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.

What’s in the name Floorball?

What is Floorball? Wikipedia describes it as, “a type of floor hockey with five players and a goalkeeper in each team. Men and women play indoors with 96–115.5 cm-long (37.8–45.5 in) sticks and a 22–23 cm-circumference (8.7–9.1 in) plastic ball with holes. Matches are played in three twenty-minute periods.” Just basing it off of that description one would liken it to any number of similar sports. However, talk to someone about Floorball and you’ll likely get some blank stares. The fact is that many people don’t know it exists, but even within the sport it is known by a different name.

As the sport continues to push forward it is vital that it protects its brand/image along the way. Personally I think there is some confusion when people talk about the sport. Within the Floorball community there is a separation between consistencies in what to call the sport. Depending on where you live there are different words to describe the same sport (Unihockey, Innebandy, Salibandy). Even floor hockey, which has a long past of being played in North American schools adds to the confusion. I think all of this adds to a bit of confusion on the sport. Hockey is hockey, basketball is basketball, football is football (unless you’re in the North America where it’s called soccer, and there much debate and annoyance on that too).  I’ve had a variety of conversations about this topic, and what should the sport be called. I think by having the sport known by different names based on similar but different sports only adds to the confusion.

The names “salibandy” and “innebandy” are derived from bandy; they translate to “hall bandy” and “indoor bandy” respectively. Unihockey is derived from “universal hockey” since it is meant to be a special and simplified hockey form. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these names, but when one describes a sport it should be universally understood what you’re talking about. I think as a group the sport should be called Floorball universally. I’m not intending to go on a rant or tear anything down, but I think it’s something worth noting. When we all speak the same language it makes it easier to keep things consistent. It’s a small thing in reality, but I think in the long term it’s important.

I’m not the one who makes that decision and I’m thankful for that. There’s more people involved in the community to make those decisions, and in my opinion it’s already decided by the International Floorball Federation. Just my two cents.

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.