How to Start a Sports Team

by Fit After Fifty
How to Start a Sports Team

Joining a sports team is an excellent idea for individuals over age fifty, particularly into their sixties and seventies after they retire. Some of the top advantages of participation on a sports team in your later years include:

  • Regular opportunities to socialize with like-minded and fun-loving individuals
  • Consistent exercise activities – for both your body and your mind – to keep you young
  • Create a routine and renew a sense of purpose

Best Team Sports for Seniors

Although some high-impact sports such as basketball may be too intense as you age, there are many options that are highly beneficial as well as fun for us to enjoy into our 60s, 70s and beyond!

  • Water Volleyball & Water Polo: The buoyancy of your body in water makes water sports particularly advantageous for aging adults, while the adrenaline rush from scoring or defending an aggressive spike will keep you going after more. You can improve your muscle strength, cardiovascular health and other areas by playing volleyball or polo on a team at your local pool.

Men and women playing water polo.

  • Tennis & Badminton: Improve your hand-eye coordination, balance and agility by playing tennis or badminton. You can play on a court indoors or out, with as little as one other player. This makes these sports more accessible if it’s harder to find people in your age group and skill level that are interested in team sports.
  • Bowling: Something of a comeback has been happening with bowling in the past few years, and it continues to be an excellent social and fitness activity for seniors. The heavy bowling ball will help you work on your balance and coordination as you roll that thing toward a strike, and the activity can offer a fun experience every week.

[Related: Why Retirees Should Consider Team Sports ]

Team sports for seniors and individuals who are enjoying their next 50 don’t stop there, by any means! You can participate in sports teams for everything from horseshoes to table tennis; in fact, the National Senior Games happen in June each year and includes all of the following:

  • Man playing tennis.

    Archery

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Horseshoes
  • Pickleball
  • Power Walking
  • Race Walking
  • Racquetball
  • Road Race
  • Shuffleboard
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Triathalon
  • Volleyball

[ Related: Benefits of Joining Your Local Seniors Softball Team ]

Steps to Create a New Sports Team

While many urban communities have sports teams for young and old, the options may be limited for one reason or another. Your local community may not offer the sport(s) that you are interested in, their programs may be full, or perhaps you just don’t feel that the available programs will suit your needs… Whatever your reason for starting a sports team, use these steps to guide your progress and ensure everything is set up correctly so that you can get to the sport itself sooner.

  1. Start by choosing a sport and finding a league in your area that fits with your level of skill and physical ability.
  2. Next, figure out the logistics, such as any necessary permits, total fees/costs, administrative management, waivers, etc.
  3. Some fun stuff comes next: Select your team name and logo (if applicable), and design a website with a user-friendly platform like WordPress or Squarespace.
  4. You can’t have a sports team without team members, so get out there and recruit people to join your team! Post flyers at your local community center or retirement facility, let your neighbors and friends know, and strike up a conversation with folks at your neighborhood coffee shop.
  5. Finally, get ready to start the season! This step involves collecting any signed waivers, applications and fees from team members, setting a clear chain of command for the sports activity and the logistics of managing the team, designing and buying the uniforms, and working with the league to set your team schedule.

Men’s basketball team members congratulate each other on a win.

The “number of women 55 and older who play basketball at least 50 times a year has grown from 16,000 in 1995 to nearly 131,000 a decade later. – The National Sporting Goods Association

How to Manage Your Sports Team

After you’ve started a sports team for your fellow local over-50 athletes, there is still some management to be done to ensure the ongoing maintenance of your team. Someone’s got to handle the logistics!

Administrative Considerations & Steps

One of the best ways to manage your existing team, keep everyone in the loop about practice and game/match schedules, and also spread the word about your team or sports league is to maintain a website. There are free and inexpensive website options available. Your team website should have the following (at least):

  • Contact Info, Location & Hours
  • Summary Description
  • Team Openings/Needs

If possible, you’ll want to also have a team photo or individual team member photos and perhaps a back-end login portal so that team members can download or access any information they need such as application forms, waivers, uniform/jersey order forms, and league/team payment information.

Down the road, you may need to consider whether you’ll have volunteers or staff helping you (or working instead of you) to manage the team’s logistics. This may get more complicated depending on your team’s status as a for-profit or non-profit business. You may also want to consider a league or sports team management system or software.

How to Make Cuts (if needed)

Making cuts may be something you have to consider – it is, unfortunately, a necessary evil. With all extracurricular activities, you’re likely to encounter ‘flakes’ (those people who RSVP “yes” but then don’t show) and with team sports, this can make a big difference. If there are not enough attendees, it can be difficult or even impossible to put a game together, and everyone who did show up as promised will have wasted their time. When this issue continues over time, it can lead to the eventual end of your sports team.

Nobody likes cutting, but here are some tips for handling this process with your over-50 teammates:

  • Be honest and professional. Even though the sport and team are more of a hobby and fun activity than a professional setting, this attitude can help. Address the root of the problem, be it attendance, attitude, sportsmanship, etc. in a calm and direct manner.
  • Give them a chance. Everyone deserves a second chance. If there’s something the individual can improve upon to stay on the team, be clear and concise about what that is. Don’t forget to follow up with acknowledgement of their improvement or final action in the case that they don’t improve.
  • Offer something else. Maybe the individual just can’t seem to show up to practices, or they’re always late to games or matches – suggest other ways they can be a part of the team that fits better with their current capacity. Perhaps they can be a designated backup player or they can commit to second string. Or maybe they can bring fruit and water for halftime refreshment.

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