There’s a certain irony that comes part and parcel with managing a school sports team. On the field, your students are trained into moving as one super-coordinated, goal-scoring entity. Off the field, getting them into one simple position – on a bus, in uniform and wearing their game-faces – can be harder than herding cats. All of a sudden everybody is going offside…
The logistics of managing a group of students and planning away games can be a daunting prospect for even the most switched on coach. Accommodation requirements, travel and other permissions can feel like a battle on par with winning the next championship. All it takes is a few miscommunications to ruin your best-laid plans. One tardy star player can cost you a game. Even the loss of a few less-than-key-players can ruin your numbers and earn you a season-ruining forfeit.
All that said, with effective and reliable parent communication your students will be hefting up the winners’ cup in no time. It’s all about having the very best tools to run a tight ship at your disposal.
Here’s an expert guide on how to make light work of keeping a disciplined team of winners on track. Sometimes literally, if their chosen sport is sprinting…
Introducing the ultimate coach’s assistant
The high-level benefits of using SkoolBag for sports are many. We’ve had a lot of feedback over the years from coaches seeking to take their team communication to the next level. Our platform has also provided Olympic level athletes with the tools needed to better coordinate with their handlers before crucial training meets and those all-important world record attempts.
Whether you’re going for gold at the highest level, or simply playing for fun in a friendly inter-school match, here are some steps to maximise your sporting experience with a school app.
1. Spark interest
Sometimes the hardest step is the very first one: promoting an opportunity to participate in sport. This can occur on a micro-level (simply finding and energising the hidden athletes among your own student base).
Once you have put a team together, the next hurdle can often be getting the word out to the student body about sporting opportunities. With SkoolBag it’s a cinch to broadly promote sports information days or to announce forthcoming try-outs. By casting a wider net you’ll have a better percentage chance of discovering students with hidden talents who have perhaps not even considered sports.
2. Get the (non) paperwork sorted
With your team standing by and a full season of events laid out in front of you, it’s time to do the least palatable part of being a coach. Nobody likes paperwork, but in today’s highly litigious world there’s no choice – get the signed consent form, or you’re down one athlete. In a team scenario that can be all the difference between a win and a loss that spirals into an inescapable points ladder fall.
With permission slips being of such critical importance, it’s imperative that they are handled by a system that’s much more reliable than the old printed handouts solution. SkoolBag offers easy to fill out eforms that can be completed, digitally signed and insta-delivered on the spot. This immediacy alone could solve a “lost form” situation right up until the very last minute before the event. If their parent or care caregiver has a phone and the app, the crisis can be averted.
“SkoolBag is a good way to create groups and communicate with members of the group and also get permission forms.” - Cathy Fischle, Admin, St Catherine’s School Stirling, SA.
3. Strategise behind the scenes
The team that wins isn’t always the one that trains hardest in the off-season. Most of the time just having effective pre-game communication – an established sense of roles, plus a bit of “in this together” camaraderie – can unify a group and deliver better on-field performance. Traditionally, the challenge with doing this was an inability to compartmentalise your coach communication to specific students and parents, as opposed to the entire school. Emailing doesn’t solve this problem, either; message chains with many multiple participants can get messy and confusing in no time.
Fortunately, SkoolBag allows you to filter your announcements to be team-specific. Using a feature called Groups, you can effectively target your message to the athletes and parents who need to hear it most. One obvious benefit is an added layer of secrecy when it comes to announcing the frequency of your training sessions, or even reminders on what drills your students ought to focus on for homework. That’s tactical info your competitors would like to have, after all.
“The SkoolBag school messaging system is so easy to use. It’s essential when you’re managing sports teams at a large school like Knox.” Sharon Dewar, Sports Coordinator, Knox Grammar School, NSW.
4. Keep your (mighty) ducks in a row
Having a clear vision of when your next event occurs – and where – is crucial to maximising your training regimes. Away games especially need to be identified early so that travel arrangements and permissions can be squared away early so that your energies can be better focussed on getting the fitness level of your athletes where they need to be.
The main advantage of using a shared calendar with your team is that it makes scheduling training and planning events a breeze. Forgetting an obligation you made with some of your athletes isn’t just embarrassing. It could be disastrous for team morale. After all, who wants to give 110% for a coach who misses deadlines or forgets about meetings?
5. Have a game day safety net
With the fateful day of glory upon you and your students, it’s time to ensure that everybody has their eyes on the prize. It’s at this point that you can make great use of what’s known as Scheduled Posts. Perhaps this will be a chance to give one final reminder for everybody to bring their sports-specific footwear and/or uniform, lest they are disqualified on a technicality.
Alternatively, the especially well-spoken and personable coach might use this opportunity to have some pre-prepared words of wisdom and encouragement pop up to give the team that final confidence boost. Honestly, you’d be surprised what a copy/pasted speech from the Mighty Ducks films can do. Here are three shareable examples to get you started!
6. Celebrate and enhance school spirit
Speaking of maximising emotions, be sure to use your school app as a means to congratulate your students on a stunning win or even a hard-fought match that didn’t go their way in the end. SkoolBag allows even the most amateur photographer to quickly snap a quick picture from the app from the sidelines and upload the moment more or less as it happens. Later on, you’ll also have the SkoolBag eNewsletter facility for when it comes time to upload a larger, dedicated gallery of photos and overview of your victory.
In our experience, the image route is often the better option for coaches of few speeches (or ones who are simply too overtaken with emotion to express their pride). As a picture of a smiling student holding aloft a trophy or medal says a thousand words!