Friday, April 29, 2016

Club volleyball will get my child a college volleyball scholarship

So your son or daughter wants to play volleyball in college.   I am not going to use this post to give you the magic formula to make that happen.  There are plenty of recruiting services and internet resources (and even resources within the Gateway Region (see their website)) that can help you help your child get that scholarship. 

If your son or daughter plays high level club since 6th grade it is very possible that it could cost you $15,000 by the time they graduate from high school.   Is that the best way to spend that money?  I think national level clubs make kids better faster than smaller clubs, at least on average.  However, I think there may be better ways of getting your child a volleyball scholarship than playing expensive club ball for all those years. 

I just don't believe that playing at a high level in club necessarily improves your chance of getting a college volleyball scholarship.  People say that playing club gets their daughter "seen" by college coaches, especially if they travel.  I don't buy that for any but the top players on a team.  In a gym with 200 17s teams playing, how much time does a college coach have to spend looking at one team?  Not very much and they probably spend most of that time looking at the best (and most featured) 1-3 players on each team. 

Hopefully I have gotten you thinking.  Is high level club the best way (or even the most financially efficient way if you are resource limited) to get my child a volleyball scholarship

As an alternative, what would happen if you played on a less expensive club team (say under $1000) and took the rest of the $2000-$3500 a year you are spending in club when your daughter gets to high school and just spread it out over the summer with her going to camps of colleges she might like to attend?   If you send the coach a letter saying you are going to be attending a camp and fill out the on-line questionnaire indicating your interest in that school, you can get probably 5-6 schools to get a week-long look at your son or daughter for the same price you paid for a club season.   Plus, by expressing an interest in a volleyball scholarship at that school you know they are likely to be looking for your child in the dozens of kids in her grade level that are attending that camp.   Actually, when you think about the touches that a child gets at a bunch of weeklong camps over the summer and compare that to the touches they get in a club season, it might not turn out to be as different as you think.  If a camp goes 5 days and it is 6 hours a day and you attend 4 of them over the summer, it actually is identical to the 120 hours of touches your son or daughter gets from a whole club season plus it is more focused and is right before your high school season, making it very timely.  And that is not the only way to help your child get that scholarship

 Here is a homemade YouTube site for a kid with no club experience who wanted to play in college: ).  It's not slick but it is free and you can do it yourself.

Now, in addition to attending the camps, if you create a site like this and it gives college coaches another way to see your child in action, maybe that might be an alternate way (to expensive club volleyball) to get your child's name out there.   One piece of advice about a personal website.   Putting video on a website is a great idea  as college coaches can, at their leisure, watch your child play.  However, if you edit out all the bad plays and edit in all the spectacular plays, college coaches might not like that.  My suggestion is to put full games on that website so the coach can browse.  If you want to lead with a highlight reel, no harm in that.   Just give them some full games or matches to look at so that they know the highlight reel is not that far from the truth about how your child plays.

Lastly, I suggest that you and your child are the best advocates to get your child that college scholarship.  While clubs (through their contacts) and recruiting services (through the college coaches who subscribe) can help, it is you who could make the difference by being actively involved in the recruiting process, maybe without the help of anyone else.   I urge you to take full advantage of the free resources at your disposal in addition to any services (club or professional recruiting) you also want to use.

In summary, I think that having your child "seen" from playing on a club team is probably an inefficient way of helping your child get a volleyball scholarship.   If you are resource limited and don't want to invest in 6 years of high level club ball there are other ways of helping to get your child a scholarship and I think I have covered some of those above, although these are just my opinions of what might work, not that I am telling you they will work....but it is something maybe to consider. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How much should our gym time be costing us?

I have been extremely lucky as a club director over the years.   As near as I remember I have never paid over $35 an hour for gym time and, except for a couple of seasons where we used a central facility, have never paid over $20 an hour for gym time.

This past season 75% of our gym time for our two teams was actually free and all we paid for our other gym time was $10-20 an hour and we practiced on wood courts about half the time!

How did I pull off this miracle:

a. Deciding that it was more important to practice for free than for all my teams to practice together in one facility.

b. Spend the time finding free gyms to practice in.

Some club directors LOVE to have all their teams practice in one facility and, in fact, work to make that happen.  There are advantages to practicing predominantly in one facility.  Among these, simplifying the practice schedule for the club administrators is not an insignificant one. 

However, the tradeoff to the good things you get from practicing in a large facility is that court time is usually pretty expensive.   I have heard that some facilities charge up to $50 an hour per court.   When you add that into your cost of playing club volleyball, it can really skyrocket the parents' cost during the season.   Some club teams put in more than 100 hours of practice during the season.  At $50 an hour this costs $5000 or $500 for each parent for practice time for a season.  Is having a centralized practice facility worth that much?  I thought that there had to be a better way.

So we looked for, and found, practice facilities all over the area we practiced in and found free ones all over that area.   I won't go into details of how we made that work but, trust me, there are free practice facilities all over the Gateway Region.   You just have to find them.

Now, I will tell you that this creates a lot of work for the club administrators (me, in my club) but it is worth it to me because it helps me keep my costs WAY down.   And you know what else, I can give our teams their entire practice and tournament schedule by December 1st so it's not like our players are waiting until Monday night to see if I can find a practice facility for Tuesday.    That has happened a couple of times when snow days came on us suddenly but, generally, all the parents know where all the practices are from the beginning of the season and, in cases where there might be a couple of holes in that schedule, it gives the parents a chance by helping out and coming up with free gyms for us. 

Now people have said to me 'well, our facilities are better'.  You know what, in many cases you are right.  However, since I managed to coach the first girls team in our region's history to medal at the open division of nationals and ran practices EXCLUSIVELY on tile floors in a free gymnasium, I am pretty sure that not having the best practice facility was not a hindrance to either player development, player safety or winning.  BTW, this year we practiced 50% on wood floors and 50% on tile floors in our club and practiced for free 75% of the time.

So the questions I suggest you ask your club director are:

a. How much did you look to find us free or cheap facilities to practice in?

b. If we, as parents of this team, can find acceptable and free or cheap places to practice, can we get money back at the end of the year?

As your practice facilities likely represent a significant chunk of the money you invest in your child's club volleyball team each year, I think club directors should be busting it to find teams cheap or free practice facilities.  If they are not, they are not thinking about protecting the money of the parents in their club.  Since that is the theme of this blog, I consider this a very important point for all club directors to consider.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

To travel or not to travel

For the larger clubs in our region, traveling is very important.  It allows teams to play good competition.  One of the referees last year joked with me about a great 18s girls team in our region who was so good his question was "Who do they play to get competition?"  Also, there is a school of thought that traveling allows kids to be seen by more college recruiters than playing in region.  I get all that as my club, Team St. Louis, was one of the pioneering clubs in our region that played mostly out-of-town tournaments to get better competition and get our kids seen by college coaches..

But that was some time ago and when there were only a handful of clubs in the region.  Now that the region has expanded from about 50 teams to 500 teams,  I am questioning how much traveling benefits most of the players who are now playing club ball.  The reason for my change of heart is the cost of that travel to parents vs the benefit to the kids.    

Traveling can really be broken down into three major types with some sub-types:

a. 1- or 2-day inter-regional events

b. Inter-regional 3 day events, including national qualifiers

c. 4 or more day national championship events (USA Volleyball, AAU and others).

Let me start by saying that I think a little travel is good for a lot of the teams in this region....IF that travel is done in a fiscally responsible way and by playing in a tournament appropriate to the talent of the team that is doing the traveling.  It gives the players a chance to see other competition, to bond and to have some fun on an out-of-town trip.  For the coaches and the parents, it gives them a great teaching opportunity for the kids to learn a little about the importance of taking seriously the responsibility of getting rest and playing as well as they possibly can to justify the cost of traveling out of town to play volleyball.

For some of the rural teams in our region, this traveling can be accomplished by coming to regionals as a number of those teams would have to stay in St. Louis as commuting back and forth to regionals would not be possible.  For St. Louis area teams they would have to (and do) travel to places like Memphis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Kansas City or Chicago, all within driving distance of St. Louis. 

This year our younger team wanted to travel so I tried an experiment.  We went to a one-day tournament in Indianapolis, an event of a size that it was promoted on the inter-regional tournament website Advanced Event Systems (AES).  A one day event meant the parents would have to stay one night in the hotel and the kids would, well, get to stay one night in a hotel.  The tournament was on Saturday so everyone drove up Friday night.  Parents had the option of staying over Saturday night or driving back after the tournament.   Well, the kids loved it and all the parents drove back on Saturday night to save money.  And we won the tournament.  Total cost per family was about $125, not counting gas.  I think the kids and parents were appreciative of me being able to find them an out-of-town event that was cost effective, didn't cost them a 3-day weekend AND allowed them to have a good out-of-town experience.

So, there you have it.  You can travel out of town and STILL keep it cheap.  The best of both worlds.

Which brings me to the topic of USA Volleyball national qualifiers.   I will be up front and say that I don't like them.  I never did.  It cost the parents so much money to go to them that I had to swallow hard, even when we had some of the best teams in the country in my club, to ask the parents to pay the kind of money you have to pay for those events.    Why do teams go to national qualifiers?

a. The main reason is to chase after bids to the upper divisions of USAV nationals

b. For 'the experience' of playing in a huge event. 

c. To help showcase their players to help them get a college scholarships in a location where there are so many teams that a whole bunch of college coaches are there. 

Let's examine these three reasons and alternatives:

a.  Chasing the bid - To be the best you have to play the best, or so the expression goes.  So teams go to qualifiers to try to qualify for the nationals (where, supposedly, the best teams play).  Well, a couple of years ago I had my eyes opened to how ridiculous this USA Volleyball national qualifier system is.  I don't know if all of you realize this but each of those clubs who are chasing bids to nationals and spending A LOT of parents' money could play some of the best teams in the US, probably at the same level as in USA Volleyball Nationals, simply by playing at the AAU National Championships in Orlando in June.  The cost for AAU nationals is almost identical to that for USA Volleyball Nationals because AAU has a lower entry fee which is offset by teams having to register as AAU members.   As I understand it, there is no qualifying process FOR ANY DIVISION AT AAU nationals.  You just register for the division you want to play in and send in your money.  So the cost to parents of 2 or 3 out-of-town national qualifiers can be eliminated from a team's budget just by making a pre-season decision to just register for AAU nationals, even for the highest and most competitive division, Open.  You could do the same thing for lower divisions of AAU that mimic the USA, National and American division of USA Volleyball Nationals.  Plus you can enter early, make your own reservations and travel plans early to get good deals as you know where your end-of-season tournament would be held.

b. The experience of playing in a big, out-of-town event - This can cost families between $500-1500, depending on whether they had to fly to get there.  For many, this would essentially double what they had to pay for their club season, for one 3-day event.   To give you an example of how traveling can go wrong and needlessly cost parents lots of money for a not-so-good experience, a certain team in our region has gone to the Kansas City qualifier two years in a row.  That team did this despite the fact that I don't think they were ranked in the top 50 teams IN OUR REgION in their age group either year!  Each year it must have cost the each family on that team $500-800 in hotel, tournament registration, admittance fees and travel fees to play in this event and EACH YEAR they went 0-6 on the first two days of the qualifier.   Last year they lost their first match on the last day to end up 0-7 and this year they won both of their last day matches....against other teams who had lost all their matches on the first two days.  To me, this was a ridiculous waste of parents' money and showed complete lack of knowledge of inter-regional events and fiscal irresponsibility by the coaches of this team, but that is just me.  Again, that is just my opinion and maybe the parents of the kids on this team feel differently.  However, from having done this for years, I know there were better ways for this group of parents to spend their money and STILL get their kids a good out-of-town experience at literally a fraction of the cost. 

c. College recruiting -  I will cover this one in more detail in a later post but I think you get CLOSELY and CONSTANTLY (over a short, intense period of time) seen by more colleges in other ways outside of the hit-or-miss national qualifiers.

 In summary, I think traveling can be a good experience for players and parents.  I also think there are potentially some myths about the benefits of playing out of town that need to be re-explored.  I think clubs need to be fiscally responsible by being careful about what events to send a team to.   I also think more clubs should consider playing in the AAU National Championships instead of trying to qualify for USA Volleyball Nationals. 

I suggest that all parents talk to their club if that club plans to have their child's team travel.   It can be good if it is done right or it can be a total waste of money and time if it is done wrong by people who have no clue how to do it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I know you're not the IRS, but can you give me a refund anyway?

I have to wonder if people ask for itemized receipts any more.   I normally do but I am, as we have established, old school.    However, I, too, am getting numbed to this.  I don't ask for my daughter's school to provide me with an itemized list for what her tuition pays for.  Nor do I ask at the end of the year if they didn't spend any of my money and can I have the remaining part back.  You pay the tuition and the money goes into a black hole.  You assume they spent all your money and maybe more from generous donors, but you don't know. 

Club volleyball is sort of like that.  With a number of clubs you pay your money and that is it.  You don't see an itemized bill for how your money was spent or, with one club, the itemized bill was actually laughable because the amount the club said the parents spent was within a couple of pennies of the amount the parents paid.  Don't we all wish that we could keep our checkbooks that balanced!

Some clubs actually do an itemized receipt, some more itemized than others.  Those clubs generally give the parents some sort of refund.   For the last 4 years I have coached I gave my teams an itemized bill at the end of the season...along with a refund.   Last year our two teams paid in $350 and $300 which we collected in three and two installments, respectively.    One team got a $103 refund per player at the end of the year and the other team, for players who already had their uniforms, got an $83 refund and this was all detailed in a itemized spreadsheet e-mailed to each parent. 

I think clubs owe parents an itemized bill at the end of the season.  Sure, like the one club I talked about above, the math could be totally laughable, but at least the parents would have something to talk about.  In the case I mentioned, the parents laughed all the way to playing for another club  the next season once they saw the itemization.  Without an itemized bill how do you know how your money was spent?

Sometimes I think clubs just forget that every dollar is important to families.    Providing an itemized expense report to each parent is a good way to check to see how much money was spent to see if there is money that should be refunded to parents.  Yes, it is a pain in the rear end for the club.  However, at least one of the biggest (and best) clubs in our region does these spreadsheets and gives a refund to parents if one is owed.   When you are paying a lot of your hard-earned money for your child to play club volleyball, I think that this is much appreciated by parents.

So the question of the day is: If your club didn't give you an itemized bill (and likely a refund) why not?

Should I be getting paid for a volunteer job?

I have coached for almost 30 years and have only been paid to coach a team one year.  Most years I didn't even take expense money (hotels, travel).  And when I coach my own child, she pays as much as everyone else, no discounts.

That being said, I get it.   Club volleyball has exploded in our region.   There is a huge need for coaches.   So club directors have to be able to get very busy adults to want to coach.  Every prospective coach I talk to asks me if they will be getting paid.  It's not always the first question they ask but every single person I have talked to about coaching asks the question.  Young people who might not be as lucky as I was, job-wise, or older people who have a million other things pulling at their free time and who are trying to make ends meet.  These people probably need to make SOMETHING out of coaching just to cover expenses.   Still, how much should coaches be paid?

I had this long, drawn out explanation of what I thought coaches should get paid but I decided not to lengthen this post with that.   Suffice it to say that a coach whose team practices twice a week and plays in 8 tournaments a year puts in about 120 hours with their team.  It comes down to how much you, as a parent, think that time is worth in what might be a real job (W-2 issued at the end of the year) or a pseudo-job (no W-2 issued and any payments treated as reimbursements for time and expenses).  I don't have any gauge as to how much select coaches get "paid" in other sports.   Maybe club volleyball coaches are underpaid, I don't know.  Maybe some of you have experience and I will let you be the judge.  However, as a parent whose son or daughter plays club volleyball in this region, I think you should be asking yourself (and your club) the following questions:

a. Do I know how much the coach is making (including any discounts that coach is getting for his/her kid(s) playing in that club) to coach my child's team?

b. Do the coaches in this club make different amounts based on their experience and prior success or are they all paid the same?  My premise here is that not all coaches are equal so neither should their pay, if they accept pay to coach.  If coaches want to get paid more, they should work to improve their coaching skills.  If you just pay every coach the same amount there is no incentive for improvement.

c. Looking around the region at what other coaches are being paid, do I think this coach, based on their experience, is being paid appropriately?  I think this is important.   Club directors can pay coaches if that is what it takes to get coaches.  But, again, pay should be related to ability and experience, as it is in any job situationn. 

I don't think it is mean to ask these questions.  It is just good consumerism.  With 800 head + assistant coaches in our region, I think these are questions you need to ask and here are two real life
situations I have heard about over the past few years that represent reasons where you might want to ask those questions:

a. A coach in a club was paid and also their child played for free, a $1000 value.  Not sure if the parents on that team knew that or not.   Her only previous coaching experience was catholic grade school (CYC) volleyball.

 b. A club had two girls still in high school coaching a younger team in their club.   I don't know if those coaches were getting the same pay as other coaches in their club.  Probably shouldn't have as they were clearly had no select coaching experience.

So, in summary, I don't think coaches should be paid but I understand why they are paid.   If they are paid, however, I think that pay should be tied to their level of experience they have and how much contact they have with their team.  Also, I don't think all coaches in the same club should get the same pay and I think parents should know how much their coach is getting paid/reimbursed for expenses/getting discounts for their kid(s) playing in that club.  We can't really treat club volleyball like a volunteer activity if the coaches and club administrators are being paid.  It becomes, at some level, a business (albeit maybe a not-for-profit business).  I have heard that one club director said he wanted to turn this into a 6-figure salary for himself.  If that is true this is more than a business, it is BIG business. 

Which leads us into what will be my next topic: Do you know where your money went this season for your child's club team?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Twinkee effect

Today we will talk about uniforms and accessories.   What is needed and what is just a wasted expense.

OK, I am an old guy.  

I remember when the Soviet Olympic team used to march into a competition wearing their matching warmups with matching gym bags.   It was impressive.  Still, as we approach the Olympics in Brazil this summer, I have this vision of gymnastic teams walking into a competition looking identical.  Sort of the ultimate "Twinkees" or whatever the slang would be for 7 girls who look identical.

The question is: how much, if anything, is it worth to have your team come into an event looking the same?

To me, the answer is it isn't worth a single thing.  Your warmups don't play the match, you do.  Your gym bag doesn't block a ball, you do.   So why do clubs require all this extra, costly gear?  There are really two reasons I can think of:

a. Some clubs think that it makes their club look more professional if they dress all the same in sharp-looking attire.  We have beaten a lot of teams over the years that were sharply dressed

b. I think that some clubs get a discount if they buy a 'package' from a vendor.  Certainly, in large clubs, buying in bulk really can save you money.  Unfortunately, this is for stuff you don't really need.  Yeah, if I could get a $1500 set of golf clubs for $1000 I could save $500.  But do I really need to be spending $1000 on new clubs?

The question in the minds of parents should be: does any of this make my son or daughter a better player?   The answer I have heard that clubs tell people "This is our mandatory uniform package" or "This is the way our club does it" is simply not a good enough reason for people to spend hundreds of dollars on stuff they don't really need.

I can tell you from 30 years of coaching experience that it doesn't.  In our club this year our uniform package was just two jerseys and one pair of spandex shorts.    The cost, with lettering and numbering was not cheap, being about $80 a player.  Still, this pales in comparison to the cost of uniform packages for other clubs, a number of them who we finished ranked higher than this year.   My thought is that you get what you need.  You need two jerseys (so you can have a libero) and one pair of briefs/shorts.  Other than that, most kids have a gym bag and a sweat shirt and sweat pants (my kids won't even wear sweatpants!) they can use.  If their coach wants them to wear a t-shirt over their jersey before a match everyone has a t-shirt.   BTW, no team I have ever coached wore t-shirts before a match and we did just fine. 

I'll leave you with this thought.   When you are getting to a gym at 7:00 in the morning and players are trickling in one at a time and parents are fighting to down that first cup of coffee just to keep their eyes open, how much do you think it matters that your warmups and bags don't match?   This is not the Olympics, it is not primetime TV and no one is watching.  Now, once the whistle blows, THAT is when people ARE watching, when the warmups and gym bags are stacked neatly in the corner of the facility or in the hallway, far from where the match is played.
Next we will tackle coaching pay.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

$175 tournaments

OK, let's get into the first topic of how clubs can, and probably should, save parents money.

A few years back the Gateway region allowed tournament directors to charge $175 for a local, one-day tournament if first referees were provided.  There are two schools of thought among coaches I have talked to about this:

1. Some love the idea of a certified referee as the first official at all their matches as they feel it gives them better officiating and, truth be told, for some of them it keeps them from having to be first officials during tournaments.

2. Some don't think it is worth $75.  There are lots of reasons that coaches don't like the extra $75. Here are mine:

a. Our teams are just there to compete.  The presence of first referees doesn't change that.
b. It may not benefit our teams much.  If you are a #3 or #4 seed in your pool there is about a 50/50 chance that you will only have to officiate one time during the day. 
c. It costs us an additional $7.50 or more a player to play in this event which, given a. and b., is simply a waste of money as overall, that is almost another tournament entry fee.
d. As if c. isn't enough, it also appears, if you do the math, that not all of the $75 a team pays in goes to pay for officials.  If you don't believe me, let's do the math.

Assuming an 8-team tournament, two pools of 4 teams and gold and silver playoffs there are:

12 pool play matches + 6 playoff matches.  That's a total of 18 matches.   Let's assume the first referee is getting $25 a match (which is what the region pays).  That means that $450 of the entry fee money goes to pay for the first referee.  But 8 teams pay an extra $75 for referees (a total of $600).   Where does that extra $150 go?  Probably in the pockets of the tournament director. 

Some club directors don't have a choice of playing in these tournaments as their clubs support certain tournaments.  However, most club directors most DO have a choice. This would be a great way to save parents some money: don't play in any $175 tournaments. 

I will end as I normally do with a question:  For most teams in this region, is it worth it to play in 2-4 of these $175 tournaments and pay an additional $150-300 ($15-$30 per player) a year for local tournaments just to have certified first referees?  With the cost of club volleyball skyrocketing, this seems like a great place for clubs to save parents some money without really sacrificing anything.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why Does Club Volleyball Cost So Much?


My club had two teams this year.   One team finished the season ranked 25th out of 79 teams in their age group.  The other team finished 36th out of 80 teams in their age group.   Out cost per player was under $250 for returning players and $300 for new players who needed uniforms.  Most clubs in our area charge $800 to $3000 per player, not counting mandatory fundraisers and travel costs for out of town events.

Coaching in the St. Louis area for almost 30 years, I have asked myself this question a number of times. "Why are people paying thousands of dollars a year for club volleyball?" 

Here are some of the major costs associated with club volleyball:
  • Club overhead charges (including administrator salaries)
  • Coach salaries and per diems (food and hotel)
  • Uniform packages
  • Practice facility charges
  • Tournament entry fees
  • Player and coach registration fees and coach background checks
  • Equipment charges
  • Parent costs (hotels, airfare, gas, food, gift for coaches at end of season)
Certain costs (tournament entry fees, player/coach registration fees/background checks, uniform shirts (2) and shorts/spandex and a small amount for equipment/club overhead) are mandatory to have a team.  

But what about the other costs?  Most of the costs above are not needed if the goal is to make players better.  Since it is likely that only 5-10% of kids playing select volleyball will ever get volleyball scholarships, it would seem the goal is to make players better for three reasons:

a.  To teach them about playing in a competitive team environment in a sport they show proficiency at and love to play.
b. To optimize the team they are on and the role they have when they enter high school as freshmen
c. To maintain their ability to have a successful high school career (if they play club volleyball in high school).

You could add a 4th category, to have fun with their friends.  While that is important, it seems like that could be accomplished for much less than what people are paying for club volleyball.

Here are some of topics I plan to discuss on this blog:
  • Uniform packages: Does your son or daughter really need a team backpack?  Do they need a warmup?  Do they need a practice t-shirt? How many uniform shirts do they need?  How many pairs of shorts/briefs do they need?
  • Travel: Does your team need to be traveling out of town or even playing at an in-town national qualifier?  This is a huge money drain on a parent, with one trip, if the family flies, potentially doubling the cost of the season for that family.  We will discuss whether all teams should travel and ways to keep it less expensive.
  • Coaches getting paid: Do you need to be paying your coaches and, if so, how much?   In the St. Louis area and in our region there are over 500 select volleyball teams and probably closer to 800 coaches.  How many of those teams have coaches that are getting paid?  How many of those coaches do you think need to get paid?  That is, does your coach have the expertise and experience to coach kids at the level they are assigned to?  Do they actually have the ability to train players at a high level?   Is there evidence that your coach continues to do self-improvement in their volleyball coaching and coaching techniques, in general? 
  • Cost of practice: Is your club looking hard enough for cheap or free practice facilities or are they using centralized practice facilities which are costing your team $30, $40 or even $50 an hour?
  • Overhead: Is your club trying to keep administrative costs down to the bare minimum?  What are acceptable costs and what costs can be contained.
  • Simple cost-cutting: I will discuss ways to save money that is needless spent, like playing in local $175 tournaments just to get first referees for your matches.
  • Accountability, literally -Do you get a line item expense report at the end of the year which would allow you to answer a lot of the questions above?  If not, why not?
In the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 seasons our parents paid under $250 a player for an entire season with an average of 7 local tournaments plus regionals.  One of our teams added the Gateway Festival and the Mideast Qualifier in St. Louis and it only raised their amount to $350 a person.  This season our two teams finished ranked 25th (out of 79) and 36th (out of 90) teams in the region.  It can be done and it can be done cheaply.

I hope to give some examples of how this can be done in this blog.