Securing Equipment

If you build it, he will come.

It is the quote from the famous Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. Ray Kinsella, a new farmer, first hears a mysterious whisper while working his land. As the movie progresses it is later determined that the voice is referring to building a baseball field. That field is where Ray’s father will come to so that they can enjoy shared love for the game one more time.

Do you know why?

It is a bit of a stretch to ask someone to tear up part of your crop field to build a gigantic ball diamond, soccer pitch, cricket field or what have you. However, like the premise of the movie, you can’t attract more players, if you don’t have a facility or equipment to use. Our last article spoke about options to Make it Accessible so you can attract more players. Recognizing that your target audience may not all have access to spare crop fields and the thousands of dollars to build a facility to play sport, look for opportunities to build it into your community so they will come.

That’s only half of it!

The great work of not-for-profit organizations like Right To Play, or community leaders like Bill Comri of Calgary, Alberta, Canada can assist individuals with financial barriers to sporting programs. But, what larger groups, or the community as a whole. Taking Ray’s example, as an organization, we can provide the greater community with facility style access, like outdoor rinks to skate on in the wintertime, or purchasing equipment and strategically placing it in a public field for free community use. Finally, for equipment purchase whether for community use or your specific programs, ensure that you buy and properly maintain that equipment.

How do you Grow?

Our marketing efforts in the digital space are going to keep us relevant. However, seeing is believing. Digital scales very well, however events in real life are going to carry more weight. Create opportunities for your potential and existing members to try out new things at in-person events. Extend those opportunities by advertising for facilities that are available to use in your area. Now, if those facilities don’t exist, look for simple compromises, like placing equipment in empty public spaces for public use.

For any equipment that you do purchase, be ready to spend the right amount of money on it. This equipment could be for public use, like previously mentioned, or for internal member use. This will ensure that you are prepared to properly supply for your members during the season – don’t skimp out.

With that in mind, make sure that you are ready to maintain the equipment and replace it when it needs to be replaced. Getting one more season out of it isn’t always the best idea.

Where to Go from Here?

First, you have to get them into the organization. With your Media and Advertising game on point, your Community Partners leveraging your brand, and by Making it Accessible, you’ve covered all of your bases for individuals with an interest to enroll.

Well, almost all…

Seeing sport in real life can still have an impact on your organization. A great opportunity to grow your organization can come in and try-it days. This marketing tool can be effective for both attracting new players, and helping players find a different program for them.

First, let’s deal with the less attractive later option, finding a different program. It may seem counterintuitive, but quickly finding that an activity does not fit, will give your potential members a better overall experience, and more likely lead to a recommendation to others. Let’s imagine, with a bit of pressure, spending hundreds of dollars for something that you think you will like, only to find out you don’t. Failing fast with try-it programs provides those potential members with the chance to ensure they are going to like it, give you a full commitment, and for team sports, a commitment to the team for the whole season. The former is a more natural win, potential players come out: try it, love it, and play for life.

Try it sessions are great, but they require planning, and organizational resources, what if there were a way to market without spending anything. Ad Hoc play is a great way to learn and grow independently. That comfort level when with friends can change linear growth to exponential. Make sure to take time to remind your members of the local facilities that can be taken advantage of for sport. So many community baseball, soccer, football, hockey, and basketball fields and courts could be utilized more by the public. If your area doesn’t have a facility for your sport, look internally to how you could increase awareness through the purchase of equipment for the public – high traffic areas are the best. Advertise the placement of that equipment through your website, then place signage for your organization on site.

When looking to purchase equipment for your organization, whether for the general public or internal use, make sure that you are purchasing quality equipment. More often than not, it will outlast cheaper models, and cost you less in the long run. Further to that, as mentioned in Disrupt Magazine’s article on the importance of high-quality equipment, poor quality equipment could be prone to cause injury, as the blister prone pickleball paddles illustrated in the article. This will weaken the overall member experience for organizations providing equipment to new and potential members – you need to create a great experience so they need to come back.

And finally, make sure that you rotate through your equipment and retire it when it is ready. Trying to squeeze yet another year out of it could cause more harm than good. Patrick Chapla, a great advocate for the growth of lacrosse in the United States, talks on this Instagram post about using “greasers” or old lacrosse balls in games and practices. The use of greasers in games and practices hampers the ability of the player to perform. In a game of inches using old lacrosse balls to save a couple of dollars can be unbelievably frustrating! Taking that a step further, using old worn-out equipment can also lead to safety concerns, that worn-out shared piece of equipment may no longer provide enough proper protection. Make sure that you are providing quality equipment to your members, and that equipment is maintained properly after purchase. Keep them safe and running at a high level of performance.

In conclusion

Set yourself up for success by ensuring that your organization brings in great equipment. Quality product is more likely to be kinder to your budget long term. And, making sure you rotate old products out on time will keep your members healthy and safe during participation.

If you have local contacts that can support the individual equipment needs, make sure to create connections so that all members have everything they need to participate in the program.

When you build it, they will come. When new and existing members have access to equipment will they be able to train outside of your regular programming. Let them build independent bonds and grow your game on their own time, but make sure to advertise. When the season opens, they’ll remember your name, and find you out.


Beyond the arena: get out and skate! - January 10, 2020 -

The Importance Of High-Quality Equipment In Athletic Performance - January 21, 2022 -

Stop letting greasers ruin reps or get into games - November 19, 2021 -