Managing a youth sports team can be quite a daunting task these days. In youth soccer there can be many different forms to fill out, payments that need to be collected, snack schedules to create, tracking who can make it to various team events (practices, matches, tournaments, parties, etc), and much more. In our league, we’ve almost mandated that coaches recruit team managers, even for U5/U6 teams of only 7 players. It allows the coaches to spend more time coaching, and also ensures the team administration is handled in a thorough manner. All too often a coach has enough things to worry about and ignores team administration until they simply can’t. This doesn’t help anyone.

While a number of leagues use software packages to manage their player and team information, some lack tools to help team managers – they are primarily for the administration of the league itself (registration, schedules, etc.) Others are more complete, but can be very expensive, so many smaller sports leagues just do without and let the managers do their own thing.

So many teams have no tools provided to them to help manage the team. However, a number of companies are starting to offer team oriented tools allowing managers and/or coaches to manage an individual team.

teamsnap_logo.jpgOne of these tools is called TeamSnap. TeamSnap is a web based software package that allows you to manage just about any type of sports team online. It provides a number of tools to help your team administration go smoothly:

  1. Team Home Page – This provides a nice portal type page for your team including links to the various tools as well as team information, upcoming events, etc.
  2. Rosters – Allows you to manage the team roster and track player information (name, address, email and phone, positions, pictures, etc. Players are listed in a nice summary format.
  3. Schedules – You can manage multiple schedules for things like games, practices, and other events. Locations can be linked to online maps/directions.
  4. Availability – There’s no worse feeling as a coach than going to a match and having half the team not show up. Using this tool, players parents can indicate which events they can’t make ahead of time, allowing you to easily prepare or reschedule, etc.
  5. Payments – This is nicely done – you can create multiple payments (league fees, team trophies, tournament fees, etc.) and track payment of each by player. All the team members can see the statuses, so it can provide some peer pressure to get payments in – though that might not sit well with every manager. Hopefully this can be optionally turned off (i.e. only the coach/manager can see payment status)
  6. Messaging – This is often an area some packages do poorly. TeamSnap’s implementation is decent. It’s a single threaded forum type setup where the most recent messages show up first (though manager messages stay up top for additional prominence). You can also email messages to the entire team. I think this is a good mid level messaging implementation that will work for most teams.
  7. Pictures – You gotta have pictures! Here you can create a gallery of team pictures with captions. Having some type of album ability so you could group the pictures from various events would be a great addition.
  8. Statistics – Older teams especially like to keep statistics. They can also be a useful tool for coaches trying to track how players are doing, though it can backfire causing players to be selfish trying to ‘boost their stats’ above their buddies. But that said, this is a nice implementation allowing teams to track any statistic they want, so you could get creative and track stuff like sportsmanship, defensive stops, whatever your imagination dreamed up. Could be a fun. The ability to create calculated columns from two other statistics (goals per game, etc.) is very nice.
  9. Refreshments – This is a great way to create a snack schedule – because it’s all about the snacks at the end of a match! I personally am wondering if it’s worth having it’s own tab vs. being integrated into the schedules tab/view. One feature that would be wonderful would be an email reminder setup that sent an email reminder a set number of days before an event, reminding the parent to bring snacks.

Overall I think TeamSnap is a very solid package for managing an individual sports team. It provides most of the ‘must have’ team management features in a nicely designed and easy to use format. The tabbed layout is very intuitive and easy to use. The system is currently in beta, so you can currently try it out for free. They talk about pricing from free with banner ads to $9.95/month for the premium version. $10/month is a bit steep for an individual team, but I expect some teams will want the added customization ability. I didn’t see a lot to differentiate the $6.95 plan from the $9.95 plan, but they are still working out the specifics of each. I’d suggest some type of static web page ability for the premium package would set it apart. Not a full blown CMS, but rather the ability to create a few static HTML pages using a WYSIWYG editor like Xinha, etc.

I think TeamSnap has made an excellent debut with their product. I’ve designed the league management system our soccer league uses from the ground up, so I’ve got some background in what’s involved in managing sports leagues and teams. TeamSnap is built on Ruby on Rails – an excellent web application framework which I’m also using for the next generation of our league’s system. It’s a solid design choice.

If your league doesn’t have a system in place that gives you the tools needed to manage a team online, definitely give TeamSnap a look. Their FAQ notes that a ‘League’ level version is also in the works. They’ve clearly taken a solid first step with their team oriented system.

I Give TeamSnap 4.5 Nets ->  net4.5.gif

UPDATE: I totally forgot to mention this. Be sure to read their ‘testimonials’. They’re hilarious.

Disclaimer: I’m not involved with TeamSnap in any way and do not currently use it for managing my teams (our league has it’s own in-house system). I was asked by TeamSnap to take a look at it, I liked what I saw, and felt it worthy of a review. I received no compensation of any kind for writing this review.