come up and remind us why we teach.

This spring I was invited to the U19 Men’s World Floorball Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The company Premier Floorball, out of the area, brought me out to be part of the event. Aside from getting the chance to support Team Canada and Team USA, I got to just be a spectator. Which isn’t always the case as of late. It was wonderful watching all the teams play in such a fun atmosphere. As part of the event I put on some clinics for local kids. A few things struck out to me while I was there.

It doesn’t matter the size of the group you’re in front of you can still make an impact. While the number of kids wasn’t much for some there always lies an opportunity to make an impact. One session I ran included one child in particular. His mom and he showed up to the clinic and he seemed a little nervous. We even coaxed his older brother to join us even though he reminded me that he was a hockey player. Immediately I jumped into teacher mode. While I had two kids I ran them through a number of drills and games to get them moving and having fun. The family was there because they were looking for something for the younger son to do and Floorball sounded like something he would be interested in. In a 35 min time frame he took to the sport quite well. It wasn’t much time, but at the end it was apparent to me that he had fun. I encouraged them to sign up with the local club and give it a shot. I don’t know it they ever did that, but I’m hopeful that through a positive experience with Floorball that he might down the road.

We never know the impact we will make on people. Sometimes we have a lifetime with people, and others we have fleeting moments. We have the opportunity each time to make a lasting impact. Hopefully that impact is a positive one, and while it may not always work out that way we still have the chance each day. I’m grateful for every moment I get to explore my purpose and share it with others. I hope if you’re reading this you’ve found yours, or are open to seeing what that is for you.

Demonstrating Floorball to Collegiate Rec Programs

I love traveling and seeing what else is out there. When possible I’ve tried to link my travels with Floorball in some capacity. Whether that’s running a camp while I’m on vacation, or setting up a demo program while I’m traveling to speak. I think utilizing the opportunity is an important one when you have it. I was traveling to Bellingham, WA for the 2018 NIRSA Region VI conference where I was attending and speaking both on the Floorball and on the process of becoming a recreation director at a University. Bellingham is home to Western Washington University and is my Alma Mater.

I spent my undergraduate time working in campus recreation from the outdoor center on campus to working in the recreation center. Knowing I would be in the area I reached out to my old boss to inquire if there would be interest in offering a floorball demo on campus. He agreed and we set forth a plan to market and build awareness of the event. One of the challenges faced right off the bat was the timing of the event. I had a commitment for the conference at 5pm so we ended up running the event in the early to late afternoon. If you’ve spent much time on a college campus you’ll know that 1-4pm isn’t the ideal time to run a program. It’s not a terrible time, but it’s not the peak time of the facility by any means. However, it was the time that worked in my schedule to make something happen. I figured at the very least it couldn’t hurt to try.

Prior to getting there I worked with the campus recreation department to develop marketing materials and work to put the message out on social media. When partnering with another group or organization it’s important to have buy in from them on the program. They need to be the driving force on putting content out through their channels. Without it there is little hope of getting awareness, especially if you’re an outside group coming on to campus. As an alum I also used my connections with professors I knew who helped push the program out through their channels. I also made contacts with other student organizations on campus that I felt would be interested in something like this. The group that bought in was the WWU Hockey Club. They were instrumental in helping promote the event, and used it as a way to connect with the student body in a different way.

The day of the event came, we set everything up and waited. I’d be lying if I said we had all these student rushing to come play Floorball. In reality we had very little. It could have been the time of day, day of the week, or people weren’t interested. The students who did come and play were from the WWU Hockey Club. At the very least it was great getting to meet them and connect. As the afternoon wore on we were able to get enough to start playing. As more came the game grew, and what happened next was what I hoped would happen. We were located in the back gym of the facility. It’s on the path to the locker rooms, and is very visible to students walking by.

As we were playing I noticed two students stop in their tracks when they saw what we were doing. They watched for a bit, and then came over to inquire. We were able to get them into the game and we played for about 20 minutes. It was that sort of reaction that I was hoping for. Not only did they connect with Floorball they also got to meet new students and connect with the hockey club. If you only looked at the direct number of students involved in the program you might think it was a failure. I don’t see it that way. I saw an opportunity to impact even one person towards Floorball as a positive, and I think we did more than that on that day.

The landscape of campus recreation is already starting to change. I know that campus recreation professionals (including myself at Saint Martin’s University) are trying to find ways to connect with students. In many cases that requires new thinking, new programs, and new equipment. I know that Floorball has a place in collegiate recreation programming. Whether it’s located in intramural sports, club sports, or one day as a varsity sport.

Importance of a Board of Directors

There’s a lot of information that goes into a business, and you certainly want to make sure that you’re following all of your State and Federal rules and regulations.  There are a number of steps that you’ll need to go through before you get it off the ground.  Plus you’ll want to seriously think through the entire process of how things will work before you launch.  While you may be really excited about getting your new venture off the ground; the key here is taking the time do to it right.  Slow things down, do your research, and get all of your documents and contracts prepared before you push forward.  The more prepared, methodical, and clear you are in the process the easier it will be to get things going in the beginning.

If you’re building a non-profit make sure to operate it as one.  Nonprofit organizations do not have owners, private business have owners.  Nonprofits have founders. As a founder of a nonprofit you are not allowed to profit or benefit from the net earnings of the organization.  However, you can make money in various other ways including receiving compensation from the nonprofit.  It’s a good idea to make sure you clearly understand all of the rules and regulations pertaining to nonprofits and operations before starting out. Many sports clubs and leagues operate as non-profits.

Aside from the various documents you’ll need to fill out at the Federal, State, and Local level you’ll want to think though the type of people and number that you want on your board. Remember, your board members are volunteers and they need to be aware of and held accountable for their responsibilities. Each board member should fill a need or a role that will benefit the organization.  If the board is too small you’ll overwork your board, while a board that is too big doesn’t give everyone a chance to actively participate.  We all know that person we work with who doesn’t bring value to a project but takes credit.  Avoid that as much as possible. The goal of the board is to enhance the overall mission and operation of the organization. That means they need to get work done.

Each member should have a vested interest (not monetarily, or conflict of interest) in some manner, and be actively working to further the purpose of the organization.  A board that produces nothing is a waste of time, and time is running out to get your venture off the ground and growing.  You can’t afford that, so be very particular about the type of people you who will greatly influence all aspects of your organization. Look for people who have expertise that you need. They should have a passion for what you’re doing and be able to clearly articulate that passion to potential donors, etc. There should be clear job descriptions for each board member, and it should outline the requirements needed to remain a board member.

It’s fairly common practice to have term limits, and to stagger those term limits so new board members can benefit from their veteran counterparts.  To clarify, a board member plays a different role in the organization, and should be different from an employee.  The job of the board should be to ensure that the organization is properly managing its resources, and responsibilities, while actively helping to secure its financial well-being.  While a manager will focus on running the day to day operations of the organization, the board helps manage the bigger picture (goals, mission, etc.) of the organization and make sure it’s achieving those ends.

If you’re going this route take your time. Truly think through the process as much as possible and seek out advice and counsel. Whoever is on the board will have a huge impact on your organization for years to come. It’s possible that you have the resources available to you through your local government agencies to help you through the process of forming your nonprofit and board.  Don’t be afraid to ask the questions, and make sure you set your new organization up to focus on growth.

Steps to Start your Floorball Program

Many are learning about Floorball for the first time. It is natural that the learning curve for most will be steep. There is a lot to learn when learning a new sport, and it can be a bit daunting. For anyone looking to start a Floorball program I recommend following these steps to create a sustainable foundation.  The goal here is to develop a full-fledged sport and not a one-off adventure.

Step 1 – Learn the basics 

Floorball is like hockey in several ways while different in others. It is important that you learn those differences and stick to them. If you truly want to play Floorball as designed, you need to be teaching and playing the sport accordingly. At all costs you want to avoid playing a pseudo form of hockey. Stick checking, stick lifting, body checking must be avoided to maintain continuity. Take the time to read and gather as much information about the sport as you can. The goal is to develop a foundation of knowledge, so you are prepared to teach the sport accordingly.

If you’re looking for resources, you can find a few to help. The International Floorball Federation rule book is a good place to start. You can find it on their website at www.floorball.org. The rulebook will give you a detailed account of the rules of the game and will help ensure you know to carry out those rules. If you’re looking for a complete guide to the sport of Floorball including a curriculum, drills, tactics, and other information check out the Floorball Guru Primer at www.floorballbook.com. This book will give you everything you need to start a program and be successful.

Step 2 – Teach the game

Everyone has their own style and approach to teaching. I highly encourage anyone looking to start a program should teach the game. One of the best ways to do this is to run learn to play clinics, and instructional classes. The goal is to teach the game in a controlled setting that focused on skill development while teaching the basics of the sport. Like all developed sports you need instructional classes, development processes to build a following and a base which to grow. This is valuable because it helps build interest and engagement in the sport while laying a foundation for the next step.

Step 3 – Develop Leagues

Typically, people want to jump to step 3. For starters if you got into floorball you likely realize the value of the sport and want to play. The problem with jumping to this point is that you haven’t set a foundation which to build off. For many, going through step 2 is a tedious process, but one that it crucial to long term development of your leagues. When forming your league, you’ll want to first find space to host it. The size of your space will determine the type of league that you’re able to offer. You might also want to consider when starting out focusing on a smaller version such as 3v3 instead of jumping into 5v5. If you’ve been teaching and building a base you can use those participants to fuel your league. Now you should have a core group of players from ages 6-15 that can transition into a youth league. It is likely the parents of those kids have found an interest as well and may look to join the adult league. Now you have the true potential to have an established and growing Floorball program, not just a league, but a sustainable process.

Step 4 – Keep building

This entire process will take time. While we want to jump in to the fray and immediately build something of value it will take time. Things don’t happen overnight, and while you may believe the sport to be a wonderful thing it will take time to educate. We’re breaking habits and changing passions from other sports to Floorball. If you’re not willing to put in the work and play the long game your program will not succeed in the long run. Keep at it, keep learning, and keep pushing forward. Things will come in time.

Creating an NIT for Wold Floorball Championships

The International Floorball Federation is a worldwide organization working to develop the sport of Floorball around the world. They act as the governing body to the sport.  One very large component of the organization is the World Floorball Championship series. The WFC is split into Men, Women, U19 Men, and U19 Women tournaments. In conjunction with those tournaments they also work with countries to hose qualifying tournaments for the WFC.  This process has been an overall success when setting the stage for the WFC tournaments.

While this process works for setting up a tournament it does have some flaws, not in the operation of the tournament but in the lack of opportunity for developing countries to gain more experience. If you look at the overall history of the WFC you’ll likely see the same countries competing. That’s not a fault of those countries, but in places like Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland for instance, they are much more developed in the sport. When you look at developing countries they tend to only get together to compete a handful of times at most to prepare for the qualifiers. If you’re in North America for instance you have even less opportunity to compete because it’s still growing. If you miss out on qualifying for the WFC you’ll lose out on valuable experience playing at the WFC.

I think for the betterment of the sport this needs to change or evolve to give more countries a chance to compete, but also more experience. If you know NCAA basketball you should know about the March Madness Tournament. What you might not know is the other tournament happening at that time called the NIT.  If you didn’t qualify for March Madness, you can be invited to the NIT. While the NIT would currently be considered the lesser of the two it still plays a pivotal role college basketball from sponsorship, TV ratings, ad space, and overall competition. This does a few things and they are all important to the growth of the sport.

If Floorball had this process teams that didn’t qualify for the WFC would still have the chance to play in an international competition to gain experience and play countries they likely wouldn’t get a chance to play otherwise. This allows more connection between countries and players, but also helps shine a light on developing countries. What you would likely see are less blow outs and closer overall games. As a spectator close competitive games are fun to watch and build an excitement for the sport.

It takes a lot to put any event on, but even more so to do so on an international level. I think it’s a big task to do, but in the end I think the positives outweigh the negatives on this model. From a business model it opens the door for more opportunities to engage a broader audience for viewership and business engagement through ads and sponsorship. It’s certainly something that would bring a lot of value to sport as it grows and needs to figure out ways to engage countries left out of competing at the WFC.

Don’t be a finish liner

You might be wondering to yourself what is a finish liner? Seems like and odd statement to make. Just about everyone knows who these people are. Whether it’s working on a group project, planning and event, or starting something new there are people who help and people who help themselves.

Make no bones about it, to be successful you have to put in the work. Sweat equity is crucial, and while not always fun, without it nothing will get done. The problem is that there are often people around you that want in on the action without putting in the effort. They’re more focused on how they look along the way rather than get their hands dirty doing the work.

These people are happy to interject their own comments and thoughts into the process whether they’re warranted or reasonable. They typically provide nothing in return, but rather waste time in an effort for them to feel part of the process. A finish liner is someone who gives little to nothing but looks to take everything. This is done less to further and improve what’s happening, but more to either pad their ego, or advance their agenda at the expense of others. The trap people fall into when dealing with this type of person is that they don’t want to cause conflict even though conflict is already there. For many it can be an uncomfortable situation to deal with and they may not want to seem like they’re being too difficult to work with. The reality is that finish liners understand this and may play that to their advantage.

I’ve been developing programs and been at the grassroots of development for various things for many years. I’ve seen this in other jobs, and other projects. This shouldn’t be new to most people. I’m assuming as you read this a few names or memories are popping up from experiences you’ve had as well.

When I first saw Floorball I was hooked. I saw the potential and impact it could have in the world of sports. From that moment on I have been working to make that a reality. Along the way I’ve been fortunate to have worked with people who share that same idea, or a version of that idea. While the approaches may be different everyone has different goals, outcome, and methods to reach those. At the very least I respect those who are actively putting in the sweat equity. I have no core issue with them, what I have an issue with are finish liners. I’ve heard it time and again through various channels about how Floorball should and needs to grow. While many people are happy to interject their ideas the percentage of people who act or even try is staggeringly low. For some, if they try they’re quick to give excuses when things aren’t working, and eventually give up. Sure enough they’re happy to keep interjecting opinions without action.

I’m not alone in this quest. There are many people out there doing the work, and putting in the sweat equity. Some are friends and some are competitors. Regardless, I can appreciate what they’re trying to do because they’re actually out there doing. We need more people to get their hands dirty and get the work done. More can be done if we focus less on what we get and focus more on the overall outcome. Be a doer, don’t be a finish liner.

Meeting Challenges in Floorball

Floorball is advancing around the world. As more people become aware of it, more begin to see it as having value. Where there are still challenges ahead for the sport, I believe it’s currently headed in the right direction. However, in order for it to take hold I’ve noticed some things that need to be addressed.

By all intents and purposes Floorball is a cost effective sport. Gyms are far cheaper and more readily available that ice, though depending on the time of year you’re going to have to fight with other established sports such as volleyball and basketball to find space. Not impossible, but it may be more challenging in the winter months than the spring and summer months. Something to think about. Individual sticks are relatively cheap, and starting at about $30 makes it one of the more affordable sports on the market. However, one of the key strategies to growth of the sport in the US specifically is getting it into schools.

Unfortunately schools physical education program budgets tend to be on the smaller side and at $30 a stick with an average class size of 36-40 that cost can be too much. This presents a problem especially when there are cheaper alternatives in the long established floor hockey program. While the two are similar they differ in type of equipment and rules, but that may matter little when a Floorball stick costs double that of a generic floor hockey stick. The skill sets are the same, and given state standards they movements are identical. Therein lies part of the problem.

If you’ve been promoting, playing, or teaching Floorball you know the impact it has on kids. There is no doubt about it. To become an accepted and taught sport specifically in schools we need to break down any barrier or reason not to participate. This is challenge for sure, and there aren’t easy answers to it. One way I’ve approached it is to do it myself. I teach classes in my local community, I run demos, leagues, camps, and engage the local public in the sport. I work to make connections within the school districts around me and open opportunities to engage kids in those schools. I work to find and pass along grant opportunities for teachers, and show them why they should invest in a Floorball program. The reality is that none of that is a magic bullet. It’s never going to be one thing that pushes this sport forward. It’s going to take a lot of work, energy and supporters to make it happen.

If you’re working to expand the sport you already know this. You might be frustrated by the reality of it. You may see the various benefits from personal to business that the sport holds. I implore you to keep pushing. Keep selling the sport, keep investing in why you’re involved in Floorball. There’s something happening in the sports world, and I believe Floorball will play a key role in the future.

Navigating Equipment Choices

You’ve hopefully found out about Floorball through some form or another.  Hopefully you were able to get some hands on experience through a demo or some other form.  If not, it’s likely that you’re intrigued by the sport and want to know a bit more.  Doing a brief internet search you’ve likely come across a variety of companies selling Floorball equipment and you might be wondering what the differences are between sticks. Similar to other sporting equipment out there, Floorball equipment varies in quality, performance, and construction.  It’s hard to know what the right choice is for you, and even harder to make a choice if you’ve never actually held the stick in the first place. 

I’ve been in your same situation and I’ve been fortunate enough to try many sticks. As part of my platform I write unbiased equipment reviews on my site because I want to help people make educated decisions about their equipment.   If I think something is garbage I’ll make sure to state that, because I don’t want others to be frustrated with it.  It’s really frustrating shelling out money to only be disappointed with what you get, especially if you’re unable to get your hands on it first.

The Floorball Stick

Floorball sticks are comprised of fiberglass, carbon, or a mixture.  The characteristics of a Floorball stick will vary depending on their construction, but a lot of your final decision will depend on your playing style.  Increasingly, Floorball companies are developing and marketing equipment to meet your playing styles.  If you’re lucky enough to have a shop near you, or an opportunity to try multiple sticks I encourage you to do so.  Some things you’ll want to pay attention to is the flex of the shaft, and how the blade feels.  This can take a bit of time to recognize, but once you do you can start to more effectively hone in on the characteristics you’re looking for in your stick.

When I’m looking at a stick I’m looking for something that will complement my playing style, and give me the performance I need.  I’ve played with $40 sticks that I feel perform better than $80-100 sticks, and vice versa, so don’t solely make a decision based on price.  One of the unique characteristics to Floorball sticks is that they’re lightweight, but keep their shape during flex and allow you to increase performance.  When I grab a stick I’m evaluating its weight but that’s not my main priority.  I’m more interested in how the stick feels. I note the flex of the stick first and foremost.  Floorball flex is usually in the name of the stick and marked on the shaft as well. 

Stick Flex

For younger players and most beginners the ideal flex would be a 32-35. The purpose of flex is to create energy through the shaft of the stick that when released propels the ball forward quickly.  It’s not solely about strength, but finding a balance in the flex of the stick and the player.  For most this means that you’ll still be able to create flex out of the shaft to create energy effectively.  If your flex number decreases (i.e. 30,29,27 etc.) it will require more force to flex the stick, which creates more energy.  One thing to note is that depending on your playing style a stick with a flex rating at 27 may not be the right fit for you, whereas, a flex of 29 might be the right balance. Until you get your hands on it, knowing the difference is a challenge.

Blades

The other piece to the puzzle is the blade.  Blades are being constructed with a variety of characteristic.  In many cases sticks are already paired with an appropriate blade, though you can easily change the blade to suit what you’re looking for.  Blades are typically marked based on how hard or soft they are.  You should be able to find this information marked on the blade.  A hard blade is good for shooting, though harder to control fast passes.  A soft blade is great for passing and control, but you lose power during shots.  The characteristics of the blade come down to how it feels, which you won’t know until you try it. 

Conclusion

I would recommend when you purchase a blade to go ahead and purchase a different blade to test out.  You can always switch back and forth to find a pairing that works for you.   The more you play, the more you experience the better understanding you’ll have on the equipment that works for you. For more information about equipment choices check out podcast and written reviews.