Starting a basketball league is no small task. You’ll have to take care of a lot of setup before the league starts, be on-site during the games, and you’ll even have work to do once the games are over and you head home. Here at RecLeague.net, we’ve managed, played in, and watched a lot of basketball leagues, and we can help you set up your league. We’ve compiled a list of the most important things that everyone who wants to run a basketball league must consider. Without further ado, here are the top 9 things to consider when starting your basketball league:
When you first start planning your league, this is one of the most important things to consider. Who’s your target audience? Meaning, who do you want to play in your league? Do you want to limit it to a certain age, like high schoolers, middle schoolers, 18+, 35+? Do you want it to be only for one gender, and have a men’s league or a women’s league? Once you decide on that, you’ll be able to determine the answers to other important questions you must ask, like:
- When will you be able to charge for a registration fee?
- What dates, days of the week, and times of day will your target audience be available to play?
- How often will your audience want to play?
Another important choice you must make is where to play your games. If you have an indoor league, you’ll need to find an available gymnasium nearby where, that is available for the dates and times that you prefer. You’ll want it to be well-maintained and clean, because your paying customers won’t like to play on a dusty floor, sit on dirty benches, or shoot on bent rims.
You’ll also need to determine how much the venue costs to rent. Is it hourly, per session, or per day? How long will you need to rent it for every day, and for how many days per week? These questions must all be answered before you can decide on a venue, and they’ll effect your bottom line when calculating how much money you’ll need to charge each player or team.
The game of basketball requires just a ball and two hoops, right? Not when you’re running a league! You’ll have a lot of things you’ll need to buy or borrow before you even start your league – not to mention that you’ll need to buy certain things every week.
Here’s a short list of things you’ll need to buy just once.
- Scorers tables and chairs – Whoever is tracking the scores, timeouts, fouls, and other statistics like rebounds and assists have to sit somewhere where they can view the game unobstructed.
- Scorebooks, or sheets of paper designed to help track scores, various statistics, team fouls, and time outs. (or you can use RecLeague.net’s free apps to do all of the above).
- Digital scoreboards, plastic scoreboards, or a scoreboard controller (if your gymnasium has a scoreboard built into the wall, you’ll still need the device that can change the scores and set the timer)
- Basketballs, enough to play how many ever games you play at the same time, and a couple extra in case they get lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Mops/Brooms – while some gymnasiums may be kept in great condition, you’ll find some venues with dusty floors that are not great for playing basketball on. You’ll also need a mop in case of spills, or there’s blood on the playing floor from players injuries like scratches or scrapes.
- First aid kit – You’ll need these in case any injuries, like scrapes, cuts, etc.
Some of these items may be provided by the venue, so check before you purchase any of them.
There are some items that are consumed each week and may need to be purchased more than once. These include things like sports drinks (Gatorade or Powerade), sticky mats for players to rub their shoes on, and snacks if you provide them.
You’ll notice a lot of the items in the equipment list had to do with keeping scores. That brings us to the next thing you’ll have to figure out – who will be keeping scores for each game? A lot of leagues request that a player from one of the two teams in the game must keep score for their own game. Others have paid scorers who must show up for each game, and will receive a flat fee for working the scoreboard and tracking statistics for each game. You could even rely on volunteers, but make sure you or one of your fellow league managers are willing to take over in case you can’t find anyone willing to help.
Finding referees to officiate your games is an important part of adding to the professionalism, organization, and structure of your league. Good referees can help maintain order during games, asking for discipline from players, and holding teams and captains accountable for following the rules.
But where can you find referees for your league? If you’re running a not-for-profit league, like at your religious center, you might be thinking about having volunteers officiate your games. However, a bad referee is sometimes worse than no referees, because players will get more outraged from a missed foul call when they expect a referee to call the foul.
Your best bet is to find referees who have a lot of experience, the black and white striped uniforms, and whistles. And the best place to find these referees are from your middle schools and high schools. Find out when the next high school game is, and talk to the referees after the game. Ask them if they would be willing to referee for your league, what their availability is on your game days, and definitely ask them what their rate would be. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find referees at your local high schools. Another place to try to find referees is your local recreation center or fitness center. Many times, they’ll have organized leagues where you can find officials who would be willing to referee for your league as well.
Generating a game calendar, or a league schedule, is another todo on your list of tasks. Of course, first you’ll at least need to know how many teams will be in your league. Then you’ll need to decide how many weeks your league will run for. Will you have each team play every other team? Will you limit yourself to an 8-week season, no matter how many teams sign up? Once you make these decisions, you’ll be able to use any number of schedule generating tools, like the one we have on RecLeague.net, for generating matchups and having a schedule to be able to share online, or print on a sheet of paper.
Once you have your league’s game schedule, you’ll need a way to share it with the teams, players, coaches, and parents (if applicable) involved in your league. Printing one out and passing it out on the first day of games could work, but you’re asking for trouble if you ever need to update the schedules, cancel games due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, etc.
These days, everyone expects this kind of information to be shared online. You could try to post all of your updates on social media, or collect emails and send them out, but those are both prone to updates being missed, and angry customers. Luckily, if you use our schedule generator, you’ll also get a free website to post your calendar on, that will never be out of date, and is available for anyone to view, at any time.
This brings us to our next point – namely, how will you communicate with your teams and players? There are a few types of communication that you’ll want to be able to have with your league members.
First, if you have an emergency cancellation due to the gym’s roof leaking, or because the rec center double booked your court, you’ll want a fast way to communicate with your players. You definitely don’t want to be scrambling, trying to figure out people’s email addresses and phone numbers after you need to contact them. Ideally, you’ll have this kind of information for each player, or at least one player per team, saved somewhere easily accessible. The best time to collect this information is on your league’s signup form, or during the first day of games at the latest.
Next, you’ll need a way to share normal updates, like reminders, forms to be filled out, or announcements about your league. You can do this through email, social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, or through calling, texting, or chat apps, though they’re not ideal methods of communication.
The best alternative to social media, email, texting and calling, though is to place to post news, updates, and other information on your own league website. There are plenty of companies out there that offer a way to make a generic website that you can customize to be focused on basketball, but we’d recommend sticking with a company that focuses on sports league’s websites, like us. If you decide to use RecLeague.net’s free league website builder, you’ll have an always on, publicly accessible place for players and teams to check for updates, and even receive emails instantly with your latest post. Of course, for real, last minute emergencies, texting and calling is still probably the best option.
League Scores, Statistics, and Standings
You’ll want a place to post scores and statistics for your league. Players always want to know how many points they’ve scored, the number of rebounds they grabbed, the assists they dished out, etc. and they also want to be able to see league standings, other team’s records, and more. You won’t be able to share this kind of detailed information over social media, so unless you have a website where you can share it, you’re stuck emailing out Excel spreadsheets with scores typed in.
Again, your best bet is to have a dedicated website for your league. For this handling this type of information, though, you can’t depend on a generic website builder. You’ll likely need a specialized tool for building league or sports websites, that can correctly take your game statistics and scores, format them, calculate averages and totals, and display them correctly. Luckily, RecLeague.net offers a free and easy way to build a basketball league website, and we even have an easy to use app that lets you track game scores and statistics from your phone, tablet, or laptop. All you’d have to do is tap in the statistics during the games, tap ‘Save’, then your scores and statistics will be on your site instantly.
Get Started Today
You can start building your league by signing up for RecLeague.net today. We’ll help you set up league registration, accept payment online, generate a schedule of games and a calendar, and help you keep track of scores and statistics. You’ll even be able to post articles, upload pictures, and share videos.