With more than an estimated 41 million American children participating in competitive formalized sports, the social system of youth sports has become more complex with the increased involvement of parents and other adult administrators and coaches (Hilgers, 2006). While the programs will continue to grow into the future, it is vital to find a way that the sports directors and coaches can increase the likelihood that the outcome of participation will be favorable for the child’s physical, cognitive, and social development. Creating a strategic plan for your youth sports organization will encourage the use of short and long term planning to standardize the experience for all participants and families.
Creating and implementing a strategic plan at the youth sports level allows the leadership to establish an environment of effective and efficient top-down administration. A quality strategic plan will demonstrate to the members of the youth sports group that the organization has a direction for future activities and understands their role as the facilitator for a quality program. In a study by Armstrong (1982), he concluded that organizations that performed formal planning were superior to organizations that perform no formal planning. Of vital importance within a strategic plan is the transparency of the plan that allows the group to know the future path to organization success.
Creating a strategic plan is a meticulous process where the correct procedure must be followed to compose a usable document. Steps towards success include the following:
- The initial phase of strategic planning is defining a purpose and reason for being which will act as the mission and vision of the organization. (Yow et al., 2000). The development of these items for the organization clarifies to all members of the board what the plan will attempt accomplish.
- Assessment of the internal and external environment must take place next. Exploring the internal and external environment of the organization involves evaluating the environment within which the organization operates. After the information is gathered about each environment, the group of people constructing the strategic plan need to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within a SWOT analysis.
- Establishing objectives within the strategic plan is the next step towards completion. Objectives are written measurable statements that provide a focus as to what is to be accomplished in important areas over a certain time period (Yow et al., 2000).
- Strategy, which is the course of action taken by an organization to achieve its objectives, is then created to accomplish each set of objectives. Effective strategy construction and execution will link rhetoric, choices, and actions into a coherent and consistent pattern across levels, functions, and time.
- Finally, the operational plans are formulated for each strategy. The operational plan is extremely specific stating who is responsible for completing the plan and when the action must start and end (Yow et al., 2000).
The youth sport organization that fully understands where they are going, how they are getting there, and what each person involved in the organization is expected to accomplish will lead the group to pull together to become motivated and work successfully using the strategic plan (Doherty & Carron, 2003).
One of the most in-depth examples of a quality sport organization strategic plan is put forth by Baseball Canada and can be seen by CLICKING HERE. The document provides the expectations, objectives, strategies, operational plans, and who performs the tasks to better organize Baseball Canada. When youth sport organizations are organized in a uniform and detailed manner, group success is more likely the outcome.
Strategic planning is important to the success of youth sports organizations. The increased ability to have a plan that is structured and create an environment of consistent decisions based upon the strategic plan should be what all organizations want to establish. Removing any type of political or emotional decision making from the youth sports scene would be a great trend to establish and continue pursuing. As strategic planning grows, greater successes will be seen in organizational effectiveness as well as in the enjoyment of the sport for the youth participating in the organization.
Need assistance in creating a strategic plan for your team or organization? Contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org for the successful development of a specific plan for your group.
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Armstrong, J. S. (1982). The value of formal planning for strategic decisions: Review of empirical research. Strategic Management Journal, 3(3), 197-211.
Doherty, A. J., & Carron, A. V. (2003). Cohesion in volunteer sport executive committees. Journal of Sport Management, 17, 116-141.
Hilgers, L (2006, July 3). Youth sports drawing more than ever. CNN U.S. Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2006-07-03/us/rise.kids.sports_1_youth-sports-tennis-lessons-kids?_s=PM:US
Yow, D. A., Migliore, R. H., Bowden, W. W., Stevens, R. E., & Louden, D. L. (2000). Strategic planning for collegiate athletics. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.