Does your club have a junior program that it can be proud of?
Are the vast majority of kids enjoying their time at your club?
A sustainable junior development program is the backbone of any social club's success. If juniors are happy, it sets the tone for not only junior success, but future senior success, as that is what these juniors transition into.
What constitutes a successful junior program? The key to social sports is having fun and creating memories with mates, so the backbone of any successful junior program is that the kids are enjoying themselves.
Results are all good and well, but the key word here is “development”. It doesn't entirely matter how good these kids are at a junior level, leading them in the right direction and giving them the potential to play senior sports at as high a level as they possibly can, should be the aim.
How is this done? Bringing in the right coaching is a must. Ask the potential candidates how they plan on developing each different individual, while also guiding them to playing a team game.
Are your facilities up to standard? Have a look at your competing teams/clubs. Are your facilities up to standard with theirs? If not, investing money into junior development is always a must, as if the facilities are more appealing elsewhere, chances are your club can lose players to your competitors.
How exactly do we improve our facilities? Can be anything simple such as investing in new balls and/or equipment.
If you want to stand out and appeal to more people in an attempt to gain new players while also making an improvement to training, there are many machines you can purchase depending on your sport (e.g., Bowling Machine for Cricket, Pro Trainer Soccer Machine for Soccer).
Equipment like this will help players develop their game to the next level, knowing what it takes to go further in their sporting career, while also making training more enjoyable.
What keeps kids wanting to play and develop? Obviously, the priority in junior sports at the grassroots level is making it enjoyable. Kids will only develop to their full potential if they enjoy the atmosphere around them.
Kids also enjoy being competitive. Not necessarily winning all the time, but if the team is losing frequently and by big margins, kids tend to lose interest very quickly, so it’s about finding that fine line between ensuring the kids are enjoying their sport, but also training them enough to a point they will be competitive.
Many different clubs use different methods when it comes to junior development. Every club is different, but that doesn't mean you and your club can't make the most of the resources you have and ensure that your juniors develop, giving your club a bright future.