Author: Craig Allen

7 Great Reasons Why All Sports Organizations Need a Website in 2020

7 Great Reasons Why All Sports Organizations Need a Website in 2020

No matter what type of sports team or organization you run, there is no denying that your sports team would benefit from a website. Given how much we use the Internet on a daily basis, if your sports organization doesn’t have a website, it’s like it doesn’t exist at all.

While it’s true that a website is an investment, it’s also true that your website can become your best team member. And in this post, we’ll share 7 reasons why we think all sports organizations need a website in 2020.

If you’re serious about growing your sports organization, then getting a website done should be your first step. Here are 7 reasons why you need a website for your sports team or organization.

1. A Website Makes You More Discoverable

When someone searches for a sports organization or a team in your area, are you one of the results? With a website, your organization can easily show up as a relevant result in the search engine result pages.

When your organization or team is more discoverable a whole new world of possibilities opens up, which brings us to our next point.

2. A Website Opens Up New Possibilities

The most important benefit is that anyone can easily look up your organization and find you online. However, a website brings other possibilities for your team which include:

  • The ability to attract new fans, followers, and patrons
  • The ability to make extra money for your team
  • The ability to promote and market your sports organization more efficiently
  • The ability to get better press coverage as members of the press can easily find you online and get details about your organization or sports team
  • And the ability to simplify the recruiting process

3. You Can Save on Your Marketing Budget

Think for a moment about the marketing efforts you’re currently putting out to promote your sports organization or a team. Then, think about how much each of those marketing campaigns is costing you and the return on investment you’re getting.

A website can help you save on your marketing budget simply because it has the potential to attract more organic traffic from the search engines. Visitors who search for a sports term related to your organization can easily land on your site because it shows up as a relevant result.

4. A Website Makes It Easy to Recruit New Members

Your website can facilitate the process of recruiting new members. Instead of requiring potential members to come to your venue and manually screening them, you can have them fill out an online application and hold interviews and tryouts for the selected applicants.

5. You Can Make Extra Money for Your Team

Making money from membership dues is all well and good, but sooner or later you will find yourself in need of more funds. As mentioned earlier, you can easily earn extra income simply by having a website.

For example, thanks to easy to use platforms like NEXT PLAY and their developers, you can create an online store and sell team merchandise. Another way to make extra money for your team includes the ability to accept donations on your website and you can even sell sponsorship packages.

6. A Website Helps You Build Credibility

Sports fans, like other Internet users, are always searching for interesting sports news and information. When you have a website that’s regularly updated, you instantly become more credible as a source of reliable sports news.

Sports fans and your followers will be more inclined to come back to your website for more news and engage with your organization at the same time, if you have a website than if you merely post on Facebook or Twitter.

7. You’re In Control Over Your Online Presence

Finally, a website allows you to be in full control over your online presence. You control what you post, what your visitors see, and how often you post. There is no third-party algorithm that might make your posts invisible for a majority of your followers and fans like there is on social media platforms.

Not to mention, social media platforms can become irrelevant practically overnight (remember MySpace?) which means your social media presence and profile on that platform can simply disappear.

A website for your sports organization will bring you many benefits, from making your organization more discoverable to helping you market your organization round the clock.

Confessions of a Youth Sports Parent

Being a sports parent is tough, there is no doubt about it. It truly is one of the most difficult things I have ever gone through. But before I go on with my post, I feel a little background on myself needs to be addressed. I was a teacher and coach for ten years, and those were some great and terrible years, but I learned so much about being a coach, working with athletes, and while I wasn’t a parent at the time, I learned a great deal about parents.

When I first started coaching, my mentor shared this wonderful quote with me that described the difficulties of sports and coaching, and it has stuck with me ever since. The quote goes as follows…

“A man should never coach without having been a father first, and a man should never be a father without having coached first.”

Seems simple doesn’t it?

My first few years as a coach were a major learning curve, as well as, a trial-by-fire. I wish I could say I was proud of everything I did as a coach, but I am not, but that does not go without saying that there are a ton of things I am proud of from being a coach. Winning championships, beating rivals, developing players, seeing players play at the next level and coaching accolades are all great accomplishments. However, most of the things I am proud of were things I learned along the way and implemented myself over the years as a coach and a parent. Here are a few things:

  • Communication between coach, player and parent is paramount. Whether it is a friendly talk before practice, or that tough conversation over playing time, communication must happen.
  • Coaches must include parents, especially at a young age, whether they like it or not. Coaches cannot and should not ever be too busy for a parent.
  • For the most part, players have no idea what their parents are doing or saying, so never hold it against the player.
  • Parents are crazy! They have crazy ideas, crazy expectations, but most importantly, they are crazy about their player. This may be a tough concept for young coaches to understand, but after coaching and now being a parent, there is nothing I have ever been prouder of or more passionate about than my kids.

So, where am I going with this? Well, my kids are both hitting that age where they are getting involved in various activities and sports, and this world is crazy! Kids are intense, coaches are intense, parents are… INTENSE, and to top it all off, this stuff is crazy expensive. For many families, youth sports is a financial sacrifice, so to think the intensity and expectations are going to be “normal” seems to be a little “un-normal”.

As a parent, I look on the field, court or tumbling mats and see my kids. I see them first over anyone else out there. I am proud of them and I love watching them play and perform, and I am 99.9% sure that all parents feel the same. But, I also feel I can be realistic of my kids’ talents and keep realistic expectations.

However, and I stress however, there are moments where you see your child do something that a majority of their peers or teammates cannot, and things can get away from you in a hurry, extremely fast. This has happened to me, I’ve seen it happen to other parents and I can guarantee it will continue happening when my children have children. So, once again, where am I going with all this? Well, after a few seasons of youth sports and ten-plus years of coaching, I wanted to make note of some of the things I have done or witnessed to maybe help the next guy on their journey.

So please, agree, disagree or start your own list from mine, but I hope some of my tips can help:

  • Coaches, for the most part (we’ve all seen and heard stories), are great people with great intensions. They are competitive, they want to win, they want their and your athletes to perform well and they care about their players.
  • You are going to meet some great people along the way in youth sports, and you are also going to meet some crazy ones. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and remind yourself why you signed your child up for their sport.
  • DRAMA! There will be drama. It can come from coaches, parents and even your player, but know, there will be drama.
  • Don’t compete! Don’t compete with other parents, don’t compete financially, don’t compete with other players, DON’T COMPETE. This can turn in to a nasty battle that doesn’t end well for anyone.
  • Enjoy new friends, enjoy their athletes and enjoy the relationships your child will develop. Celebrate everyone’s successes, and most importantly, celebrate the team’s successes.
  • Trust the coach’s intentions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or express concerns to get a better understanding. I highly suggest doing this at the end of the season, not during.
  • Your player may have a “gift”, but it is your player’s “gift”. Sit back, ask them what they want to do and let them do it. If they want to “specialize” in one sport, let them. If they want to play multiple sports, let them. There is no harm in being active in multiple sports or just one sport as long as they are active and enjoying it. If your player wants to play more or train more, let them. If your player wants to take a break, let them.
  • Not everyone is going to believe in the same things as you. Some will believe in more games, some will believe in more training and some will believe in doing nothing extra and guess what? Everyone is correct.

In the end, remember, there are going to ups and downs, challenges, successes and celebrations in youth sports and you; the coach, the parent and the athlete can choose how you handle all of these situations.

Make the Most of YOUR Opportunity

This time of year always gets me excited. It is the start of the high school sports season, as well as, the start of my kids’ favorite sports seasons. As a former coach, and an avid sports fan, I always enjoy seeing athletes get a fresh start on a new season; and to see what players took advantage of the offseason to make themselves a better player and teammate; and who remained stagnant or satisfied with their current situation.

However, it is also this time of year that brings a lot drama and tension to teams, as well as, parent and coach relationships. I came across the quote below on twitter, and it really got me thinking about my actions as a parent, my expectations for my kids and my relationship with their coaches. The quote goes:

“This time of year athletes, as well as parents, get wrapped up about who is on JV and who is on Varsity. Control what you can control. Take advantage of any opportunity you are given, not the ones you’re not.”

I’ll admit it, I’ve gotten wrapped up in the drama and competitiveness, but I’ve also learned from my mistakes. Also, I  have reflected on things I could have done different and ways my kids could have handled their situations differently. But, to be honest, is there really ever a situation until the parent gets involved? Sorry, I regress, but my point is; not every athlete is going to be given the same opportunity or treated the same.

Nevertheless, every athlete and parent can do their best to make the most of every opportunity given to them, whether it is in practice or games. Stop worrying about what other players get to do, who they get to train with or what team they play for. Instead, focus on the extra playing time your athlete may get with another team or even the opportunity to train with a different group of athletes; sometimes new scenery is a good thing.

In the end, the Fall sports season is an exciting time. It’s a new school year, new teachers, new classmates and a completely new season for athletes. The sports season will come with its ups and downs, and there will be times when your athlete may get frustrated and may even want to quit; but look for the positive moments in the season and remind them to take advantage of everyone of their opportunities.

Toughness by Jay Bilas

I have heard the word “toughness” thrown around a lot lately. Reporters on television, radio and in print have opined about a team or player’s “toughness” or quoted a coach talking about his team having to be “tougher” to win.

Then, in almost coordinated fashion, I would watch games and see player upon player thumping his chest after a routine play, angrily taunting an opponent after a blocked shot, getting into a shouting match with an opposing player, or squaring up nose-to-nose as if a fight might ensue. I see players jawing at each other, trying to “intimidate” other players. What a waste of time. That is nothing more than fake toughness, and it has no real value.

I often wonder: Do people really understand what coaches and experienced players mean when they emphasize “toughness” in basketball? Or is it just some buzzword that is thrown around haphazardly without clear definition or understanding? I thought it was the latter, and I wrote a short blog item about it a couple of weeks ago.

The response I received was overwhelming. Dozens of college basketball coaches called to tell me that they had put the article up in the locker room, put it in each player’s locker, or had gone over it in detail with their teams.

Memphis coach John Calipari called to say that he had his players post the definition of toughness over their beds because he believed that true “toughness” was the one thing that his team needed to develop to reach its potential. I received messages from high school coaches who wanted to relay the definition of toughness to their players and wanted to talk about it further.

Well, I got the message that I should expound upon what I consider toughness to be. It may not be what you think.

Toughness is something I had to learn the hard way, and something I had no real idea of until I played college basketball. When I played my first game in college, I thought that toughness was physical and based on how much punishment I could dish out and how much I could take. I thought I was tough.

I found out pretty quickly that I wasn’t, but I toughened up over time, and I got a pretty good understanding of toughness through playing in the ACC, for USA Basketball, in NBA training camps, and as a professional basketball player in Europe. I left my playing career a heck of a lot tougher than I started it, and my only regret is that I didn’t truly “get it” much earlier in my playing career.

When I faced a tough opponent, I wasn’t worried that I would get hit — I was concerned that I would get sealed on ball reversal by a tough post man, or that I would get boxed out on every play, or that my assignment would sprint the floor on every possession and get something easy on me. The toughest guys I had to guard were the ones who made it tough on me.

Toughness has nothing to do with size, physical strength or athleticism. Some players may be born tough, but I believe that toughness is a skill, and it is a skill that can be developed and improved. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo always says, “Players play, but tough players win.” He is right.

Here are some of the ways true toughness is exhibited in basketball:

Set a good screen: The toughest players to guard are the players who set good screens. When you set a good screen, you are improving the chances for a teammate to get open, and you are greatly improving your chances of getting open. A good screen can force the defense to make a mistake. A lazy or bad screen is a waste of everyone’s time and energy. To be a tough player, you need to be a “screener/scorer,” a player who screens hard and immediately looks for an opportunity on offense. On the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, Bob Knight made Michael Jordan set a screen before he could get a shot. If it is good enough for Jordan, arguably the toughest player ever, it is good enough for you.

Set up your cut: The toughest players make hard cuts, and set up their cuts. Basketball is about deception. Take your defender one way, and then plant the foot opposite of the direction you want to go and cut hard. A hard cut may get you a basket, but it may also get a teammate a basket. If you do not make a hard cut, you will not get anyone open. Setting up your cut, making the proper read of the defense, and making a hard cut require alertness, good conditioning and good concentration. Davidson’s Stephen Curry is hardly a physical muscle-man, but he is a tough player because he is in constant motion, he changes speeds, he sets up his cuts, and he cuts hard. Curry is hard to guard, and he is a tough player.

Talk on defense: The toughest players talk on defense, and communicate with their teammates. It is almost impossible to talk on defense and not be in a stance, down and ready, with a vision of man and ball. If you talk, you let your teammates know you are there, and make them and yourself better defenders. It also lets your opponent know that you are fully engaged.

Jump to the ball: When on defense, the tough defenders move as the ball moves. The toughest players move on the flight of the ball, not when it gets to its destination. And the toughest players jump to the ball and take away the ball side of the cut. Tough players don’t let cutters cut across their face — they make the cutter change his path.

Don’t get screened: No coach can give a player the proper footwork to get through every screen. Tough players have a sense of urgency not to get screened and to get through screens so that the cutter cannot catch the ball where he wants to. A tough player makes the catch difficult.

Get your hands up: A pass discouraged is just as good as a pass denied. Tough players play with their hands up to take away vision, get deflections and to discourage a pass in order to allow a teammate to cover up. Cutters and post players will get open, if only for a count. If your hands are up, you can keep the passer from seeing a momentary opening.

Play the ball, see your man: Most defenders see the ball and hug their man, because they are afraid to get beat. A tough defender plays the ball and sees his man. There is a difference.

Get on the floor: In my first road game as a freshman, there was a loose ball that I thought I could pick up and take the other way for an easy one. While I was bending over at the waist, one of my opponents dived on the floor and got possession of the ball. My coach was livid. We lost possession of the ball because I wasn’t tough enough to get on the floor for it. I tried like hell never to get out-toughed like that again. The first player to get to the floor is usually the one to come up with any loose ball.

Close out under control: It is too easy to fly at a shooter and think you are a tough defender. A tough defender closes out under control, takes away a straight line drive and takes away the shot. A tough player has a sense of urgency but has the discipline to do it the right way.

Post your man, not a spot: Most post players just blindly run to the low block and get into a shoving match for a spot on the floor. The toughest post players are posting their defensive man. A tough post player is always open, and working to get the ball to the proper angle to get a post feed. Tough post players seal on ball reversal and call for the ball, and they continue to post strong even if their teammates miss them.

Run the floor: Tough players sprint the floor, which drags the defense and opens up things for others. Tough players run hard and get “easy” baskets, even though there is nothing easy about them. Easy baskets are hard to get. Tough players don’t take tough shots — they work hard to make them easy.

Play so hard, your coach has to take you out: I was a really hard worker in high school and college. But I worked and trained exceptionally hard to make playing easier. I was wrong. I once read that Bob Knight had criticized a player of his by saying, “You just want to be comfortable out there!” Well, that was me, and when I read that, it clicked with me. I needed to work to increase my capacity for work, not to make it easier to play. I needed to work in order to be more productive in my time on the floor. Tough players play so hard that their coaches have to take them out to get rest so they can put them back in. The toughest players don’t pace themselves.

Get to your teammate first: When your teammate lays his body on the line to dive on the floor or take a charge, the tough players get to him first to help him back up. If your teammate misses a free throw, tough players get to him right away. Tough players are also great teammates.

Take responsibility for your teammates: Tough players expect a lot from their teammates, but they also put them first. When the bus leaves at 9 a.m., tough players not only get themselves there, but they also make sure their teammates are up and get there, too. Tough players take responsibility for others in addition to themselves. They make sure their teammates eat first, and they give credit to their teammates before taking it themselves.

Take a charge: Tough players are in a stance, playing the ball, and alert in coming over from the weak side and taking a charge. Tough players understand the difference between being in the right spot and being in the right spot with the intention of stopping somebody. Some players will look puzzled and say, “But I was in the right spot.” Tough players know that they have to get to the right spot with the sense of urgency to stop someone. The toughest players never shy away from taking a charge.

Get in a stance: Tough players don’t play straight up and down and put themselves in the position of having to get ready to get ready. Tough players are down in a stance on both ends of the floor, with feet staggered and ready to move. Tough players are the aggressor, and the aggressor is in a stance.

Finish plays: Tough players don’t just get fouled, they get fouled and complete the play. They don’t give up on a play or assume that a teammate will do it. A tough player plays through to the end of the play and works to finish every play.

Work on your pass: A tough player doesn’t have his passes deflected. A tough player gets down, pivots, pass-fakes, and works to get the proper angle to pass away from the defense and deliver the ball.

Throw yourself into your team’s defense: A tough player fills his tank on the defensive end, not on offense. A tough player is not deterred by a missed shot. A tough player values his performance first by how well he defended.

Take and give criticism the right way: Tough players can take criticism without feeling the need to answer back or give excuses. They are open to getting better and expect to be challenged and hear tough things. You will never again in your life have the opportunity you have now at the college level: a coaching staff that is totally and completely dedicated to making you and your team better. Tough players listen and are not afraid to say what other teammates may not want to hear, but need to hear.

Show strength in your body language: Tough players project confidence and security with their body language. They do not hang their heads, do not react negatively to a mistake of a teammate, and do not whine and complain to officials. Tough players project strength, and do not cause their teammates to worry about them. Tough players do their jobs, and their body language communicates that to their teammates — and to their opponents.

Catch and face: Teams that press and trap are banking on the receiver’s falling apart and making a mistake. When pressed, tough players set up their cuts, cut hard to an open area and present themselves as a receiver to the passer. Tough players catch, face the defense, and make the right read and play, and they do it with poise. Tough players do not just catch and dribble; they catch and face.

Don’t get split: If you trap, a tough player gets shoulder-to-shoulder with his teammate and does not allow the handler to split the trap and gain an advantage on the back side of the trap.

Be alert: Tough players are not “cool.” Tough players are alert and active, and tough players communicate with teammates so that they are alert, too. Tough players echo commands until everyone is on the same page. They understand the best teams play five as one. Tough players are alert in transition and get back to protect the basket and the 3- point line. Tough players don’t just run back to find their man, they run back to stop the ball and protect the basket.

Concentrate, and encourage your teammates to concentrate: Concentration is a skill, and tough players work hard to concentrate on every play. Tough players go as hard as they can for as long as they can.

It’s not your shot; it’s our shot: Tough players don’t take bad shots, and they certainly don’t worry about getting “my” shots. Tough players work for good shots and understand that it is not “my” shot, it is “our” shot. Tough players celebrate when “we” score.

Box out and go to the glass every time: Tough players are disciplined enough to lay a body on someone. They make first contact and go after the ball. And tough players do it on every possession, not just when they feel like it. They understand defense is not complete until they secure the ball.

Take responsibility for your actions: Tough players make no excuses. They take responsibility for their actions. Take James Johnson for example. With 17 seconds to go in Wake’s game against Duke on Wednesday, Jon Scheyer missed a 3-pointer that bounced right to Johnson. But instead of aggressively pursuing the ball with a sense of urgency, Johnson stood there and waited for the ball to come to him. It never did. Scheyer grabbed it, called a timeout and the Blue Devils hit a game-tying shot on a possession they never should’ve had. Going after the loose ball is toughness — and Johnson didn’t show it on that play. But what happened next? He re-focused, slipped a screen for the winning basket, and after the game — when he could’ve been basking only in the glow of victory — manned up to the mistake that could’ve cost his team the win. “That was my responsibility — I should have had that,” Johnson said of the goof. No excuses. Shouldering the responsibility. That’s toughness.

Look your coaches and teammates in the eye: Tough players never drop their heads. They always look coaches and teammates in the eye, because if they are talking, it is important to them and to you.

Move on to the next play: Tough players don’t waste time celebrating a good play or lamenting a bad one. They understand that basketball is too fast a game to waste time and opportunities with celebratory gestures or angry reactions. Tough players move on to the next play. They know that the most important play in any game is the next one.

Be hard to play against, and easy to play with: Tough players make their teammates’ jobs easier, and their opponents’ jobs tougher.

Make every game important: Tough players don’t categorize opponents and games. They know that if they are playing, it is important. Tough players understand that if they want to play in championship games, they must treat every game as a championship game.

Make getting better every day your goal: Tough players come to work every day to get better, and keep their horizons short. They meet victory and defeat the same way: They get up the next day and go to work to be better than they were the day before. Tough players hate losing but are not shaken or deterred by a loss. Tough players enjoy winning but are never satisfied. For tough players, a championship or a trophy is not a goal; it is a destination. The goal is to get better every day.

When I was playing, the players I respected most were not the best or most talented players. The players I respected most were the toughest players. I don’t remember anything about the players who talked a good game or blocked a shot and acted like a fool. I remember the players who were tough to play against.

Anybody can talk. Not anybody can be tough.

Craig Allen • Designer & Developer • Kansas City
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