Travel Tips for Youth Sports Organizations – Part 3 of 3

The final piece of team travel is how to get around town.

How are you getting around town?

If you’ve read parts one (click here) and part two (click here), you know the first question you have to ask: who is in charge? Are you responsible for getting players to and from the event or will they be on their own?

The team will take care of the players

If you arrived with your own team transportation for everyone, you are set up to get the teams to and from the event.
 
Yet, if you have flown in or have a single charter bus then you need to determine how to get your teams around town.
 
Here are some options:

Rent vehicles for each team when you get to the city

Pros – Even though you got to town as a large group, each team will now have the flexibility to come and go as they please. This will be critical if there is more than one event location.
 
Cons – Depending on the size of your team, you may need more than one vehicle, which means more drivers. Or you may have to rent large 12-15 passenger vans. Big vans are more expensive, harder to drive and can be harder to find in some cities. You will also need to have a plan for insurance and payment. Every car rental place is going to offer insurance. They will also need a major credit card to hold your reservation.

Uber, Lyft, Taxi or other service

Pros – The required planning is minimal and you only pay for transportation that you need. Also, get your driver’s contact info. You can make future arrangements with someone that knows the ins and outs of the city.
 
Cons – You are completely dependent on someone else. Now you depend on them to show up on time and provide a vehicle that will fit all your players. You don’t have much flexibility. Smaller cities may have very few options.
Before picking your vehicle, how many people are you transporting?

Charter Bus

Pros – If you got to town on a charter bus, you can still use that bus to get around town. That takes care of one team. You have a professional driver and the vehicle is definitely big enough for all your players. If your event is near your hotel, you can turn your charter bus in to a shuttle bus for your teams during the event.
 
Cons – Charter buses can be difficult to get around in traffic, though your professional driver has experience. With a single bus your teams are confined to going only where it goes. You will need to do some real planning and mapping out of games and routes each morning. Parking can be an issue depending on your hotel and the event itself.

The keys to success

Countless programs have shown that no matter the situation, anything can be done.
 
As long as you are putting some thought in to your plans and doing the work, you will have a road map to success. Take that road map and communicate it with everyone in your program. You will provide a first class experience that everyone will love.
 
At Select, we rent a car for each coach because to us the flexibility is the most important. Vans are the best option (either 12 passenger or mini-vans). If we have used charter buses, we assign one team to it which saves us a rental car.

The players are on their own

Each player is expected to get to and from the event on their own. This means that each player has an adult that they are with. Clear communication with everyone is crucial to success.
 
Be sure each player understands the following:
 
  • The location of the next event
  • The time they must be at the event before their competition
  • Where they can find information for each game. Teams will usually discuss where and when the next game is. But kids can be distracted after a big win or tough loss. They will need a backup source for information.
  • Who to contact if they have questions. Very few youth events are scheduled perfectly. If there is a tournament format with post-pool play seeding, there are going to be questions about game times and locations.
We always have our coaches set up a group text with their teams. This allows for quick communication when schedules change or something comes up. We also set up a group text with coaches. This group text allows coaches to update the entire staff about what is going on with their teams. It can also help if a coach is in a jam (needs a dry erase pen, player can’t get in to their hotel room, etc).

Talk about a game plan

From transportation to hotels, the key to success is having a solid plan and communicating it.
 
Start early. Think through the entire trip. Prepare and over prepare if needed. Then communicate your plan with everyone that needs to be in the loop.
 
With this approach, the trip is all about your team and their performance and not about logistics.