Junior Program Health – Keeping Score with the important numbers!

In a past life I was the world’s worst trainee accountant. I apologize now if I ever did your books when I spent three tortuous years looking at only figures. Luckily, Looking at number alone was a big challenge for me, my creative brain didn’t naturally gravitate to numbers, but like most things if you can see beyond them you can get excited about what they mean.

Working with clubs and organisations to improve and develop their programs , always involves looking at numbers as a measure and seeing if, just like coaching a player, we are making improvements, but understanding the numbers that matter is even more crucial. Some of these programs boast incomes of million dollars and some just tens of thousands but the numbers I use to evaluate them are still the same.

One .. How many kids in the program?

Don’t get excited just by this one. Although it is great to see the bottom line growing and this is a nice indicator that you are on the right track it is not as much an indicator of long term quality as you think.  For the purposes of this exercise (and just to make the maths easy) let’s say you have a program with 100 kids! 100

Two … How many spaces are filling each week?

This is a better indicator than One above! It gives you an idea of how many players are coming more often. For example, if you have 100 kids in the program but have 150 places filled in your program then the average kid is coming 1.5 times per week. Try to improve this number over time. So you have  1.5 but imagine the energy that you would have if this was 1.8 (this means most kids are coming at least twice a week)

Three … How many kids actually compete?

Don’t assume this is national events or every representing the club. Does your program have simple events for kids to play on a monthly or bi-monthly basis? Are the kids playing them? If you know how many kids played three or more events, then you have some idea of if your lessons are creating players who play the game. Let’s say we have 35 of our kids who played 3 or more events. Not great but a good start that we can build from.    So your starting number is 35%

Four … How many kids stay?

Retention is a better indicator of quality than participation. If you have 100 kids and you lose 40 kids each year then you have an average program. But if you have 60 kids and you only lose 3 then you probably have a better one. Size is not an indicator of quality really but if you have the capacity and it’s not filling up maybe you need to invest in some better marketing. So, each term / session count how many players leave the program and then … find out why! You can’t fix a leak unless you take the time to find out where it is coming from! Keeping 90% is very good!  Big tick if you get 90%

Five … Progression or Graduation!

If you have a good kids program you probably have a few levels that the kids are moving through. You should track graduation from program level to level. For example, if in our 100 kid program 20 moved up then you have 20% graduation number.  Find out what the mean number is on this but be aware that you can easily create bottlenecks in your program if your numbers suddenly jump or fall!

Winning Every Day

Obviously the nature of different facilties is that some have all year round programs, some lose kids to fall sports and some have other influencing factors but we are talking here about kids that play and stay which means they are committed to our game. The other thing to consider is that your score is just a starting point. Obviously if you are not happy with the numbers you should work to discover how you could improve them but more than this just try to see that your numbers are heading in the right direction. You are unlikely to be able to change the numbers overnight but focussing on the right things can help ensure that you keep growing and winning little by little every day!

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