Field scheduling issues

Rod Becks Mullet

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 9, 2001
2,037
NYC
I'm at a bit of a loss and looking for some help. My local little league is in a small district, each graduating class is about 100 kids for perspective. We have very limited fields due to the size of our town. Three main fields, one tee-ball sized field and occasional use of two fields at the local elementary schools. The issue we run into is giving out practice times. Leading up to Opening Day isn't much of an issue, teams sign up for slots, but once games begin we have a hard time fitting teams in. The three main fields typically have games every night, the tee-ball sized field is only really good for tee-ball. With that in mind, we don't lock in a set time for teams through the season.

I'll add, we have used SSU Play as our tech provider in the past and it hasn't been able to handle field conflicts. For that reason, among others, we're switching to Team Snap. Looks great, lots of positives, but still can't deal with it for practicing.

All that said, I'm curious if there are any other leagues out there that have floating practice teams where teams need to sign up on the fly and if so, what do you use to handle the requests and sorting of the field?

Thanks!
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
46,030
How many different teams and age groups? Are teams too large to share a field? Couches can work together on drills, etc.
 

steeplechase3k

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 25, 2005
2,632
Portland, OR
Are there non-baseball fields you can use for occasional practices? I'm on a rec soccer team that has weekly practice/scrimmage all year and for a month or two every spring there's a baseball team that uses half the field we are on. It's a turf high school soccer/football field inside a track so doesn't work for baseball games, but they do get in some drills. I think it's mostly infield practice with the coach hitting grounders, but I've never paid careful attention.
 

loshjott

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 30, 2004
12,027
Silver Spring, MD
I've dealt with this a lot in the past as a coach and division administrator for our local league (not LL affiliated). I don't know if it's a tech issue or encouraging your league to establish set practice times rather than doing it on the fly. Every team knows their game schedule so it should be possible to then allow teams to sign up for practices around those times. Of course you'll have rainouts, etc. that will mess things up but the more certainty the better for coaches and parents. Also totally agree on sharing field time with another team, especially for young kids where it's mostly partial field drills anyway.
 

BigJimEd

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2002
3,312
We had a small enough group that we just used a Google Calendar for practicing. All coaches could view the calendar to see availability but we had a "field manager" that you had to email to reserve a field and they updated the calendar. And yes teams would sometimes share the field. Coaches would either work it out before reserving or if saw a coach had the field reserved, you could contact them. It helped that a good percentage of coaches wouldn't bother with practices once games started. We did use set practice schedules for a bit but never worked well for us.


Also to piggy back on steeplechase, before the season started, I often used a grass field especially with younger ages. Good for some basic fielding and throwing, not so for hitting obviously.
 

Humphrey

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2010
1,857
Are there non-baseball fields you can use for occasional practices? I'm on a rec soccer team that has weekly practice/scrimmage all year and for a month or two every spring there's a baseball team that uses half the field we are on. It's a turf high school soccer/football field inside a track so doesn't work for baseball games, but they do get in some drills. I think it's mostly infield practice with the coach hitting grounders, but I've never paid careful attention.
Yes, hitting kids grounders on grass is a good way to get the shy ones less afraid of the ball.
 

BigMike

Dope
Dope
Sep 26, 2000
22,503
I remember the good old days when we had field conflicts, sadly our numbers are so bad, it's just not an issue anymore.

You have to get really efficient with the 30-60 minutes you have the team at the field before games. Find ways to do more than just a quick warm up session, and infield there.

One question is, is the league overscheduling games. If teams are playing 2 nights a week and there is no practice time available, that is hard, but not much you can do. If the league is trying to play more than 2 games a week then they may be overscheduling.
 

Rod Becks Mullet

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 9, 2001
2,037
NYC
Thanks for all the input.

the 2 elementary school fields we use are actually the school soccer fields, failed to mention that. Again, good area for the younger kids. The high school has one turf field that we get can't access to (soccer, lacrosse and track share it in spring).

We usually have 4 teams in the 12U division, 6-8 in 10U, 8-10 in 8U plus 6-8 total softball teams. So not an extraordinary amount of teams. Encouraging field sharing is certainly a good thought, was more looking for the idea of how to keep things organized so they can book on the fly a bit.

Our teams play 2 teams a week max so it's not a situation of dealing with too many games, it's just not enough field resources and being able to coordinate the entirety of the schedule. I like the idea of a google calendar, was thinking a google doc but worry about people making changes on each other's times. I guess that dips into the honor system?
 

jayhoz

Ronald Bartel
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
16,227
We had a small enough group that we just used a Google Calendar for practicing. All coaches could view the calendar to see availability but we had a "field manager" that you had to email to reserve a field and they updated the calendar. And yes teams would sometimes share the field. Coaches would either work it out before reserving or if saw a coach had the field reserved, you could contact them. It helped that a good percentage of coaches wouldn't bother with practices once games started. We did use set practice schedules for a bit but never worked well for us.


Also to piggy back on steeplechase, before the season started, I often used a grass field especially with younger ages. Good for some basic fielding and throwing, not so for hitting obviously.
We do something similar on a shared google sheet. The scheduling director sets the game and practice schedule for the season. Change / booking requests are emailed to the scheduling director by Friday. The scheduling director then makes the changes on the google sheet on a first come first served basis.

I think the key is having the original practice schedule laid out for the season by the director. If it is just a blank canvas and you are hoping that coaches can just work it out I don't think that is going to be successful.
 

jayhoz

Ronald Bartel
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
16,227
I like the idea of a google calendar, was thinking a google doc but worry about people making changes on each other's times. I guess that dips into the honor system?
Our google sheet is locked. Only the scheduling director can edit it.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
24,363
I'm at a bit of a loss and looking for some help. My local little league is in a small district, each graduating class is about 100 kids for perspective. We have very limited fields due to the size of our town. Three main fields, one tee-ball sized field and occasional use of two fields at the local elementary schools. The issue we run into is giving out practice times. Leading up to Opening Day isn't much of an issue, teams sign up for slots, but once games begin we have a hard time fitting teams in. The three main fields typically have games every night, the tee-ball sized field is only really good for tee-ball. With that in mind, we don't lock in a set time for teams through the season.

I'll add, we have used SSU Play as our tech provider in the past and it hasn't been able to handle field conflicts. For that reason, among others, we're switching to Team Snap. Looks great, lots of positives, but still can't deal with it for practicing.

All that said, I'm curious if there are any other leagues out there that have floating practice teams where teams need to sign up on the fly and if so, what do you use to handle the requests and sorting of the field?

Thanks!
My son's soccer club used Team Snap for a while and I thought it sucked just FYI. They now use Playmetrics, which I guess is better for things like organizing teams but I don't know how good it would be for your purpose.

Note that there are a bunch of programs/software that do this. If you google "programs that schedule facilities" or some iteration, they will show up. Have no idea how expensive they are but maybe you can get teams to pay for it. Here's one example that seems like it would fit your bill: https://www.schedulefm.com/SFM/.
 

Winger 03

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 15, 2003
1,482
Frederick, MD
Would something as simple as Signup Genius work? Load in the available times / locations and list only one or 2 slots for teams to take.