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.