Looking for ways to grow your local league program? Here are some suggestions:
Reach out to other Youth Programs and Organizations
- Reach out to other youth organizations, i.e., soccer or basketball leagues, in the area to engage in cross-promotion of your clubs or leagues. Ask them to pass out fliers and announce your registration dates near the end of their season and agree to do the same for them.
- Ask local schools and churches if they can include your registration information in their newsletters and email blasts.
- Ask schools if you can promote your league at school functions and events by handing out flyers or sending them home with students.
Early Registration Incentives/Payment Options
- Offer a discounted price for early registrations.
- Give discounts or free sign-us to families who are new to your league.
- Provide incentives to families for bringing in new participants such as discounted registrations or free play for their child.
- Use Sports Illustrated Play for Online Registration, giving parents the option to pay by e-check or credit card.
- Set up a payment program so parents can spread out payments, especially after the holidays when money might be tight.
- Hold raffles, prize giveaways at registration (free registration, gear-related items or gift cards kids can use to buy a new glove, bat or other equipment.
- Run an equipment swap or sale during registration.
- Hold registration at a local restaurant or sporting goods stores, where families who register can get a discount.
- Provide free registrations to those families who can’t afford the cost of sports, making up the revenue through fundraisers, concessions and sponsorships from local businesses, corporations, etc.
- Turn registrations into fun events by filling them with activities. Perhaps obtain a retired professional athlete in the community or college players to run a clinic. Have food and prizes donated by local businesses.
Set up Sports-Free Weekends and School Vacations
- To allow for family weekends and vacations, schedule some sports-free weekends, Sundays or school vacation periods.
- Post a banner at your fields.
- Set up a Facebook page.
- Post brightly colored fliers at popular local businesses.
- Hold events where parents can meet the volunteers who work behind the scenes to run the local league program.
- If possible, ask your current players and coaches to wear their baseball t-shirts to school or work one day.
There are also several other ways to strengthen your League programs.
Establishing critical mass to insure a consistent and viable program and schedule involves one or a combination of, three basic strategies.
- Increase enrollment from within your boundaries
- Expand your boundaries
- Interlock schedules with neighboring leagues
Increase enrollment from within your boundaries
It appears that there is a huge untapped pool of potential players. The key is to first discover what keeps them away. Is it just a lack of interest in competitive sports, or, are many perhaps uncertain of their qualifications? There are several proven techniques to expand participation.
The first and most obvious is better communication. Work through the schools, local papers, and even letters to parents, explaining your program, objectives, and benefits.
Second, make sure your league offers a program for all young players – Babe Ruth Softball, Cal Ripken Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball.
Expand Your Boundaries
If you need to increase your critical mass and a neighboring community is not already involved with Babe Ruth League, use the winter months to recruit them into your program. Chances are good that they are experiencing the same problems that you have and by combining, you will both benefit.
Use your District or State Commissioners to help recruit target towns. It is part of their job description, and by participating in an exploratory meeting with prospective communities, can show the strengths and advantages of Babe Ruth League.
Expansion by boundary extension will encounter one of two situations
- Either the target community will have a program in place, or they won't. If they do not, just petition your State Commissioner to include that community within your boundaries, and upon approval, begin player recruitment.
- If the town already has a program, there will be some infrastructure in place. In this situation, you would be best served by forming an open board with representation from all participating communities. Each community can submit teams and cover their own expenses such as equipment and uniforms. General costs, such as charter fees, state dues, tournament fees, etc., can be portioned out on a per team pro-rated basis.
Interlock schedules with neighboring leagues
This strategy does not help you with critical mass, but it will allow you to expand your schedule and make the season more interesting. Remember one thing though. If you are playing with another league that is not chartered with Babe Ruth, those games will not count towards your minimum 10 games for tournament eligibility.
Help is Available
Your District or State Commissioner is available to help you form your expansion strategies. They may already be targeting communities for new charters and this could fit in well with your expansion requirements. They can also be a spokesperson, representing the Babe Ruth state organization to help draw new communities into the family.