Thursday, 23 July 2020

Published Thursday, July 23, 2020 with 0 comment

In Charge of Team Snacks? Foods to Choose and Foods to Avoid

As the coach schedules the practice game, in the “I’m Bringing” section, he puts your name alongside team snacks. You are a new sports parent and are going to be doing this for the very first time. This could be tricky.
If you’ve been caught in such a situation or feel the chill of getting in one, here’s quick guide to foods you can and foods you should avoid taking to a kids’ game.
The choice of food will depend on the duration of the practice or game. If the duration is going to be less, you can pick from granola bars, oranges, bananas with some healthy beverages like juices etc. But if the duration of the game is going to be longer, like a league or competition wherein kids will be required to come early and hold back until awards ceremony, then you may need to take enough food to keep kids satiated throughout the day. Here’s a quick reference as to what foods to choose and what foods to avoid.
Balance Carbs, Proteins and Fats
Most parents feel taking sugary food will do the trick as it will give the necessary energy boost. While this is true, but it’s just partial truth. Kids need proteins and fats too.
In fact, the type of nutrition can be planned on the type of activity kids would be required to do. For instance, an hour before the game, you can give simple carbs like granola bars, juices, fresh or dried fruit etc. Post-game focus on protein intake like milkshake. Mid-day snacks can include berries, granola, almond butter and jam sandwiches, parfait etc.
Healthy Beverages
Avoid caffeine based beverages, especially soda. Ill effects of caffeine include dehydration, energy crashes etc. which can directly affect the kid’s performance.
Instead, you can take homemade lemonade, or diluted juice with sea salt and honey, or infused water with sea salt and honey etc. These are natural sports drinks. Avoid bottled sports drinks from the store.
Easily Digesting Food
Avoid fatty meats like beef or pepperoni since the digestion process is complex, and can cause gastric distress.
Again, opt for fruits, granola bars, pretzels and any easily digestible food.
Food allergies can land people in nasty situations, sometimes even life threatening condition. It would indeed be a good idea to contact team parents in advance and get a list of individual child’s allergy update. This information can be updated on InstaTeam for future reference.
Lastly, just let the common sense take over. Consider healthier options to junk food. Do not take messy food that is oozing sauces or will leave crumbs all over the place. Similarly, cakes and pastries with excessive cream, cheesy treats that have cheese dripping or food that comes with excessive packaging should be avoided. And yes, don’t forget a lavish supply of paper towels, hand sanitizers and extra garbage bags.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Published Tuesday, July 21, 2020 with 0 comment

Planning Re-entry? Don’t Forget These Safety Tips

The pandemic, lockdown and scare around it changed the way we did things, even how we lived. Difficult as it was adjusting to the new normal of Covid-19 times, looks like coming out of it now is going to be even more difficult.
As states prepare to reopen, slowly initiating people back to the life that was, there’s a lot of anxiety around it. For some, there’s still scare in the world out there, they aren’t ready yet to go out, while for some, they can’t wait enough. They are just so eager to get back that their enthusiasm may come at the cost of safety, least precautions.
For those managing youth sports, managing the anxiety and ensuring a smooth and safe comeback may be a whole different level of complexity. They have to start with bringing parents to an agreement that it is safe out there now. That said, they also have to keep a certain degree of fear injected such that the reassurance does not border with an insouciant attitude, especially towards safety. Then they have to manage the different forms of anxiety the kids may be going through.
In the middle of all this anxiety mania, the one thing that cannot be side-lined at any cost is the safety. As you plan to re-enter, here are some essentials you need to be mindful of:
Social Distancing
We may not heard of the term ‘social distancing’ in the past, but now this has become the universal norm defining lives across the globe. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has clearly defined the minimum distance of six feet between two people. This means sports would have to do away with high-fives, fist-bumps, handshakes and physical contact of any kind. This also means parents cannot afford to have carpools anymore. Most importantly, it means that sports clubs and coaches would have to design training programs that keep kids engaged, build up on their game skills, still managing the six-feet distance criterion.
Now that the WHO has confirmed that the virus is airborne, safety equipment becomes an absolute essential. Every player, coach, manager, staff member must have their Personal Protective Equipment on at all times. While the specifics of the recommended PPE may change as per exposure, the bare minimum includes face be covered with masks and shields, gloves etc. Make sure all the protective gear is sanitized after every use, and washing hands is more than a practice, it becomes a habit.
From temperature checks to Covid tests on experiencing symptoms, feeling unwell and/or coming in contact or close proximity of a positive case, testing/screening for Covid needs to be a must. Every club/team/organization should create a SOP for the same.
The Balancing Act
We may be planning re-entry, but we are not one hundred percent ready. Before taking a full-fledged dive, it is advisable that clubs try the virtual plus physical training model. Having a day or two of physical training initially and rest of days as virtual sessions, may be a good way to start. The virtual sessions can be scheduled on InstaTeam, just like the way games and practices were scheduled before the pandemic. This will give a team feel while making it easier for coaches to plan, schedule and conduct the virtual sessions.
These are unprecedented times, and adjustments may continue to come. The important part is we move on with what is and make the most of it.

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Monday, 20 July 2020

Published Monday, July 20, 2020 with 1 comment

Communication Strategy For Sports Clubs

For any organization, communication plays a vital role in its day-to-day operations and overall existence. Since sports clubs have three set of clients to deal with (parents, players and spectators), communication becomes even more imperative.
Sports clubs, like schools, hobby & skill classes, have to be savvy with their external coordination and communication, i.e. with parents and students, along-side having an immaculate communication system internally, i.e. within the organization. While external communication defines the perception or repute of the club, internal communication assures seamless execution of values and vision. In both the cases, the key is communication, and any organization looking at fulfilling their performance and financial goals, need to have a robust communication strategy.
Forming the Communication Strategy
In the digital era, a communication strategy has to be quintessentially be woven around the digital devices. Social media is another constituent that cannot be disregarded. The strenuous communication strategy integrates new age communication instruments and old-school brand values, making a holistic master plan that defines goals and actions for the brand.
External Communication
  • Website
This is where you start. Your website is your official facet for the world. Use it as a platform to represent and inform. It should consist of the all relevant information of the club, should be designed to represent the brand values of the club. Update it on a regular basis for the latest information like achievements, upcoming events etc.
In short, your website must say all you want to tell the world about your club.
  • Social Media
Whether you like it or not, social media presence, for any brand that wishes to communicate with the world, is indispensable. You need to have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts at the very least if not more. These are great platforms to share stories, action and achievements of the club. Social media is also one of the most prudent ways to engage with your audience.
While the engagement on social media is great, one needs to make a different strategy for different platforms. One size does not fit all. To understand how to engage on social media, read our blog that helps you understand different platforms and how to engage with each of them individually.
  • Emailers
Emailers are a great customer touch point. Create content that would be relevant and intriguing for your audience. While sending emailers will help with help get in touch, the quality of content can help with the engagement.
Internal Communication
  • InstaTeam
Internally, a sports club needs a dedicated platform that can keep coaches, staff, players and parents connected real time. InstaTeam does that and more. It cuts the clutter and helps provide precise and concise communication.
InstaTeam automates or digitalizes sports team management. From scheduling to rostering to helping parents with carpooling to sharing on social media, InstaTeam organizes it all in one single platform. The team gets reminders for upcoming events, coaches can send text messages, notifications and emails in one go. Be it marking attendance for an upcoming event or allocating tasks for parents (like arranging water, snacks etc.) or helping coaches with payments, or selling tickets and merchandise for an upcoming event, or even helping with fundraisers, InstaTeam is an absolute solution for all things team. 
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Friday, 10 July 2020

Published Friday, July 10, 2020 with 1 comment

Pandemic Questionnaire For Youth Sports

Coronavirus may not be the first global pandemic, but it’s corollary and severity of impact on people’s life is definitely a first. No one was prepared for anything like this. Right from governments to organizations, businesses, to individuals, everyone was caught off guard. So if your sports club is trying to figure out how to go about operating during the pandemic, believe us you are not alone, almost everybody is catching up on coping with this horror.
When the pandemic started, our lives went through tremendous change in a very short period. From practising relentlessly and playing the season, youth sports suddenly went to training at home. And the way it looks for now, we won’t be able return back to the field at least for a couple of months.
While coaches and athletic directors are trying hard to find ways to keep players engaged, it may be a good idea to ask players themselves of what they feel about virtual training and how they wish to have the online sessions done.
InstaTeam’s ‘Team Surveys’ feature can come in handy to send across the questionnaire and get feedback. You can read the blog about team surveys to learn how to create surveys.
Here are a few questions to help you create your questionnaire:
Online sessions
  • How do you feel about online sessions? Do you like them?
  • Are the sessions easy to follow?
  • Have you been finding it difficult to carry on with the training from home?
  • Do you feel the frequency of the sessions is too much?
  • Should the frequency of sessions be increased?
  • Should the frequency of sessions be decreased?
  • Are the sessions too lengthy?
  • Should the duration of the sessions be increased?
  • Should the duration of the sessions be decreased?
  • Should there be more team counselling/interaction sessions?
General Health and Well Being
  • Are you being able to stay focused?
  • Are you being able to stay motivated?
  • Do you find our emails, video and other motivational links helpful?
  • Would you like to hear from us more often to help you stay focused?
Easing Back
  • Would you be willing to join back as soon as we start?
  • Do you feel the need to restart from basic level just to catch up on skills and endurance?
  • Do you feel physically-ready to start?
  • Do you feel emotionally-ready to start?

These are just a few sample questions to get you started on your survey. You can customize the survey according to your need. We wish you success during these uncertain times, and hope to see you in action soon!

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Published Friday, July 10, 2020 with 9 comments

The New Normal For Youth Sports

Coronavirus has changed the world. Businesses, lifestyles, relationships, routines, everything has to adjust to the new normal. Business models are being tweaked to include no physical interaction with customers, restaurants are switching to take-outs and delivery, luxury stores are switching to include essentials, educational institutions are going online, it’s a world spun over. So what does ‘youth sports’ look like?
This may not be the best times for youth sports as the pandemic still lingers on, and worse, the fear would go on for longer than anyone thought. That said, kids are more than will to get back to the action, running, playing, hi-fiving one another and sweating it out with their buddies.
The action on field may have to wait a bit longer, but physical training online is just around the corner. If you are a coach, here’s what to expect –
Online and In-person Training
Many coaches have been engaging their teams in virtual fitness sessions, both physical fitness and emotional well-being. While this has been a great way to keep the teams constructively engaged and positively motivated, the motivation might be dwindling. Fortunately some places are seeing unlocking in phases. There are places where public parks and open spaces are opening up. As a coach you need to stay aware. If parks have opened up in your vicinity, you can plan on having a session or two in an open park. The open park helps avoid unnecessary contact with people and surfaces, and then there is the fresh air and vitamin D that’s good for kids. You can plan a mix of virtual sessions and in-person training.
Limiting Physical Interaction
Although, this may not seem like a big deal, but coaches would have to make conscious effort to limit physical interaction. For instance, hi-fives would have to give way to air fives, and handshakes would have to be replaced by foot shakes. Maintaining six feet of distance may be the norm for a while, so coaches would have to get creative to work their training around this new normal.
The New Sports Kit
Sports kits would have to now include the following:
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Disinfectant sprays
  • Individual training gear
  • Face masks and face shields
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
A global pandemic is a first for everyone involved. Now, more than ever, is the time you need to communicate with the players and their parents. InstaTeam eases the bit of sending across the message to the entire team easier for you. So communicate, spare no detail, however basic it may seem.
Tell players not to show-up for training if they are not feeling well. Talk about the training plan in detail and make sure parents acknowledge the message – how many sessions do you plan to take in a week? How many of those sessions will be online, and how many will be in-person? What do you plan to include in the sessions? Since children are clearly not playing the game, what is the goal of the sessions you plan during this time? What safety measures are you putting in place? What precautions do you expect the kids and their parents to follow? How do you plan to handle a situation if there’s scare of a kid being positive? And so on.
While this may seem a little overwhelming, but this will ensure you and your team sail through this tough time, and are prepared for the normal again.
Happy InstaTeaming!

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Friday, 3 July 2020

Published Friday, July 03, 2020 with 1 comment

Social Media Tips For Coaches

Social media is a great tool, be it for connecting, promoting or simply informing. For youth sports coaches social media can do a lot more, like registering players, keeping players and parents informed of team activities, boosting team achievements, and keeping players and parents engaged.
Each social media platform has it set of customer-base, its own style of engagement and needs its own strategy. Here’s how you can harness the power of each social media platform to make coaching more productive.
On Facebook you must have a separate team page. You can choose between having either a “professional” page or a “fan” page. If you manage several teams, you might have to take a call on having a separate page for each team or clubbing it all together. Having a separate page for each team would mean managing that number of pages.
Facebook is a platform where mostly adults engage with their family and friends. So your audience largely is going to be parents of your players. Seeing that Facebook is more about visual content, you can post team pictures and videos on your page. Make sure these pictures and videos show activities of the team, rather than only the fun moments. Since parents are your real customers (ones paying for the coaching), you might want to show them the value of their dollars spent. Make sure you do highlight team achievements on Facebook.
Before you start a team page and start posting, get a consent signed by the parents, asking their accord to post their child’s name and pictures on the internet. This can be very vital in avoiding a potential legal complexity.
SnapChat is like the generation of 12-20 year olds today (the younger Gen Z and Gen Alpha), fast, brief, fleeting, and they totally relate to it. The picture or video you share on SnapChat auto expires on the receiving device after a few seconds.
Consider having a SnapChat account if you want to communicate with the kids. But keeping up with SnapChat, customizing content for youngsters, all of it can be quite daunting. But if you do feel the need to have a SnapChat account, it would perhaps be a good platformto send motivation messages, quotes with picture messages.
Twitter can be called the crisp version of Facebook. Although Twitter has recently increased the word limit, the messages should ideally be short, crisp and informative, because that’s the whole point of Twitter. This can be a good platform to post upcoming events, share achievements and accolades, and important updates. Ask the parents and players to follow you on Twitter for latest updates.

YouTube is a great platform for sharing videos. You can post a whole lot of stuff for youth sports – game moments, coaching tips, workout training and so on. YouTube videos help in SEO, which will make your club or team rank higher in Google search. YouTube is also a great platform for engagement for adults and kids alike, create content that engaging, creative and intriguing, leaving the viewers to come back for more.
You can use different social media channels to promote your other social media channel. There can be so much content that can go in, that this in itself can keep you engaged for a good chunk of the day, which may eventually affect your coaching and hence team performance. You will have to learn to strike a balance. Perhaps, a good idea would be to make a schedule for the day and set aside an hour or so for updating your social media feed, and spend the rest of the day doing your job. If you master the art of social media feed, you can take your club promotion to the next level. Social media is like the beast that needs to be tamed by continuously feed it, the more you feed, the more propitious it becomes. Although, posting on different channels can be quite daunting. Here’s where InstaTeam comes to your rescue.
InstaTeam brings different social media platforms in a single screen, which makes posting a whole lot easier and more convenient. Use InstaTeam to post team media, team photos, even live feed from a game. Happy posting.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Published Wednesday, July 01, 2020 with 0 comment

Managing Online Registration – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Online registrations are gradually becoming a norm, especially in youth sports. As sports clubs evolve their registration and administration processes to become digital, there still remains a gap in understanding and implementation of the digital process, be it registration or team management.
Platforms like InstaTeam have successfully made digitalization of team management easy and simple, both for the coach and the players, the coach including managers, administrators and athletic directors. Still, if not thought through, there can be technical glitches in the process, that can make the whole process frustrating and tiresome instead of easy and smooth.
Here are some common problems that can arise in the online registration process. Before you implement online registration, be sure you’ve taken these in to account.
  1. Password support
With so many digital accounts, usernames and passwords, it is common to lose the password. If the registration page does not include ‘forgot password’ support, like password retrieval and password reset facility, users may drop the very idea of registration. It is not just a technical glitch, but put off for customers who’d judge you right at the time of registration, the first step of the ladder.
  1. Over advertising
Advertising money can be very tempting for the club management. But that does not mean you get to overload your customers at the very beginning. Once the child is registered, there’ll be enough windows for advertising and money making. Now is not it.
  1. Hidden costs
When doing registration, stick to registration. You will have the kid and their parents associated for the club/team for good. At the time of registration, making this one commitment is important. Magazine subscription etc. can wait.
  1. Do not overcomplicate
Like mentioned before, online registration process has to be easy and simple. Ask basic question and not a lot of them. If you are doing it through website, the online registration link should be clearly visible on the home page. Terms and conditions should be instantly available. The whole process should not take more than 2 minutes or so.
Use InstaTeam
Taking into consideration all the points mentioned above, InstaTeam a platform that’s fast, easy and very convenient. Registrations in the team take just fraction of a minute, just some information, a few taps and you’re done. Not just registration, all processes of team management, including scheduling, communication, coordination, managing events, payments etc. all of it is designed to be easy, fast and convenient.

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