Financial reasons are the number one barrier keeping kids from playing youth sports. Like you, our mission is to get more kids on the field, court, or rink. If your organization offers free programming to give more kids the chance to play, we are here to support you.

With Mobile-First Registration, you can set up completely free programs, meaning there is no additional service fee. Here are 4 great ways to utilize this feature and get more kids out to play.

1. Sandlot Seasons & Pick-Up Games.

We all know the sad feeling of the regular season ending, potentially leaving kids with weeks or even months of no scheduled sports. One great way to keep players active is with a sandlot season or pick-up games. These tend to be more casual games and offer a great opportunity for kids to learn the sport, get more practice in a no-pressure setting, and include kids who might be left out of the regular season due to financial reasons.

Read how one local softball league used sandlot games to safely get kids back on the field after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

2. Free Play

Free play is important for kids’ development. This type of activity is unorganized (not a specific sport or game) and the activity is led by the kids rather than the volunteers, coaches, or parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Ample opportunity for free play is necessary, especially in the preschool and elementary school years when the basic skills needed for organized sports are being developed and combined.”

Between seasons is a great time to offer supervised free play opportunities for kids who might not otherwise have an outlet while also enabling kids to develop skills they will need for the season.

3. Special Events

Throughout the year, many organizations host special events such as fundraisers, memorial games, or fun match-ups. These fall outside of the regular season schedule and may be free to participate, but still require registration. The summer is a great time to use the free program feature to host a fundraiser game as leagues across the country financially recover from 2020 cancellations.

4. Gauge Interest

The free program feature can also be used for gauging interest in your regular season. This is a great way to get a headcount and gather player information without collecting payment or requiring a commitment. This can be especially useful if you are waiting to see when COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in your area and as youth sports slowly return to play in 2021.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you set up a free program within Sports Connect. 

  • National Governing Body integrations are not available, meaning any data collected will not be shared with your governing body.
  • This is truly a $0 option, meaning the division price is locked at $0 and discounts, fees, and payment options cannot be added. You will not be able to transfer players from a free program to a paid program, and cancellation fees cannot be applied on the Order Detail page.
  • Team building and scheduling are not available, but you CAN still create divisions.
  • There is a limit of three program questions allowed per program. This includes custom and standard questions.

Free programs are a great way to break down the financial barrier in youth sports and give more kids the opportunity to play. If your organization has the bandwidth to support this type of activity, you can learn more about setting up a free program within Sports Connect on our support site.

For more information on how we are supporting organizations like Every Kid Sports, which is dedicated to giving every kid the chance to play, regardless of their family’s financial status, read our recent partnership announcement.