Volleyball clubs can become successful small businesses or valuable non-profits in the community. And a well-run club can also be a huge asset for young volleyball players in your region - providing growth opportunities for both players and coaches.
If you feel there aren't enough club teams in your area, or you just have a passion for the sport and want to dedicate some free time to coaching, starting a new club can be a great option. But, the steps required to get a club up and running can be daunting.
How do you start a new volleyball club? Follow these 8 steps to get your club off the ground.
STEP 1 - Build a Small Team of Coaches and Volunteers
Don't go it alone! Even if you just have a few friends that you've coached or played with, or a spouse that has some extra free time, recruit several other people to help you get started. You need to make sure you don't try to do all of the work yourself.
You don't necessarily have to pay the staff in the first season, it can be an all volunteer group if your club will be small and locally based initially. If you're starting a more competitive club, paying coaches will be important to recruit a high quality staff.
As your club grows in future years you could build in yearly stipends or salaries for staff members.
When you begin to build your staff you should clarify goals and tactics with your coaches & staff so that everyone is on the same page. The coaches and staff should agree on the answers to key questions like:
- What age groups will your club initially be supporting?
- Where and when will practices take place?
- Will you be recruiting highly competitive players or focusing on younger players and skill development?
- What time commitment will be expected of staff members and coaches? How much travel will be involved?
Once you've recruited a small staff, work with the group to begin Step 2.
STEP 2 - Build Your Volleyball Club's Brand
Even before you've fully committed to starting your club, you can name the club and begin to build a brand. You should work with the other coaches and volunteers to build a list of potential names.
Tips When Choosing a Name for the Club
- Try to find a unique name. For example, there are dozens of clubs in the US & Canada named "Spike" or "Revolution". If your name is not unique, it will be tougher for parents and players to find you online when searching. Try to come up with a name that is somewhat unique, or at least similar to only a few other clubs in the country. You can find out if a potential name is already taken just by searching on Google.
- If possible, include your City or Region where your club is based in the name. This can help when parents and players are searching on Google for clubs in your region and when finding a domain name for your club's website.
- Make sure the name is easy for people to spell, don't get too crazy by including extra letters or overthinking the spelling. You want your club name to be easy to spell and pronounce.
Getting a Logo for your Volleyball Club
Getting a logo and color scheme for your club is a big step. You'll want to get a quality logo that you can use for at least several years.
In many cases it's not too difficult to find a volunteer designer to create a logo for your club. You can also get high quality logos by posting a job on sites like Upwork or Freelancer for just $100 or so.
When creating a new logo it's important to have several variations and formats you can use for different purposes.
- Your logo should have a few color versions and a black and white version. One color version should be in your main color and one in a secondary color. Having several variations can help with uniform, apparel, and website, design options in the future.
- You should have a version of your logo with no text, and a version of your logo with text - the name of your club and a short slogan if you'd like.
- Store your logo variations so they can be used over the next few years. If you have a designer create your logo for you, they should send you all of the Vector Files and Working Files of the logo so they can be changed in the future if needed.
A strong brand for your new club can build immediately credibility with coaches, parents, and players.
Set Up Social Media Accounts for the Club
Every volleyball club should have a Facebook Page. Even if you don't use Facebook personally, a page for your club will be a key marketing channel for your teams. Facebook skews towards parents (moms love Facebook!), so it's a great place to focus on posting information about your club.
An active Facebook page with lots of content and user comments can also have a big impact on Google Search results. Becoming one of the top listed clubs on Google in your region is critical if you want your club to increase in popularity in your area.
Your volleyball club also needs an Instagram Account. The reality is that more of your players will spend time on Instagram instead of Facebook. Use Instagram as the primary channel to post photos and for players to interact with one another.
Posting just a few times to your Instagram account per week in the first few months. As your staff grows, you can assign one coach or administrator to take charge of social media responsibilities for the club.
Are you new to social media or don't use it personally? Follow these quick tips on How to get your first 100 followers on Instagram.
- Long term, a YouTube Channel can be helpful to post tournament highlights, coaching how-tos, and season highlight videos. YouTube can be an effective way to build credibility for your coaching staff, particularly if you want to build nationally competitive teams.
- You can also establish a Mission and Vision for your club that can go on your social media accounts. The Mission and Vision can help newcomers understand where your club is headed.
- The more online content your club has, the bigger your "engine" will be when people are searching for clubs in your region on Google.
STEP 3 - Register Your Business or Begin Your Non-Profit Application
Before your club begins to grow, you need to register your business with the IRS. Don't worry, it should be a quick process!
If you'll be the one person primarily responsible for your club initially, you will probably just be a Sole Proprietorship in the eyes of the IRS. A Sole Proprietorship will be super quick to set up and you'll just use your personal information and be personally responsible for taxes on any profits from the club.
In future years you can reclassify as a Partnership, an LLC, or a 501(c)(3) as your club grows. You can learn more about options here > Choosing Your Business Structure.
If you expect to run the club as a non-profit, you'll eventually want to register as a 501(c)(3) so that the club is tax exempt. A 501(c)(3) is deemed a charitable organization by the goverment, and are not required to pay federal taxes on earnings.
A few of the basic requirements your volleyball club will need to meet to qualify as a 501(c)(3) are:
- Three years of existence before applying.
- Any profits must be re-invested in the club.
- Sole purpose is to "meet public needs", or in your case grow the game of volleyball.
- No one person can benefit from the club financially.
- Completing and updating your 501(c)(3) documentation on a yearly basis.
Once your club has existed for 3+ years and you want to apply for 501(c)(3) status head here - Application for 501(c)(3).
Filing your LLC or 501(c)(3) paperwork may seem like a lot of work - but you should definitely do it. It will just take a few hours but will save you a lot of hassle in the long run, especially as your club grows.
After you register your business you'll need to officially register your club with USA Volleyball so your teams are eligible for events. Find which of the 40 USA Volleyball Regions that your club will fit into, and visit your region's website to register your new club.
STEP 4 - Set Up a Bank Account and Initial Budgets
Opening a Bank Account
Now that you've named your club and set up your LLC or 501(c)(3) you can open a bank account.
Opening a separate bank account has a lot of advantages. Even if you'll just be running a small club at first you should still set up separate banking for your club - don't use your personal bank account.
Never set up a business bank account? Learn Why Having a Business Bank Account is Important.
You can probably set up your account entirely online without ever visiting a branch. Make sure your bank has online access and a mobile app so you can easily access everything you need while traveling to tournaments and events.
You also need to be able issue debit cards to staff members quickly, and cancel individual debit cards if staff members move on. To keep things easy get debit cards for all of the coaches and staff members so you don't have to worry about a bunch of paperwork tracking expenses, causing frustration, etc.
Managing all of your club finances online will help save time throughout the year.
Budgeting for Your First Season
Determining how much it will cost to fund your club in the first season can be tough since you don't have data from previous seasons.
If you have coaching experience or have helped run other clubs in the past you should have a good idea of facility, apparel, tournament, and travel expenses. You'll definitely want to spend some time estimating how much your tournament fees will cost the club in your first season.
Decide if your club will cover all or some of the travel costs for teams, or if players will pay for their own travel and hotels.
At first, a simple spreadsheet will probably work well to help budget. Find a budget template that you can use to build out a plan for your season. As your club grows you can look into using simple accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero to help manage expenses.
STEP 5 - Create a Website and Online Payment Options
Building a Website for Your Volleyball Club
Social media accounts are a great place to start to generate interest in your club, build your brand, post photos, and interact with potential players. But before your first season you need a Website to serve as the "hub" for all of the information about your club.
General information about your club including team ages / names, coaching staff bios, and tryout dates should be listed prominently on your site. Any photos of your first events and mission statements are also great content to help you get started.
A well organized website can be a big asset for your club.
Some other items you can post on your Website as you grow:
- College Commitments from previous players - testimonials and player photos work great to build your club's reputation
- Team Accomplishments - don't hesitate to promote your success!
- Fee Details and Payment Due Dates
- Team Photos from Previous Seasons
Setting up a website for the first time? Learn more in our post How to Build a Club Volleyball Website.
Collecting Registration & Payments Online
A key feature of any club volleyball website is the ability to register players and collect payments online. Online registration and payment is a great way to get players registered for tryouts and to collect all of you club fees for your season.
Parents will prefer to pay with card, especially for large expenses like club fees. Online payments will also save you and your coaches a ton of time so you aren't chasing down payments after your season starts, or constantly tracking who owes what.
So make sure that you're offering the option for players to pay all of their fees online - don't require parents write checks. You can even offer flexible payment plans so that parents can pay in installments instead of paying for the fees all at once.
Many clubs offer the option for players to pay their fees in full, or choose installments spread out over a few months.
STEP 6 - Schedule Initial Events and Tryouts
Running a free event like a 2-day camp or weekend sand tournament can help generate interest in your club and get the word out. Events in the summer can be a great way to prepare players for the high school season and get them acquainted with your new club and coaches.
Your first events can be free or have a very low cost to players. Focus on building a fun environment to generate interest. If you can, collect email addresses from parents so you can send tryout details and notifications at a later date.
If you haven't already, get in touch with high school coaches and make them aware of your new club. Encourage them to promote your club as an offseason option for their players. You and your coaches should be reaching out to any contacts in the volleyball community to help get toe word out!
STEP 7 - Post Rosters and Lock In Your Schedules
Now the fun begins - the season is almost here. After tryouts you should begin to extend offers and finalize your rosters as quickly as possibly.
Set expectations before releasing tryout results with parents and players. Here are a few tips:
- Post tryout results on your website when they become available. Everyone should receive an email from your Director or their Head Coach when results are available.
- Be available to answer questions via email and respond quickly if parents have concerns. Give feedback and advice to players who don't make the team.
- Be clear about expectations on team acceptance for each player. Players and parents should know how long they have to commit, when their first payment is due, and when initial team meetings will take place well ahead of time.
Once you've got commitments from players you can also officially begin to register for tournaments. It's possibly you'll want parents to pay a deposit to reserve their spot on the team so that you can begin to register teams for tournaments.
Parents need to know well in advance of your season when they'll need to attend tournaments. If you can publish team schedules before tryouts begin it will be a huge help for players evaluating your club.
If you've never registered for tournaments you can begin doing research well in advance online. Get started at the links below:
- Search for your USA Volleyball Region for a list of events in your area.
STEP 8 - Plan for the Future to Grow Your Volleyball Club
As you're probably already aware, running a successful club can be a year-round job. Even in your first year you should be making plans for the long term. Make sure to clarify club goals with your Assistant Directors, Coaches, and even parents of your current players.
You can also ask yourself a few questions as you embark on your first season:
- What are the goals for the club 1, 3, and 5 years from now?
- What role(s) do I need on my staff to help grow the club? Do you need more coaches to help build the club or someone with operations experience to help you with budgeting so you can focus on coaching?
- Is this a club that I want to run for more than 5 years? Or just a few years?
As your first season gets started you can begin to build a vision for future years. Do you want to grow your club to have 20+ teams and create a full-time work opportunity for yourself? Or do you prefer to have a smaller regional club that you run as a non-profit?
What's Next for Your Club?
At Jersey Watch we help volleyball clubs build a website to promote teams, register players, manage payments, and communicate throughout the year.
If you’d like to get started you can visit our website, or send us a message at email@example.com!