Switching From Paper to Digital Youth Sports Registration

The Jersey Watch Team

Parents are busy. Balancing work, life, kids, and other responsibilities, they’re pressed to find the time to get their children to participate in organized youth sports. However, the benefits of competition — discipline, teamwork, and physical fitness — make worthwhile for families to fit into their schedules.

Setting up a simple registration is a critical component of the entire youth sports experience. But unfortunately for parents and volunteers, many organizations still rely on pen and paper for registration. It's now more important than ever for youth sports organizations to deliver a streamlined experience for parents to register their kids to play.

There are many benefits to moving to a digital registration system - for both volunteers and for parents. Parents can now register their kids for multiple sports teams in a matter of minutes from any device. It is also easier to keep track of registration payments. Digital efficiency makes managing your teams far simpler and frees up time for you to focus on some of those other balls you are busy juggling in your busy schedule.

In this post we've got a few benefits and tips to migrate your organization from paper to digital registration before your next season!

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    The Inefficiencies of Paper-Based Youth Sports Registration Systems

    Managing Registration Forms and Physical Payments

    For decades youth sports organizations were required to manage hundreds of paper registration forms, tens of thousands of dollars in cash and checks, and distribute physical copies of flyers, game schedules, and more before the season.

    As leagues grew, maintaining accurate information was impossible. Constant trips to the bank, lost registration forms, and messy handwriting led to dozens of wasted volunteer hours and frustrated parents. Getting ready for the following season and transitioning new board members could be a nightmare if the previous season's lists were lost.

    Due to the physical nature of the old school registration process, volunteers and coaches often spent all of their time organizing paperwork and keying data into spreadsheets, and less time where it really matters, out on the field.

    In the worst cases, collecting cash and checks led to widespread fraud in youth sports - with non profits often reporting thousands of dollars missing after their season.

    Human error also creeps into manual record-keeping processes. The more people involved in the completion of a document, the more chances there are for mistakes to happen. Lost registration forms are common in the world of paper registration forms.

    If you've run a youth sports organization you've probably found yourself buried in paperwork a few times.

    A Constant Lack of Communication

    Communication is another important area that was severely hamstrung by dated manual processes. Managing contact information for parents and coaches was difficult. Keeping one central location for hundreds of names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails could only be done manually by entering information into a spreadsheet database.

    Promoting each season was difficult - the best thing you could do was post signage across town or send home flyers from school to players homes - hoping that kids would actually get the flyer home to their parent.

    Do any of the issues with paper registration sound familiar? The good news is that switching to online registration for your youth sports program is a fast process and should just take an hour or two before your next season starts.

    The Benefits of Online Registration Systems For Youth Sports

    Streamlining Player Information and Payments

    The biggest advantage of switching to online registration is the efficiency of managing player information and payments.

    Online registration systems allow you to customize your registration form to include all of the necessary information you need to know about each player. Information like uniform sizes, date of birth, school, and more can be added to your form so parents can easily register players. You don't have to worry about illegible handwriting or parents skipping mandatory questions.

    Customizing and editing your form is much easier in a digital system than with paper registration.

    After registration, player information can be sorted or exported to a spreadsheet. You can also divide up player information based upon age group, location, or experience level. Organizing player information in an online system makes it much easier to share player contact information with coaches before the season.

    Finally, parents get the freedom to register when they want from home. They don't have to show up at the designated location in a small window - they can register from their couch on their phone when they have a few minutes. This makes it much easier for your organization to register more players and improve the experience for your participants.

    Advanced Features to Help with Payment Management

    Online payments have grown drastically in recent years. Parents expect that they should be able to pay for all of their child's activities using a credit or debit card. Organizations that don't offer online payments risk losing parents that choose to register their kids for more convenient activities.

    Some online registration systems also can allow for flexible payment terms like installment or payment plans. The organization knows the date that payments will be collected, and parents get a little more flexibility to pay the full balance of the season fees.

    Installment plans help give parents flexibility to make payments, while also helping to make sure that organizations get funds for the season on time.

    Online payments can also completely eliminate the need to make trips to the bank. Volunteers can manage deposits completely online and monitor deposits throughout registration. These payments also come with lower payment risks than the more traditional, manual payment options as “bounced checks” become a thing of the past.

    Improved Communication with Parents, Coaches, and Your Community

    Storing, sorting, and managing contact information for hundreds of players is out of the question if you're using paper registration forms.

    Online registration systems can store and manage contact information for your organization automatically. Saving contact information from season to season becomes much easier.

    Collecting and storing contact information becomes much easier when you switch from paper to online registration.

    Increased Fundraising Opportunities

    Fundraising can be a lot of work at your sports organization. Many leagues dedicate an entire committee to fundraising and sponsorships, and still fall short of their fundraising goals.

    The first step in getting more donations and sponsorships is to make it easy for people to contribute to the organization. With online registration systems, you can give registrants the option to make a contribution at checkout, and add the appropriate amount to their total. Just adding a simple question at the end of your form can make a big increase in overall dollars raised.

    Insert fundraising options into your registration form to increase support before your season.

    Building Your Team’s Online Registration System

    If you run a youth sports organization, managing paper forms and physical payments should be a thing of the past. Making the transition to a digital sports registration software streamlines payments, manages player info, and improves overall organization communication.

    Before your next season you should start setting up your online registration form template. Including all of the key questions in your form makes it super easy to manage player info, sort contact information after registration, organize payments, and even raise money from potential donors and sponsors. Switching to an online platform will also make parents happy, save time, and help to increase participation.

    Have questions about migrating your registration process? Send us a message at help@jerseywatch.com - we'd be happy to help!

    Additional Resources

    A Complete Youth Sports Registration Form Template

    How to Build a Website for a Youth Sports Program

    Clean Communication: 5 Tips to Improve Your Team's Organization and Structure

    The Benefits of All-In-One Sports Team Management Software

    5 Powerful Tools to Collect Youth Sports Donations