I’ve been the team manager for both my girls’ club soccer teams and have learned some tricks and tips from many other managers. I really enjoy being the manager, (most of the time!) but when you are first starting out it can be a little overwhelming. These are all common sense recommendations, but I thought I’d gather them together in one place…
- Create a Team Site to keep all your information in one place. I’m a big fan of Team Snap which has free and paid options to keep all roster, schedule and stats information in one place as well as space for pictures and more. It also has a great iPhone app which allows me to access and change information on the go. You can also sync your gmail or iCal with Team Snap to have all the schedule information show up on your calendar. I wrote more about Team Snap here although they continue to make more updates for even better functionality. I have also used Shutterfly Team Sites in the past.
- Send a Weekly Schedule Email on Monday to keep everyone in the loop. Yes everyone should know what’s going on, but the reality is that we are all busy and an email each Monday really helps. I include a practice schedule for the week, games for the weekend and then a list of upcoming dates. This might sound like a pain, but it eliminates many unnecessary phone calls, emails and texts from confused parents. Keep it short and use bullet points!
- Send a Weekend Schedule Email on Friday with game(s) information. This email is for myself as much as anyone else! I include a schedule of game(s) with addresses/directions and times as well as lunch or get together plans if applicable. On a busy weekend when we’re going in many different directions, it’s helpful to have one email with all the info. Again…bullet points are key.
- Show Up to Practices/Games and Team Events. If you are going to take on being the manager, it’s important that you are accessible and available to chat or answer questions. Of course you won’t be able to attend everything, but if you regularly send your child with a friend or babysitter to practices and games, being the manager probably isn’t the job for you.
- Touch base with your Coach on a regular basis. I try to just say hi at the beginning or end of practice at least once a week to see if anything is needed or to have any questions answered.
- Team Rosters- All club players are carded through a state or national organization which serves as the umbrella over many different leagues. This is your team’s official roster and should be easily accessible by logging into the website. (For example, our organization is Cal South) As the manager, you should have access to checking all of the player information.
- Got Soccer- Got Soccer is a website that serves several purposes (information, rankings etc…) and is also used for many tournament applications. You can create a universal log in here for both your teams and your kids individual profiles. If you are coming in as a manager of an existing team, make sure you get your team’s log-in information from the previous manager. Do not create a new team profile- you want to keep going with the existing one.
- Tournament Applications- Talk to your coach about what tournaments are appropriate for your team. Some clubs leave tournament selection up to the coach and others are guided by the Director of Coaching. When completing a tournament application pay particular attention to payment deadlines, play level and roster freeze dates.
- Team Bonding- Team events make for a stronger team and fun for all. I advise you have someone else help you with this, but some fun event ideas are… lunch, dinner, swim party, bowling, beach, movie nights and holiday parties. Don’t forget to have some fun things for parents too.
Be prepared and bring the things that you need to games and tournaments. I have a team bag (it’s just a small messenger bag- very manly so that my hubby won’t mind carrying it!) that contains the following…
- Team Notebook- Don’t forget the player cards! Everyone has their preferences when it comes to creating a team notebook, but I do mine in a specific way so that I don’t have nightmares about forgetting player cards. I use a notebook with a zipper to keep everything contained. Inside the notebook I have a small zippered pouch with two sections- one holds the precious player cards, and the other holds black and white electrical tape (for changing uniform numbers), scissors, pens, some bandaids and a sharpie. Plastic sheet protectors for each player hold their medical releases and a copy of their birth certificates. A team roster is also in a plastic sheet protector. I stick in a pocket to hold current game rosters etc… I always put everything back in the same place every time so I that I can find it. (I still usually pull over en route to any game to check if I have the player cards)
- Supplies- I always carry an extra set of jerseys in case someone forgets or gets blood on their jersey, both black and white tape to alter jersey numbers, scissors, pens and bandaids. I usually have ice and my own first aid kit with supplies as well.
- Club Administrator- Usually your club admin is the person with all the answers! Hopefully they are kind and helpful and can help you with the information that you need. (Fortunately mine is awesome!)
- Experienced Mangers- Get to know an experienced manager from your club and ask them for information and tips.
- The Internet is your friend- Make sure you have all the weblinks to your club, league and state/national organization. Teach your team where to find important on-line information as well. (What did teams do before the internet??) For example, I can log into Cal South and see all my roster information and double check that everything is correct and current. You can also be on the lookout for tournaments or opportunities for your team.
- You are not the coach- Refer all questions about players, strategy, play time, etc… to the coach!! Don’t try and get in the middle- just advise that person to speak directly with the coach and not endlessly discuss their complaints on the sideline. In return your coach should handle parent complaints and respect your position by handling the business of coaching. Remember- your coach gets paid and you most likely don’t! Direct communication is key.
- Don’t Gossip- Most likely as the manager you will be privy to confidential information about the team. Make sure to be trustworthy and keep that information to yourself. Avoid gossip- especially getting pulled into any negative conversations about the team or other players and parents. Direct those people to speak directly with the coach. This can be really difficult and there can sometimes be some tension straddling the role of manager and parent, but the less you engage the better!
- The league administrator probably doesn’t want to hear from you- Communicate through the proper channels and ask your Club Administrator before going directly to any league administrator. There are so many clubs and teams that hearing directly from managers is overwhelming. Ask your club admin for help with league matters or even if you need help with a tournament application.
Delegating responsibilities will make your life easier as well as making everyone on the team feel included. Here are some of the things that you can delegate… (By the way, this section is do as I say, not necessarily as I have done- ha-ha!)
- Split the manager duties- Have one person take care of the communication, registration and organization and another person take care of the player cards, paperwork and game/tournament check in. This is something new for me that I really enjoy- especially if you like the person your are partnering with.
- Treasurer- A treasurer is invaluable in running a team. Collecting money, writing tournament checks and more are so important! Personally, the only thing I’m good at with money is spending it, so it’s essential to have someone who is financially minded take care of our team finances. It’s also important that you keep your finances above reproach and having two people working with the team finances is helpful. Make sure your team budget is available for parents to see where the funds are going.
- Party Planner- Team bonding is essential (and fun!) for your team and families. Having someone take on this task makes the year more fun for everyone. Encourage team parties, lunches and more!
- Travel Planner- Hopefully someone on your team is an avid traveller with insights into the exotic locales of Lancaster, San Bernardino and beyond. Booking tournament hotels can be stressful as you are trying to please everyone. Another manager suggested having a sheet with everyone’s credit card numbers and room preferences so that the travel planner could easily book hotels for all. I’m not sure how everyone would feel about that, but it could be a great time saver.
- Equipment Manager- Someone needs to be in charge of the team bench and EZ up! A manly man with a big car who attends all the games is a good prospect for this job.
- First Aid- Assigning someone to bring ice to each game would be wonderful. I usually bring a first aid kit, but it’s not always easy to bring ice.
Anyone else have other suggestions??