How to Run a Table Tennis Club
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Running a table tennis club can be a very rewarding experience, but you need to be careful to do things right. Here are some things to consider.
- Location. Where will you run your club? Is there a school gym you can get access to? A church? You don't necessarily need a gym, any large room with suitable floors can work.
- Getting Tables. Will you purchase new tables, or used? Will you get the expensive high-end tables or more economical options? If you plan to attract high-level players, you'll need to the expensive professional tables.
- Insurance. Clubs need to have insurance. If someone gets injured on the premises, the club may be found legally liable, so protect yourself with insurance.
- Association Membership. Will you register your club with the provincial, state or national table tennis association? See what benefits there are to joining.
- Membership Costs. What will you charge members? Consider a one-time drop-in fee (like $5) and a seasonal fee for the year or several months. Will junior players get a lower cost?
- Club Rules. Set some club rules and remind players to follow them so things will run more smoothly.
- Policy and Procedures. (Similar to rules) Most states (in Australia, check with your local authorities) require clubs to have policy in place outlining what would happen when certain issues arise. These policies advise and provide a common ground for the expectations of members and staff of the club. Some states require certain policies to be in place as a minimum and to ensure this is complied with, clubs are ineligible to apply for government funding unless proof of the policies is shown.
Along with each policy, a procedure may also be required. The procedure outlines what steps are taken by the club and by a member should they find themself in a situation that is covered by a policy. (eg: A club may have a player injury insurance policy and a procedure is also provided under the policy to give club staff and members a step by step process to follow in order to make a claim under the insurance policy)
- Coaches. A club needs to have a coach (or coaches and possibly some trainers) to help players improve their skills should they want to.
- Competition. Everybody loves competition as it is a way of measuring one's advancement. What types of competition should your club offer to its members? In some parts of the world, people consider table tennis as just a fun game to play to pass time. If your club has players like this, holding a competition that requires every letter of the rule book to be followed may push these players away. A competition designed around participants commitment level is often a good idea, along with a graded competition for more serious players. Consider targetting other areas of the community for competitions in order to help with promotion and broadening your membership. (eg: holding a corporate business competition, schools competition)
- Marketing. Unless people know your club exists, they will not even turn up to play. Marketing your club through community channels (school newsletters, local authority websites, local event websites, bulletin boards in shopping centres, social media) is the most cost effective way to market. Radio, Newspaper and TV commercials are also effective but come with a cost. Writing an article (about player success in competition, new competition commencement etc) and submitting it to the local papers (with a photo whenever possible) is another great way to increase awareness of your club.
Demonstration days (in local shopping centres or at local events) and "Come and Try" days held at the club facility are another means of getting people into your club's doors and often very effective, as watching table tennis being played is very hypnotic and looks so easy when the players have a good skill level.
- Fundraising. Inevitably, your club will need to fundraise to help in things such as upgrading equipment, improving the facility or perhaps help a high level player get to a state/national/international level tournament. What avenues can your club take to do this?
- Sponsorship. Another method for raising funds for the club. Approach local businesses and ask for sponsorship. Remember, business is business and asking for free money will usually be rejected. Offer something from the club in return for sponsorship. For example:
Ask for sponsorship for a tournament be named after the sponsor (The event will be named "Joe's Diner Open Tournament" and Joe's Diner will be mentioned as the primary sponsor during the presentations and all speeches given by the club president on the day, Joe's Diner advertising will be freely available throughout the facility [provided by Joe's Diner])
Offer a business to sponsor a court in the club facility. Courts that are sponsored by a business give the business the right to display advertising signage on the outside of the court.
- Accessibility. Is your club accessible to all members of the community, including those in wheelchairs and the elderly etc? Is it possible to offer extra services at your club to enable people that may not otherwise be able to participate (eg: child minding service for mum's while at the centre participating in competition. Ensuring your club is inclusive and accessible will once again make it more appealing to a wider audience and encourage them to encourage others they may know in similar circumstance to come play.
There are lots of things to consider. If you know of any more, please add them to the list.
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