Talk about old school. Is Dodge Ball really back? Was it ever gone? If the impressive registration numbers for MCCS Okinawa’s Dodge Ball tournaments are any indication, the answer is Dodge Ball is as popular as ever.
So, if you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon, it’s time to get on the ball!
Dodge Ball – As Popular As Ever
Like all new programs, we started advertising our Dodge Ball leagues and tournaments well in advance of opening day in hopes of giving registration a good head start. We didn’t anticipate the response.
Men and women from all over the island joined the program, enthusiastically filling league rosters and thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout the season. Interestingly, most of them were very serious players, proving you can take the kid out of the schoolyard, but not the schoolyard out of the kid (or something like that).
Our Dodge Ball numbers have been on the rise ever since (we even added the sport to our world-famous “Semper Fit” program).
So, where did this sudden interest in Dodge Ball come from? Is it from the popular 2004 movie, Dodgeball, starring Vince Vaugh and Ben Stiller?”
Honestly, we don’t know. But, it looks like the sport is here to stay.
How To Start A Dodge Ball League
Semper Fit’s program manager, Mike Desmone, is our go-to guy when we want to start a league from scratch. He’s done it several times.
So, when he heard of the desire to begin the sport, he gathered the necessary equipment/resources and put his team to work.
His first step was to determine the appropriate age group to target. Once he got past the fact that someone could get hit in the face with the ball (this is Dodge Ball, if you sign up for it, you know what’s involved), he realized this is a great sport for both kids and adults. So, he built leagues for a variety of ages.
However, if you already have more than enough youth programs and want to gear your league toward adults, one word of caution -- make sure your game schedule makes it easy for them to participate.
For example, 5 p.m. on a Friday night might not be a great idea, unless you also offer something that will keep your player’s children occupied. At MCCS, we find Saturday mornings and mid-afternoons work best for adult leagues. This way folks can get their playtime in before working on their weekend “To Do” list.
Also, when we launched our adult league, we made sure to reach out to local law enforcement and fire departments, pitching them the sport as a healthy, aggressive activity that was easy on the body for anyone over 30. It worked well for us.
Use Tournaments To Build Popularity
Whenever we launch a new league, we always make sure to include several tournaments. We find these tournaments are a great way to increase the sport’s popularity both with existing players/teams and those who are looking for a new sport, activity or hobby.
It’s amazing to see how quickly our gym fills up during a tournament of any kind, but especially Dodge Ball tournaments.
Inevitably, of course, players bring along friends and family members to watch and cheer them on. And, a lot of times, those fans move off the sidelines and into the league when the next session opens up. It’s always more fun to be in the game, than on the bench.
There are several ways to set up a tournament. Normally, teams form themselves and practice on their own. However, if you want, you can have an open registration where individuals, families or teams can sign up (and anybody who does not have a team can be assigned to one or you can organize individuals into teams for the tournament).
Dodge Ball teams carry a roster of eight to 10 players and should wear a similar shirt/uniform. For this reason, it may be a good idea to include matching team shirts in your registration fee.
The MCCS tournaments are held on weekends over the course of two days using a variety of elimination formats based on the number of teams registered. (Tournament-scheduling software can make short work of developing tournament draws and brackets. One good program is Tournament Scheduler Pro. You can download a free trial at www.allprosoftware.com/ts/.)
Find A Sponsor
The last objective to building a successful new sport league is to find a sponsor. For whatever reason, we’ve found leagues with sponsors continue to gain momentum and, for you, it’s nice to have some money to underwrite the cost of the new program.
One of the best ways to find a sponsor is to ensure they receive a great return on their investment (ROI). We do that by hanging a banner with the sponsor’s information on it in a prominent location and then tracking the number of patron’s who enter the gym each day and how long they are there. We provide this information to the sponsor as proof that they’re money is buying good exposure.
Other good ideas include: placing the sponsor’s logo on the team shirts, playing balls, and/or scoreboard.
It’s amazing. A simple sticker here and there and a nice big banner go a long way with sponsoring companies.
When you’re pitching a new company on becoming a sponsor, consider taking a picture of your gym and either show the potential sponsor where their information could be located or give them a print-out with the banner and logo pasted into the photo.
Help them visualize their logo and their banner in your gym. Remember, logos are just like names. People like their logos. If you’re able to illustrate what you envision for them, it’s easier to get buy-in.
Proper Dodge Ball Equipment
The most important thing you must have is the right equipment. Dodge Balls are very different from the one’s we played with as kids. For example, the one’s sold by the International Dodge Ball Federation are specifically manufactured. According to their web site, “they feature a low-pressure butyl bladder, durable polyester fabric cover to minimize sting, 2.5 mm foam layer for softer feel and are triple-lined for extended durability. The goal: no stinging and low mass transfers to avoid injury.”
Make sure you order the proper equipment so you prevent injuries and other potential problems. Dodge Balls can be ordered purchased from your favorite retailer or from the International Dodge Ball Federation.
Kati Trammel is the advertising and public relations account executive for MCCS Marketing, Semper Fit Retail, Food and Beverage based in Okinawa, Japan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about how to start a league, contact Aubrie Hughes at email@example.com, Mike Desmone at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://dodge-ball.com/site/main.php and download their step-by-step guide on how to start a Dodge Ball league.