Simplify your Tryout Registration Process

open-tryouts

Youth sports tryouts can be a stressful time for club administrators as many things need to happen in a relatively short period of time. One piece of the tryout process is player registration. Take a few minutes to think about how players register for your tryout–paper? email? online? walk-up only?

Suffice it to say that if you’re not using online registration you should be. If you are using an online registration system, kudos to you as you’re a step ahead of many clubs. However, are there pain points in your current process? HTGSports has been doing tryout registrations for many years and has refined the process to make it as easy as possible for you to run a tryout.

Some benefits of using HTGSports for tryout registration

  1. Email notifications – anytime someone registers you’ll receive an email notification.
  2. Online viewing of registration data–you can easily view sorted lists of players. Players can be filtered by age group & gender.
  3. Offline viewing – all registration data can easily be exported to an Excel spreadsheet where you can slice and dice the data as you see fit. Some clubs will generate spreadsheets of age appropriate data and then send those out to the respective coaches.
  4. Tryout cards – our tryout cards are easily printed on big, readable card stock. Tryout cards can then be used at the check-in desk. They can also be distributed to the coaches running that age group tryout. Blank tryout cards can also be printed out and used for walk-up registrations.  Information for walk-up registrations can then be added to our system after the fact.  (Better yet, if you have wi-fi access at your tryout location, walk-up registrants can register at the event.)
    tryout-card
  5. Player photos can be uploaded as part of the registration process. If a photo is uploaded it will show up on the tryout card.
  6. Simplicity – our registration is extremely easy to use. The parent doesn’t need to create an account–just register their child (or children) in one step. How many times have you had parents have trouble remembering their login?
  7. Security – All data entered on our web pages is securely encrypted with SSL. Don’t be the club that puts up a web form and then expect parents to input player data via clear text entry.

Communication

Good communication is a key part of running a successful tryout. With HTGSports you can easily communicate with parents via email and push notifications to their mobile devices.

  1. Weather delays – if your tryouts are outdoors you may have weather issues. With our notification system parents can sign up for notifications and be alerted if a tryout has been delayed or cancelled. As a club administrator, you can easily send the notification from our mobile app from the fields.
  2. Tryout schedule changes – last minute changes happen all the time at tryouts. With HTGSports you can do a simple email blast to everyone or to a subset of users. You can also use our push notification system to notify parents of changes.mobile-message

Pricing

For free, open tryouts we charge a flat fee of $100 for the entire club which allows for unlimited players. We hope you’ll consider using HTGSports for your next tryout event.

 

The Power of Positivity

positivity-smallFun.  We all need a little bit of it in our lives.  We also need encouragement; you can build it into your practices.  Bringing encouragement and fun to practice helps yourself while helping your kids.

Consider this: 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.

Why share this on a post on positivity?  Because we as coaches make a difference!  Some kids may be dealing with an alcoholic father or mother , some form of abuse, or other hardships.  We just don’t know.  Sometimes it’s a coach that changes a kid’s personal attitude and outlook.  This has been true for many kids.

So how do we create positivity for our kids in our practices Here’s what sets the great coaches apart from the average.  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Enthusiasm makes a difference.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’

Chances are you have had a coach or a teacher who made a difference in your life.  You probably remember his upbeat attitude, hearty laugh, or huge smile.  Maybe the coach was downright goofy, but had a way to get you excited about the sport.

Where’s your smile?  Do you laugh often in practice?  And do you illustrate a positive, enthusiastic attitude?  Or would your kids say that you are too serious?  And by the way, when it seems the kids aren’t quite getting it, it’s important to take the long view of their development. When you do, it’s easier to keep that enthusiasm high.

2.  Play upbeat energetic music.
Why not?  Find out what they like and play it during drills to keep the energy high.  And this doesn’t mean playing your favorite 80’s music just because you think they need to appreciate ‘your’ music because it’s the best!

Here’s what Xavier Rico, 2015 US Youth Soccer Coach of the Year – Boys Competitive has to say on this: 

I play music. That’s coming from my background growing up — someone always played music. So, I always play music. Hispanic music or Latin music — anything that has rhythm. I feel like it helped me when I was a kid to not be stressed about the game or just for the rhythm. I feel like dancing is so close to what we do with the ball on the field, so I play music. 

Xavier won the award.  So maybe you should just play some salsa music!

3.  Fun Awards and Competitions
Find ways to add fun awards.  One coach who had never coached soccer took a cue from a lady coach who did what she called the “Bubblegum Award’’.   He instituted it as well with his recreational soccer team. Participation was key and every single girl won that award.  Each week, he would have a theme such as who hustled the most or who had the most progress in foot skills or passing.  The kids looked forward to that award and many of the parents commented on how much they enjoyed seeing the girls talk about that.

Of course, the Bubblegum Award might not be appreciated by 15 year old boys playing at an elite level.  Make your fun award or competition appropriate for your team.

Positivity changes our outlook and it helps us to deal with our own personal adversities.  Remember that kids are learning how to look at life and YOU are the one person who might help them deal with challenges, both on and off the field.  Keep it Positive!

Why Can’t He Get it?

 

child-613199_1280-smallIt’s fun to work with kids that pick up the skills almost naturally, isn’t it?  But what about the kids who don’t quite pick it up so easily?  How do we help them? Remember that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, so our job as coaches is to remember to be patient and work with each kid as an individual.

Sometimes it’s hard for kids to retain certain skills and techniques.  Every kid is different and it helps to consider that not every high level player started out ‘getting it.’  Here are a few things to remember when dealing with your players.

  1. Every kid is different. Some focus better than others and no doubt some of you have kids who have ADD or ADHD.  Is the child paying attention or is it hard to keep their attention?  Remember to keep practices moving so there is not an inordinate amount of time just standing around – particularly for those kids diagnosed.
  2. Motor skills are often not fully developed in each child at the same time. One child who isn’t getting it age 7 might be crushing it by the time they are 12.  Our advice here is to be patient.  You might even see if you can do some one-on-one work with him.  But above all, keep it fun
  3. Vary how you teach a skill.

Every kid is different
First, the ability to focus varies in each child.  As mentioned in prior posts, it’s important to keep the practice moving – for ALL kids.  But for kids with ADD or ADHD, this is critical.  If you see a child having a hard time paying attention it may be because they have difficulty focusing.  Find out how best to help them.  Often parents notice this and may be able to help you with this.

Sometimes if you have to talk (and it’s important not to do too much of this) you can pull that child out to help demonstrate. Don’t do it to embarrass them, but to engage them.

Motor skills are often not fully developed in all kids at the same time
Amanda Morin wrote a great post about How Kids Develop Thinking and Learning Skills (http://u.org/1OVtzgc).  Her major point is that kids do develop differently.  She iterates that there are different instructional strategies that can make a difference in teaching kids to learn a skill.

A couple of points to help in this are:

  1. Make sure and REVIEW skills from prior sessions. Remember that repetition is the mother of learning.
  2. Present new skills in small steps. Great teachers break things down and make them simple.

Again, patience is a key here.

Vary how you teach a skill
Different people learn differently.  Some are kinesthetic learners and learn by doing.  There are visual learners. These kids can watch it and get it.   And then there are the kids who are more auditory learners who might hear things and understand it better.

One point on this last issue is to consider saying things in different ways to help the child understand things better.  A dance instructor once explained that she will vary things by explaining how to dance on rhythm in several ways.  For example, she will count it out and say “and 1-2-3…”   However, she will also say it this way, “and quick, quick, slow…”  We need to consider our language skills to help kids get it. And that coaches, is on us to make our communication that much better.

So, maybe the question isn’t ‘why can’t my kid get it?’ but ‘how can improve my skill in communicating so each child gets it?’

A Sneak Peek at the next version of iSports for iOS

As the next update for iSports for iOS is nearing completion we wanted to give you a quick look at what is coming. This version has been beta tested by a number of clubs over the last few months.

This release of iSports includes administrative features to make running your event even easier.

From the mobile app you can now login and
a) view your event information including registrations and games
b) input game scores
c) send broadcast messages (push notifications and emails)

LoginLogin Screen

Inputting Scores

For multiple venue events inputting scores can be tedious particularly if your venues don’t all have Internet access .  With the iSports mobile app you can now navigate to a game from your phone/table and from the game detail screen input your scores.  Saving the game will trigger push notifications just like in the web application.  Note: this feature also works for any users with the “Scorers” role.

Enter Scores

 Broadcast Messages

How often have you been at the fields and needed to send out a notice to all of the teams at your event?  In the past you’d need to login to our web application.  Now, with a few taps in iSports you can easily send your message out from your phone:

Send Push/Email Alerts

Searching for Games

Besides the administrative features, we’ve also added a new feature for end users–you can now search for games via date, time, and field.

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Search results

iSports will be available in the Apple App Store soon.  In the meantime if you’re an HTGSports league owner/tournament director and would like access to the beta please contact us.

Thanks!

Online Check-In

HTGSports offers online team check-in for events. This convenient feature saves time for teams participating in the event and for event staff.  Before online check-in was available, team managers/coaches would be required to arrive at the event early to check in their teams. Now coaches or team managers can check in their teams without unnecessary inconveniences.

Instead of spending hours checking paperwork for teams in person, event staff can now review paperwork online at their convenience.  By offering online check-in it also cuts down on event staff needed at the onsite tournament check-in.

How does online check-in work?

  • Teams check-in electronically by securely uploading forms such as team rosters, medical waivers and player cards.
  • The event staff will then review and approve the forms.  If something is incomplete the staff can reject a document or request more information from the team manager.

To use the feature, event admin must enable online check-in at their event. By filling out the ‘online check-in’ tab when you create an event portal you can enable online check-in and tailor it to your event.

Teams pay a small fee to use online check-in. An added benefit for the event director is that he or she receives a rebate equal to the team fee for each team that uses online check-in,

Online check-in is an optional feature that may not be offered at every HTGSports event. Ask the director of your event about online check-in today!

Website Makeover

HTGSports is proud to present our updated website! Hopefully you find the new format is easier to use and read.  It also should work much better on your mobile devices.

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For those of you with logins,  please note that the “LOGIN” button is now labelled “Sign In”.  Clicking “Sign In” now pops up a window.

Once you get logged in, the “Sign In” button changes to your name.  Access to other features associated with your login is via this button.

2015-01-12_20-20-48We hope you like the makeover.  Stay tuned for more updates in the future as we get to other areas of the website to make it easier to use on all of your devices!

 

Want to Advance out of Pool Play? Win your Opener

We are in soccer tournament season, and with the World Cup approaching and the United States firmly seated in this year’s Group of Death for pool play, I found myself thinking about their odds of advancement. For that matter, what are any given team’s odds of advancement out of pool play if they don’t win their first game? Let’s get some facts and data behind that question with data from HTGSports.

Anyone who has been around youth soccer tournaments knows that there are a few possible group formats based on the number of teams who apply and are accepted. It doesn’t often end up that the format has a perfect eight teams: two pools of four teams, three pool games, a semi-final and final. In fact that’s a rarity. Sometimes there are six teams, or four, even 10 or 12. One thing that they all have in common is an important first game. From the vast data in HTGSports’ coffers here are some of the odds:

  • Of those who advanced out of pool 71% won their first game, 20% tied and 8% lost.
  • Of the winners of tournaments of any format, 74.5% won their opening game, 14.1% tied and 9.1% lost.
  • 79% of girls champions won their first game while only 71% of boys won their first game.  However, 12% of boys champions lost their first game while only 4% of girls champions lost their first game of pool play.

The graph below compares the results of game one between teams that advanced out of the group and teams that won the tournament.

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The second graph shows the results of game one of pool play for the eventual tournament champions.

pie graph 2

So as the US goes up against Ghana in the opener on June 16 and the odds of advancing out of group or winning the tournament are firmly against us, one thing is clear. Want better odds? Treat that first game as if it is a final.

Using iSports Venue Details and Games by Field Feature

We’ve recently added the ability to view games by fields. This feature can be particularly helpful if:

  • you are walking by a game and  just want to know what 2 teams are playing on a particular field
  • you are a field marshal or a tournament director; you need the ability to quickly see what two teams are playing or scheduled to play for various reasons

To access this feature from the mobile app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/isports-2/id490130279?mt=8) first locate the event and click on it. From the main event page then tap on the “Venues” button on the bottom.

venues

Click on the red marker to display the info window of the venue you are wanting details on.  Then click on the info window. Note: if you click on the “i” you will be taken directly to driving directions.

info

On the iPad clicking on the info window selects the venue in the venue list in the sidebar. From the sidebar you can click on “Details”.

info-p

From the venue details window you will then see information about the venue and a list of fields. Click on the field of interest.venue-detail

On the iPhone you will be taken to the results window.

results

On the iPad the results are shown on the right side of the venue detail window.

venue-dtail-ipad

On the results list you will then see a list of games for the field of interest.  Find the appropriate game time and click on the game to display the game detail page.

game-detail

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The game detail page contains a lot of information.  Included is the game date, time, team names, coach, location, primary colors, scores, field, and division.  From this page you can optionally add it to your calendar or share the information via text.

How to Sign-up for Push Notifications for HTGSports Events

iSports 2 for iOS and Android includes a push notifications feature for  score updates and general category updates. This feature is both simple to use and extremely useful. General categories are typically for weather notifications; these will keep you updated immediately if games are cancelled or delayed, and the score updates alert will let you know the game score of a particular team.

This is a simple way to immediately find out the scores of games you are unable to attend, or simply keep tabs on other teams you are interested in.  Push notifications are often more reliable than text alerts since text alerts may be be throttled by your cell phone carrier and not delivered.

How to for Android:

Open the iSports 2 application on your Android phone.

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Under the tournament tab there will be a list of tournaments happening this month.

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For this example, I clicked on the 2013 Challenger Season Finale & Showcase, which was the first event on the list.

Screenshot_2014-01-05-22-14-37

Swipe left where the red arrow is pointing until you see a tab named “Notifications”.

screenshot snagit bean

In the picture below you can see it on the upper right hand side. Click on the Notifications tab.

notifications arrow

If I want to receive push notifications about General Info/Weather Updates, I simply touch the check mark to the right of the General/Weather option. If you want to receive scores from a certain team, look at the different divisions listed.

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I have selected the U13 Girls age group.  After clicking this you will see a list of all the teams in that age group.

Screenshot_2014-01-05-22-15-22

If I want to receive score updates for Sporting BV Inter Milan, I simply touch the check mark to the right of their name.

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After this,  touch the “Done” button on the upper right corner. You are now finished!

How to for iPhone:

Open the iSports 2 application on your iPhone.

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Under the tournament tab there will be a list of tournaments happening this month.

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For this example, I clicked on the 2013 Challenger Season Finale & Showcase, which was the first event on the list.

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Swipe left at the bottom next to the “Info” tab is until you see a tab named “Notifications”. In the picture you will find it in the lower right corner. Click on the “Notifications” tab.

IMG_2456 

If I want to receive push notifications about General Info/Weather Updates, I simply touch the check mark to the right of the General/Weather option. If you want to receive scores from a certain team, look at the different divisions listed.

IMG_2458

I have selected the U13 Girls age group. After clicking this you will see a list of all the teams in that age group.

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If I want to receive score updates for Sporting BV Inter Milan, I simply touch the check mark to the right of their name.

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After this,  touch the “Done” button on the upper right corner. You are now finished!

For more information or download links go to https://htgsports.net/mobile.aspx

 

iSports 2.5 For Android

Today we released a significant update to iSports for Android.  Version 2.5 includes these new features

  • view player events (e.g. camps, academies); the event listing is split into 3 tabs (tournaments, leagues and players)
  • receive push notifications for weather/general categories as well as score updates (for team based events)
  • event details includes an information tab where you will be able to view the same content as shown on the main page of the event portal

iSports 2.5 requires Android 4.0 or higher.  If you already have the 2.1 version of the app installedit should auto update.  You can also find the app in the Google Play store by searching for isports or use the following link:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=HTGSports.iSports

Event Listing View

The revamped event listing view now shows a tab view with each tab containing events for tournaments, leagues, and player events.  There is a date picker in the top right of the action bar which allows you to change the month of events you are viewing.

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Event Information

After tapping on an event you are taken to the main event view.  For tournaments or leagues you will see 5 tabs; for player events you will see 3 tabs (Info, Alerts, Venues)

2-info 3-notify 4-venues

Brackets, Schedules, and Standings

To view scores, brackets, and schedules click on the “Scores” tab to view divisions.  Tap on the division of interest to be taken the scores  portal.

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6-brackets results standings