Now, in talking about retention, we shouldn't get away from some of the beauties of the sport, particularly our informality and individualism. We don't pressure people, or force them to commit long-term, either through group-pressure, hierarchy or high entry costs.
I'll always come back to the idea that Ultimate is a great product – lots of people want to play it, we just need to make it available. This is the core about my tips for improving retention for Ultimate.
Ensure communication between administrators and players is open, routine and not overloaded.
Plan at least a season ahead and confirm dates and times.
Link seasons and leagues and teams together to foster easy transition.
Establish routines and avoid changing unless its forced upon you (typically by growth).
If you're an Ultimate administrator, particularly a League Director or Captain, ask yourself some questions like:
- do you ask people want they think of the setup? You may find out why people are thinking of leaving.
- do your announcements come on a regular/routine basis?
- do people have alternative ways of getting information? For example, do you email the weekly draw out, but also have the full season draw available on a website?
- is it *always* clear when the next season starts, and how long after the end of the current season this is (this helps people to recruit their friends also).
- do you do something that fills in the weeks between Leagues? Yes, some people like a break (including you), but give them options. Encouraging teams to have team dinners or social events; have the lights and fields available (budget the cost into your league fees) and promote pickup, or invite teams to use the time to train up to the next season; put a week or two of Learn2Play on; put on a Coaching clinic (pay Coaches out of your league fees).
- do your local seasons start and finish around the same time, so that people can move between them?
Ultimate administrators in my experience have been pretty bright people – world builders and experimenters. This comes with many of us having a University experience. But sometimes we must resist the urge to tinker. Stick to the routine and you'll foster retention.But on the other hand, when we grow, we often over-think it. Be willing to muddle through and keep people out there playing. Regular play fosters further regular play.