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LeagueApps Partner Management Team Launches Coaching Sessions (Beta)!

Best Practices, Company News, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Rec, Value of LeagueApps

In much the same way that athletes practice and hone their skills for the big game, LeagueApps also believes in the value of keeping your LeagueApps knowledge proficient and up to snuff before each season. To help you stay on top of your software management game, LeagueApps is creating Coaching Sessions in order to help provide training for our partners in a more proactive and structured manner. The goal is to offer 1-on-1 training to ensure that partners are utilizing LeagueApps to get the most value from the platform. 

 

Here are a few FAQ’s to help you better understand what Coaching Sessions are about…

 

Q: What Exactly IS a LeagueApps Coaching Session?

A: A Coaching Session is a way for partners to get advanced training or guidance from the LeagueApps Partner Management team. The goal is to help make your experience on the platform even more convenient, intuitive, and valuable. The session itself is a 1-hour screen-share meeting with one of our Partner Management team members. Coaching Sessions work best when there is a clear focus and both sides understand the goals for the session. Prior to the meeting, partners will fill out a simple form which will help shape the agenda and let us know exactly what the objectives are.

 

Q: What Is the Difference between Coaching Sessions and LeagueApps Support?

A: The biggest difference between our support channels and Coaching Sessions is that Coaching Sessions are a proactive way for partners to get help and training before a question pops up. The great benefit of a Coaching Session is that partners are encouraged to schedule them before a critical period, such as a big registration period, a new feature update, or a new staff hiring. In this way, Coaching Sessions take a proactive approach to helping partners set themselves up for success each season on LeagueApps. Support channels are more of a real-time tool that is used to resolve a specific question or issue.

 

Q: When Will Coaching Sessions Be Useful to Me?

A: There may be several different situations in which you want to schedule a 1-on-1 coaching session with a LeagueApps Team member. Here are a few:

1) Registration Audit: Signups are around the corner and you want to ensure that your upcoming programs are properly configured before your new season’s registration opens.

2) New Feature Training: You’d like to make sure that you and your staff are up-to-speed on the new features and updates.

3) Product Vision Discussion: You want to gain a clearer understanding of the LeagueApps product vision and learn which upcoming projects LeagueApps is working on.

4) Staff Training: You hire a new staff member that is not familiar with LeagueApps or properly trained. OR, you are the current webmaster for your organization but would like to train the new webmaster to take over your position. LeagueApps can train your staff members AND save you the time of having to teach them the system yourself.

5) New Site Launch: You are creating a new site within your LeagueApps account for a new sport or new city. LeagueApps can help setup and audit the new site.

 

Q: Is there a cost associated with Coaching Sessions?

A: The release of Coaching Sessions is still in Beta.  As such, any Coaching Sessions that are scheduled now are FREE. In the future we’re considering including Coaching Sessions as part of premium service or for an a la carte fee of $99/session.

 

Q: How Can I Schedule a Coaching Session?

A: To get started… Sign-up here for a Coaching Session.

 

To recap, Coaching Sessions are like LeagueApps refresher courses, or “continuing education” after you have already started to utilize the platform.  They can be used to train yourself on new tools, ensure you are utilizing existing tools to best fit your needs, or refamiliarize yourself after a season’s hiatus. Sign-up here for a Coaching Session, or let us know if you have any questions about our new offering.

LeagueApps Speaker Series: Donna Goldsmith, former COO of WWE, Delivers the Smackdown

Company News, Press, Release Notes, Value of LeagueApps

At LeagueApps, we have monthly speakers join the team to share their work, their entrepreneurial and sports journeys, and their insights.  This past week, we hosted Donna Goldsmith, former COO of the WWE and former VP of Licensing at the NBA, to share her experiences from the sports industry.

An astute, no-nonsense businesswoman from Long Island, NY, Donna breaks the mold of the traditional sports executive. She started her career as a secretary at Revlon cosmetics, where she rose to become an assistant marketing manager before moving to Swatch. These experiences gave her a solid background in marketing and sales, which she brought with her to successful careers in with the NBA and the WWE.

The average American who thinks of WWE thinks of John Cena, Vince McMahon, and the other characters that the network develops to portray the stereotypical image of ‘Smackdown’.  But behind the scenes are people such as Donna Goldsmith, who shrewdly cultivated the brand into a successful business venture that encompasses broadcast television, live events, commerce and licensing.

During her time at the WWE, Goldsmith was named the second most powerful woman in sports by Forbes Magazine.

Just as Donna’s rise within the sports corporate world demonstrates the possibility for sports to become more inclusive, so too does LeagueApps hope to make sure that sports experiences are accessible to all.

“Making a difference on the job is the most important thing to me. I love being able top make positive changes at an organization,” she said.

Donna attributes 60% of her success to the relationships she built along her journey to the top of the corporate ladder. She now pays it forward, not only through her consulting work with startups but also through her volunteer work through Mentoring USA.

For more information on how you can make a difference by helping a young adult develop the life skills they will need to be successful both in their career and in life in general, check out Mentoring USA.

What LeagueApps Is Learning From The 5x NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs

Best Practices, LeagueApps Team

At LeagueApps we believe in team. It’s one of our core values. We believe that we’ll have more success if we always strive to work together with each other and our partners.

LeagueApps often draws inspiration from the great championship teams in professional sports.  Right now, there’s no better example than the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have won 5 NBA Championships in the last 15 years. During this span, they have finished near the top of their conference and have made the playoffs every single season. The Spurs are a model of professionalism, consistency and success.  Most impressively, the Spurs have accomplished this all, in the most competitive environment (Western Conference), without exorbitant spending, high draft picks or marquee free agent acquisitions.

How have they done it?

And what can LeagueApps learn from them to make our team and company perform at a championship caliber with winning results?

First, we asked 7x NBA Champion and former San Antiono Spur Robert Horry.

 

Besides the advice of Big Shot Bob, we’ve also done a bit more research and “broke down some film” on the factors that have led to the Spurs greatness. LeagueApps even featured the Spurs as part of our recent company-wide OTA meetings.

Tactical Execution

In the 2014 NBA playoffs, the Spurs offense was unstoppable as they defeated the defending Champion Miami Heat in the Finals to win the NBA Championship. The Spurs were one step ahead of their competition throughout the Playoffs. It appeared as though they had an extra player on the court! This all from a franchise that is often labeled as boring by the press and fans.

The Spurs success on the court is most attributed to their ability to execute their game plan. The Spurs use spacing, ball movement, misdirection and pace to keep their opponents off–balance and create scoring opportunities.  These tactics may seem simple, and that is because they are! While other teams may attempt to use these same principles the Spurs simply execute better than their competition.

Execute to perfection and everything suddenly becomes simple!

Effective Balance

The NBA is commonly known as a league of superstars where talent trumps all other factors. Yet the Spurs utilize their entire team roster. The Spurs often rely on nine or ten players in their playing rotation. They spread the ball around more than other teams and have a more balanced distribution of individual player stats. Even their star players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli play limited minutes and/or do not start the game.

Other teams within the NBA that have similar type of balance are not as successful. The Spurs are not balanced out of necessity (lack of star players) but rather created a system in which balance is a key ingredient.  All of the members within the Spurs organization buy into the idea of balance. Most successful teams are highly ambitious so management must lead the organization to funnel that ambition into team success. Coach Popovich limits every player’s service time dramatically, essentially suppressing individual stats.

Defined Roles

All players have strengths and weaknesses. That’s true in basketball and in business. The Spurs recognize that and focus on recruiting and training the right players for specific roles on their team to best utilize their strongest individual skills. They rarely ask their players to step outside of their roles to do more than their capabilities.

The Spurs repeatedly demonstrate a unique ability to emphasize the strengths of their players while minimizing their weaknesses. Rather than focus on what they lack, the Spurs strive to maximize their existing resources.

Winning Culture

Spurs management, lead by Coach Popovich and General Manager R.C. Buford, have developed a defined program and structure for success. The Spurs culture is widely respected by players throughout the league for selflessness, loyalty, disciplined execution, hard work, and teamwork.

First, rather than dwell on a “system” the Spurs focus on the people within their organization. Former Spurs Assistant and NBA Head Coach Mike Browns says that Coach Popovich’s “people-managing skills, they’re off the charts…You watch how he handles different situations with people, whether it’s people in the front office or players 1-15 or people that work for him and you try to copy that, to a certain degree, if you can.”

“Pop has brought the vision to our program,” says GM Buford said. “Everyone who has come through our program understands the things that are important: character and selfless people who want to be part of a team. Want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The Spurs are able to identify and recruit players that fit into the organization.

“When there’s a clarity of what works here and doesn’t work, hopefully it gives us the clarity to know when we’re looking for people,” Spurs GM R.C. Buford said.

Coach Popovich sums up his players by saying, “win or Lose, they do it with class and do it the right way.” This is done through leadership, which engenders mutual trust and respect, unique teamwork, team loyalty, using analytics in context and developing an agile strategy that works. Not only sports teams, but any company engaged in any pursuit can use these lessons to develop a winning strategy in a rapidly changing and competitive world.

Data Analytics

Like many professional sports teams and businesses today, the Spurs have begun to analyze and rely more heavily on data to make decisions. The Spurs have a director of basketball analytics and a manager of statistical development within their organization.

The Spurs put an emphasis on explaining the data. Coach Popovich expects his analytics team to explain and rationalize the data. The Spurs also recognize the importance of context and the elusive “intangibles.”

The Spurs have actually made major adjustments to both their offensive and defensive strategy during their unprecedented era of success. This is in part because of changes in personnel but also because of trends within the league. The Spurs don’t feel the need to stick to a system. The Spurs style has evolved from its more plodding ways of the early 2000s into one that, over the last three years, has ranked among the NBA’s most efficient offenses.

Get Inspired By The Spurs…

 

Watch the LeageueApps team discuss the Spurs at OTA Meetings

 

Stepping Back to Step Forward: LeagueApps OTAs

Best Practices, Company News, LeagueApps Team

Twice a year, we step back from our daily operations to gather as a team, discuss how we can improve as a company, and plan for the future.  Oh, and have a lot of fun in the process.

What are OTAs?

You may have heard the term “OTAs” used in reference to NFL preseason activities, where teams hold “Organized Team Activities” to prepare for the season.  We’ve appropriated the term here at LeagueApps to describe our team meetings – our OTAs are all about creating a team that works hard, learns from our past experiences, become smarter, and get results.

Key Themes

 

A core LeagueApps value is being a “Student of the Game.”  As a company, and individually, we each strive to constantly be learning and improving. At the OTAs, each team member presented on the ways in which he or she will personally strive to improve over the next six months.  These presentations were not merely ideals, but rather specific gameplans for personal growth and improvement, including explicit ways by which the team could support each other’s objectives.

Another key value is being a “Difference Maker” – as a company in the communities that we operate, through our work with our customers and by extension their participants and families, and individually within LeagueApps.  We used the OTAs to recognize those on our team who go above and beyond and experience success in new endeavors in order to learn from their achievements.  Different members of the team were invited to give Difference Maker presentations, where those who had made an especially large contribution in shaping company culture and strategy could present their projects to the group.

Guest Speakers

In addition to internal presentations, the OTAs also included outside speakers such as Lawrence Cann of Street Soccer USA, Tom Farrey of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Initiative and author of Game On, and Adam Seifer, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Everplans.

The team was inspired by the passion and story of Lawrence Cann, who started the Street Soccer organization to create a platform where sports could be vehicle to transfer skills and create opportunities for at-risk youth and at-risk populations like the homeless.  We learned how Street Soccer not only runs soccer programs for its program participants, but also operates leagues and tournaments to raise funds to underwrite their programs.  LeagueApps is proud to call Street Soccer a partner.

Check out Street Soccer’s upcoming Street Soccer tournaments in NYC and San Francisco in August.   

Tom Farrey joined the team for an engaging discussion on the future of youth sports, and the role that LeagueApps could play in facilitating greater participation.  We’ve highlighted many of the key points in a recent blog post.

Lastly, Adam Seifer shared his entrepreneurial journey – and the lesssons he learned in building companies like sixdegrees and fotolog and being at the forefront of innovation around social networking and digital media.  He also happens to be a sports enthusiast, participant and sports parent, and the conversation led to a discussion of how the sports experience will be impacted by technology.

Sports Day

It wasn’t all about sitting around a conference table.  We are, after all, a sports company.  We spent the better part of the afternoon down at the amazing facilities of Basketball City, taking in the USA-Belgium soccer match (and marveling at Tim Howard’s heroics) followed by a series of basketball games and 5-on-5 action.  With the addition of some new team members, we are ready for all comers, so let us know if you want to schedule a game.

The LeagueApps team after a long day of ball at Basketball City

Plus/Delta

However, perhaps the most influential presentation was not a presentation at all, but rather a team wide discussion of where we can improve as a company.

We called it our Plus/Delta (+/∆) session, after a management tool we used to highlight what we are doing well, and what we can do better.

You can read more about the management tool of plus/delta here.

We take pride that as much as we enjoy celebrating our successes, we take even more pleasure honestly discussing where we can get better.  We are guided by the vision of not just being best – but being the best at getting better.  Every day.

We know our partners are an important part of this conversation, so let us know how we can get better in serving you and the communities in which you operate.      

The Impact of Local Sports Communities – A LeagueApps discussion with ESPN and Project Play’s Tom Farrey

Company News, Press, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

At LeagueApps, there’s more to what we do than the usual ins and outs of everyday work life.  Our team is constantly engaging with leaders in the sports community.  These conversations allow us to learn more about how we can have an impact in local sports communities.

A few weeks ago during our OTAs (Organized Team Activities, or what others might refer to as team meetings), we had the distinct pleasure of a visit from ESPN journalist and Aspen Institute Project Director Tom Farrey.

Project Play is focused on understanding why youth are participating less in sport, and making recommendations on how to create “Sports for All, Play for Life” communities. LeagueApps President Jeremy Goldberg helped lead the Project Play working group on technology’s role in the future of youth sports.

Tom’s discussion with the team further reinforced the impact that we can have on local sports communities.

Here are some highlights of his talk:

Only THREE out of every TEN children in the United States are involved in youth athletic programs

The goal of Project Play is to significantly increase participation rates among youth.  This is not going to be an easy feat to accomplish, but with the proper awareness anything is possible.  So how to we actually overcome this problem?

Create universal access to a positive sport experience for all children

Younger athletes do not respond to the same type of training as their older counterparts.  The lessons that are learned in the early years of sports tend to be focused on fundamentals over competition.  Great coaching and age appropriate play is crucial to ensure that youth of all ages have great initial experiences and make sport and physical fitness a permanent part of their lives.

Take a look at USA Hockey, a leader in promoting an American Development Model for youth that is focused on creating age appropriate sports experiences

Bring back free play 

The days of pickup baseball or soccer in the park after school seem to be a thing of the past.  A major hurdle for parents trying to get their children involved in programs is simply how much they cost.  With no certainty that their child will even enjoy the sport that they have been signed up for, it is hard for some parents to make this commitment.  Free play for the younger years of athleticism will not only alleviate this stress, but also present opportunities for children to find a sport they truly love.

Properly trained coaches

Most coaches have never received the proper training required to grow and develop an athlete in the early stages of development.  There are tons of opportunities out there for coaches to hone their skills.  Better coaches lead to better experiences, for the players and their parents.

Check out how U.S. Soccer enables their coaches to be better.

Commit to inclusion 

While elite level programs are fantastic at developing the highest caliber athletes, not every child is going to fall into that category.  Some parents want their children to play simply for the love of the game.  There should be a place for every child that wants to experience sport.  The AYSO is an example of an organization that was created with a focus on providing positive soccer experiences for youth.

Create a safer experience

Recently, the media has been highlighting the short and long term effects that head trauma have on children and adults alike.  It is safe to say that some parents are just too scared to let their child play in an environment that could result in serious injury.  Fortunately enough, many programs are combating this by limiting the level of physical contact between players.

There is a program out there for each and every child in the local communities

LeagueApps has the distinct pleasure of working with them each and every day.  Most, if not all of these recommendations are already being endorsed and incorporated by local sports programs around the country.

We are excited to work with our partners to leverage technology to increase participation in sport and ensure the best experiences for all participants – whether it’s a child just starting out or an adult who makes time in their busy schedules to play in leagues and tournaments.

Let us know how we can work together to achieve these goals.  Head over to Project Play for a wealth of insightful videos and articles.  Drop us a line below and contribute to the conversation!

LeagueApps President, Jeremy Goldberg (left) and Tom Farrey (right)

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