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View Full Version : Help! - Coordinating Your Tennis Team


JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 07:17 AM
For USTA team captains and team members how do you usually coordinate/communicate with your team? Do you use TennisOne or any other similar sites, e-mail, or other methods (smoke signals ;) )? What are the pros and cons of your preferred method?

What type of web application or tool would make it easier to communicate and collaborate with your team or teammates off or on court?

FYI - I'm working on a paper for my Computer Supported Collaborative Work class. My professor is pretty cool, so hes letting me do it on using computer applications to organize a tennis team.

alice301
11-17-2009, 08:07 AM
For USTA team captains and team members how do you usually coordinate/communicate with your team? Do you use TennisOne or any other similar sites, e-mail, or other methods (smoke signals ;) )? What are the pros and cons of your preferred method?

What type of web application or tool would make it easier to communicate and collaborate with your team or teammates off or on court?

FYI - I'm working on a paper for my Computer Supported Collaborative Work class. My professor is pretty cool, so hes letting me do it on using computer applications to organize a tennis team.

i plan to waft the scent of freshly-baked cookies in their direction. if that fails, i'll hunt them down, one. by. one. last year, i emailed everyone each week. the response rate was about 40%. those that didn't respond weren't invited back on the team.

i'll keep you posted on how the cookie plan works out...

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 08:19 AM
i plan to waft the scent of freshly-baked cookies in their direction. if that fails, i'll hunt them down, one. by. one. last year, i emailed everyone each week. the response rate was about 40%. those that didn't respond weren't invited back on the team.

i'll keep you posted on how the cookie plan works out...

So I need a computer app that e-mails cookies? ;)

Thanks for the comment. I didn't really think about the no-replies when sending out e-mails.

fe6250
11-17-2009, 08:30 AM
I use TennisOne and it works great once you get used to it as it's not overly intuitive about some things. The one major drawback is that every team has a player or two that is completely computer illiterate and is unable to check an e-mail more than once a month. You have to use an alternate method (cookies?) for those individuals.

andfor
11-17-2009, 08:36 AM
Group email works best. Much better than the old way, phone calls. Never tried a program like TennisOne.

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 08:44 AM
I use TennisOne and it works great once you get used to it as it's not overly intuitive about some things. The one major drawback is that every team has a player or two that is completely computer illiterate and is unable to check an e-mail more than once a month. You have to use an alternate method (cookies?) for those individuals.

What things did you find were not so intuitive?

fe6250
11-17-2009, 10:21 AM
What things did you find were not so intuitive?

I don't know that I can remember all of them! One I remember is that when you reschedule a rain out it can cause some interesting e-mails. There is no specific feature to reschedule a match, so you simply go into the match and set a different date. This can work fine if the match is played in one go with the same line-up, but if you end up splitting the match to get it in and using a variety of players - you can end up getting e-mails sent to the wrong players reminding them of the match they have coming up. Also - multiple matches in the same week seemed to confuse my team too with the auto-notifications.

In the end - I turned the auto-notifications 'off' and did this manually. Not sure if that helps - but sorry I can't remember more details.

JD

CrocodileRock
11-17-2009, 10:37 AM
Maybe I'm old school, but I like phone calls the best. It's a little more of a hassle, and a lot more time consuming, but it's also more personal, and you know they got and understood the message. In the end, nothing beats a real conversation.

fe6250
11-17-2009, 11:02 AM
Maybe I'm old school, but I like phone calls the best. It's a little more of a hassle, and a lot more time consuming, but it's also more personal, and you know they got and understood the message. In the end, nothing beats a real conversation.

I call people for match day changes but have to limit it to those I know won't check their e-mail or to confirm those who don't respond. If it weren't for my iPhone and laptop, I couldn't be a captain from the road. Sending out 1 e-mail to 8 people takes a lot less time than calling 8 people. It's hard to find people to captain these days and while I agree with your sentiment, it's not practical for most people.

JavierLW
11-17-2009, 11:16 AM
For USTA team captains and team members – how do you usually coordinate/communicate with your team? Do you use TennisOne or any other similar sites, e-mail, or other methods (smoke signals ;) )? What are the pros and cons of your preferred method?

What type of web application or tool would make it easier to communicate and collaborate with your team or teammates – off or on court?

FYI - I'm working on a paper for my Computer Supported Collaborative Work class. My professor is pretty cool, so he’s letting me do it on using computer applications to organize a tennis team.

Email works best. Usually it has to be done right though. If you have a set time every week where people know the email is coming and you send it to EVERYONE (not just the people who are playing) then people know something is wrong if they dont see it.

I send mine out the night after each match so everyone has a week's notice that they are playing.

Ive been on other teams where the captain ONLY emails the people who are playing. Well that's bad because if for some reason one of them doesnt receive the email, they assume they are not playing. (plus it makes everyone feel more like being on a team when everyone gets the email and it invites them to show up if they want to)

And other teams Ive been on send the emails at random times during the week and sometimes even as late as the night before the match. That's just as bad, and actually if you wait too long, you better start calling people, dont expect that everyone is checking their email 24/7 or that they havent made plans while they are waiting for you to send the email out.

Webpages work great for storing information but they are not good if you are solely relying on them for communication because not everyone checks them regularly. I see a lot of people including our local league post things to webpages expecting that somehow it magically means everyone is seeing it....

Usually I end up emailing a link to something on a webpage, the webpage is just more or less a way to keep from flooding their email with numerous attachments.

Some people are not even "email" people and that's a problem with me. It sucks but I tend to try to only get people on my team that I know I can communicate with.

I remember being a captain without even a cell phone and I used to have to choose between having fun playing tennis tonight, or making a ton of phone calls at home. (I didnt live anywhere near my tennis club)

Cindysphinx
11-17-2009, 11:41 AM
I use Google on-line spreadsheets.

I set up a Google spreadsheet and give all players the ability to edit it. I list all the matches for the season, and there are columns for unavailable players, doubles 1/2/3, and alternates for each match. Players list themselves as unavailable for matches they can't play; otherwise they are assumed to be available. I then fill in the line-ups. Players can always see what they've entered for the unavailability without asking me.

I used to use e-mail, but e-mail drove me crazy. I was responsible for keeping track of the availability changes of 18 people, and sometimes I made mistakes. People often forgot whether they told me something, so they would just e-mail me and tell me again. Or they would think they had told me but hadn't. I also noticed that some people have an unfortunate habit of hitting "reply all" a lot and filling everyone's in-box with messages better sent to the captain. After a while, players are drowning in e-mail and start missing important stuff.

Also, I think it works best if all team information is out in the open. If someone wants to know who their partner is, how many matches they have played, where the next match will be . . . they can find this info on the spreadsheet and need not ask me.

I do not like TennisOne. In my experience, there will always be 1 or 2 players who have trouble with it, so the captain winds up putting everything into TennisOne and then e-mailing the same information. Double the burden on everyone.

I also don't like my players getting a TennisOne match reminder unless they are playing, so I find the automated reminders/line-up messages bothersome.

I also have trouble with TennisOne's format. With the spreadsheet, I can see everything related to that entire season (schedule, availability, substitutions) on one sheet of paper. TennisOne requires too much clicking around to get a sense of things.

If I could design something, I would take the Google spreadsheet approach and tweak it. As it stands, the formatting options are more limited than they should be. It's really a wonderful application. It has never once denied anyone access, lost information, been unavailable when I needed it. Very impressive.

Cindysphinx
11-17-2009, 11:51 AM
Ive been on other teams where the captain ONLY emails the people who are playing. Well that's bad because if for some reason one of them doesnt receive the email, they assume they are not playing. (plus it makes everyone feel more like being on a team when everyone gets the email and it invites them to show up if they want to)



That's an interesting thought. I always felt just the opposite.

I sort of operate on the premise that Less Is More. If you keep giving people extraneous information, they start tuning it out.

For my team, if you get an e-mail that says "MATCH REMINDER: Monday, Nov. 1 at 9:30 pm at Sommerset Country Club v. Walker team", you had better wake the heck up. Because it means one thing and one thing only: You are playing a match that night.

When I am on teams where I get line-ups/match reminders and I am not playing, my heart starts pounding as I scroll around hoping like heck I haven't screwed up and forgotten about a match. Then I find that, no, I wasn't set to play. False alarm. After a while, I am just a little slower about opening those e-mails, because they are mostly false alarms.

Regarding the risk that someone won't get an e-mail if you only send it to the people who are playing . . . I absolutely insist on an e-mail reply. If I don't get one, I re-send. If I still don't get one, I get on the phone. Problem solved.

JavierLW
11-17-2009, 12:08 PM
That's an interesting thought. I always felt just the opposite.

I sort of operate on the premise that Less Is More. If you keep giving people extraneous information, they start tuning it out.

For my team, if you get an e-mail that says "MATCH REMINDER: Monday, Nov. 1 at 9:30 pm at Sommerset Country Club v. Walker team", you had better wake the heck up. Because it means one thing and one thing only: You are playing a match that night.

When I am on teams where I get line-ups/match reminders and I am not playing, my heart starts pounding as I scroll around hoping like heck I haven't screwed up and forgotten about a match. Then I find that, no, I wasn't set to play. False alarm. After a while, I am just a little slower about opening those e-mails, because they are mostly false alarms.

Regarding the risk that someone won't get an e-mail if you only send it to the people who are playing . . . I absolutely insist on an e-mail reply. If I don't get one, I re-send. If I still don't get one, I get on the phone. Problem solved.

Well it may be different because in your league you have many matches at all sorts of random times and dates during the week.

Our's are always on the same night, so Im only talking about everyone receiving one email a week about the match, and we typically only have between 4-6 players who are NOT playing that are going to open it, see they are not playing and then probably close it. (unless they want to show up and watch which actually does happen around here)

If our matches were all sorts of random days, my way wouldnt work for me either because not everyone checks their email 24/7 at any random time.

Otherwise if lot of other issues come up I am aware that sending out too many emails is confusing, so I usually have to start calling people because I agree with you, when they get too many they begin to ignore them (which causes a lot of problems)

I also try to make sure they are not too long and just stick to the important parts (like "PLEASE SHOW UP AND DONT BE LATE!!!!").

Also a lot of our players are people who work all day, they dont have time to be screwing around looking at spreadsheets or checking websites daily. It was hard enough to get them to use email so Im glad they at least check that.

I still make plenty of spreadsheets (to show them how often they are playing, keep track of our team schedule, keep track of money, availability, etc....). But if I had to rely on something as important as having them actually show up, I wouldnt leave it to a website to expect they know about it. (websites are just "there", you have to ASSume people check them, emails are sort of like notifying them that they are to appear)

Sure false alarms suck as well. But when you combine randomly timed emails with selective emails, you're just asking to have someone not show up because they "missed" a email.

Ive been on both types of teams, and I would feel a lot better receiving an email to the whole team if Im not playing, then no email at all. Sure Id rather play but it's not like NOT hearing from anyone makes me feel any better about it. (great, not only am I not playing, they didnt even think enough to let me know what's going on....)

Perhaps you dont care about your own teams or how well they do, but lots of players do, you'd be pretty surprised. That's part of the fun of being on a team, versus just a random assortment of players who just show up for their personal tennis match.

Spokewench
11-17-2009, 12:20 PM
I mostly use group emails. However, that is not fullproof because some people are older and don't use email on a daily basis and some just don't check them even if you ask them to. So, it can be problematic, but so far, it is the best tool I utilize. I fear that many of my team members would never get one of the sites or software that some people use to organize their teams. First, most of those software systems expect that the team members are self-motivating and will be proactive in using the sites; the other issue is that a lot of my members have a hard time getting on a website like USTA to sign up for the team; so if I had another software system they needed to figure out, I would be on the phone more often than not answering questions about how to use the site rather than actually getting something done in an email communication.

spoke

JavierLW
11-17-2009, 12:33 PM
Regarding the risk that someone won't get an e-mail if you only send it to the people who are playing . . . I absolutely insist on an e-mail reply. If I don't get one, I re-send. If I still don't get one, I get on the phone. Problem solved.

You must have a lot more time on your hands then I do.

I would go nuts if I have to go thru all that for every match.

I dont need to do that because everyone knows they are getting the email at the same time every week. If they dont get it they will ask.

Having matches on the same night of the week has a lot of advantages, it's easier for players to let me know if they are unavailable (because matches dont fall on other days of the week where they have other weekly commitments).

We also dont need to add as many extra players beyond who plays so there are less players finding out that they dont get to play. (I had 15 this year which was way too many for our purposes, one year we got away with 11)

innoVAShaun
11-17-2009, 01:05 PM
Email and Text Messages. Some cell phones can even create mass text groups.

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:07 PM
Email works best. Usually it has to be done right though. If you have a set time every week where people know the email is coming and you send it to EVERYONE (not just the people who are playing) then people know something is wrong if they dont see it.

I send mine out the night after each match so everyone has a week's notice that they are playing....



Good insight JavierLW. Thanks for the post!!

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:14 PM
I use Google on-line spreadsheets.

I set up a Google spreadsheet and give all players the ability to edit it. I list all the matches for the season, and there are columns for unavailable players, doubles 1/2/3, and alternates for each match. Players list themselves as unavailable for matches they can't play; otherwise they are assumed to be available. I then fill in the line-ups. Players can always see what they've entered for the unavailability without asking me......



Great post Cindy. Your example of using an open spreadsheet that everyone can edit is a good example of a collaborative app - let me check this out. I may have more questions later if you don't mind.

kennydoe
11-17-2009, 01:26 PM
I like this thread - i never heard of tennisone - gonna check it out.

I know there's a way to do a google spread sheet, but I think that would be too much to ask of my players - to log in, change things, etc.

I keep a spreadsheet of all players on one axis ad all matches on the other.

I made a group of my players on Outlook and when i type "2009 team" in the 'to' field, all my players are emailed at once.

I ask for one of three responses,,,
1. Yes
2. No
3. I will play, but only if you absolutely need me to

As their replies come in, i mark them on the spreadsheet as red or green (no or yes).

Early birds, for the most part, get the worm. When i have picked out my players for the match, i send another team email letting everyone know who is playing and who is on "the bench" (available, but not scheduled to play).

I'm curious to know, how far in advance do you other captains book their players? I'm trying 7-10 days in advance this year. I went further out last year, but it created too much opportunity for cancellations.

kennydoe
11-17-2009, 01:28 PM
Oh...i forgot to mention...I use a contact management website for my own business called iContact.

I made a group of just my team, and i can email them thru there from any computer in the world...using this method, i can check to see who received the mail, even if they didn't reply.

OrangePower
11-17-2009, 01:40 PM
As a new captain a year ago I was going through the process of deciding how to do this... I had just about decided on using Cindy's approach (google spreadsheet)... but then Norcal released their own set of tools for players and captains. I have found the Norcal solution to be pretty good, all things considered. But you have to be in Norcal to benefit from this. (For those who don't know, Norcal has it's own system and Norcal members do not use tennislink directly.)

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:42 PM
First, most of those software systems expect that the team members are self-motivating and will be proactive in using the sites; the other issue is that a lot of my members have a hard time getting on a website like USTA to sign up for the team; .

spoke

Another big issue for collaborative software and groupware - it's motivation of the users to use the system. At some level the players know it will benefit them, but they don't want to burden of learning a new system or having to put the effort into using it.


Cindy/JavierLW - I think there are pro/cons to both e-mail approaches. I could see how in Javier's situation, a single e-mail to everyone may work. I also can see how some may prefer to only get an e-mail. DOn't see right or wrong here - just the right approach for the right situation.

-From a non-captain standpoint - and someone who lives close to Cindy's area....

Personally, since I play on multiple teams and our matches are at random times on random days, I only want to see an e-mail for the matches that I'm playing. It's hard enough digging thorugh my inbox and keeping track of all of my matches. I have a heart attack when I see six different TennisOne reminders then feel annoyed when I go through all six and I might only be listed on the roster in one of those e-mails.

However, when I used to play on soccer teams and we had only one game every week on a single night, I wanted to get the e-mail even if I didn't play as I may want to show up or catch a burger and some brews with the team afterwards.

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:43 PM
-Some other random thoughts:

-I think for players it would be helpful to have an app with a calendar view that consolidates all the match reminders from different teams in one calendar. As it is now, I'm diging through e-mails or hoping through 5 different TennisOne team web pages.

-On thing that's always bugged me about a tennis team is that it's possible to play and meet only a few team members. I hate showing up to a match and wandering around blindly asking if someone if from my team. It would be nice to at least have a web page where I could find out what my team memebers look like - but then there's th issue of motivation for people to post pictures.....

What do you think??

-BTW- This is great, I get to post to TW but still feel like I'm getting my homework done. LOL!!!!

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:47 PM
Oh...i forgot to mention...I use a contact management website for my own business called iContact.

I made a group of just my team, and i can email them thru there from any computer in the world...using this method, i can check to see who received the mail, even if they didn't reply.

Good posts. I'll have to check iContact out.

BTW- On how early capts send out line-ups. Depends on the capt. Some send out a week in advance and ask for confirmation. Others trust the scheduling info and send it out 2-3 days before. I have one captain that schedules week-by-week - sends out a "can you play" e-mail on sundays/mondays and works out the line-up, then sends a final notification Weds/Thursday.

JRstriker12
11-17-2009, 01:48 PM
As a new captain a year ago I was going through the process of deciding how to do this... I had just about decided on using Cindy's approach (google spreadsheet)... but then Norcal released their own set of tools for players and captains. I have found the Norcal solution to be pretty good, all things considered. But you have to be in Norcal to benefit from this. (For those who don't know, Norcal has it's own system and Norcal members do not use tennislink directly.)

Very interesting. I wish I could take a look at this system.

Is it similar to tennisone? Is it easy to use? Do you like it? What are the pro's/cons....

Cindysphinx
11-17-2009, 02:00 PM
Also a lot of our players are people who work all day, they dont have time to be screwing around looking at spreadsheets or checking websites daily. It was hard enough to get them to use email so Im glad they at least check that.

I still make plenty of spreadsheets (to show them how often they are playing, keep track of our team schedule, keep track of money, availability, etc....). But if I had to rely on something as important as having them actually show up, I wouldnt leave it to a website to expect they know about it. (websites are just "there", you have to ASSume people check them, emails are sort of like notifying them that they are to appear)

Yes, it would be foolish to set up a spreadsheet or website etc. and expect people to check it daily and stay on top of things. Which is precisely why I don't do it that way.

When the season schedule comes out, I tell the team to go check the schedule and note their unavailability. I then put the line-ups on the spreadsheet and tell them it is ready for their viewing pleasure. That's it. No other communication needs to happen, because they can all read and see when they are playing. Then, two days before the match, I send out a match reminder to those six players to make sure no one forgot. No need to consult the thing daily, as it doesn't change. But it is there is they do want to check something.

Sure false alarms suck as well. But when you combine randomly timed emails with selective emails, you're just asking to have someone not show up because they "missed" a email.

Huh? The six people who will play get *one* e-mail, a reminder that they are playing. I send it out two days before the match because that gives me time to scramble for subs if something is amiss.

You are free to do things differently, of course. Just understand that other ways can work also. I have never -- not once -- had a player no-show because she "missed" an e-mail. Remember, if that Match Reminder is not acknowledged, I consider it a huge big deal and I will get to the bottom of it.

Ive been on both types of teams, and I would feel a lot better receiving an email to the whole team if Im not playing, then no email at all. Sure Id rather play but it's not like NOT hearing from anyone makes me feel any better about it. (great, not only am I not playing, they didnt even think enough to let me know what's going on....)

I would like to think my players know they are valued and there is no need to stroke them by sending them e-mail reminders about matches they are not playing. :)

See, I tend to be on multiple teams. Playing on multiple nights of the week. Playing in multiple jurisdictions. I have been on as many as 4 teams in a 12-week season. If every captain is going to send me a reminder about every single match for the entire season regardless of whether I am playing, I will pull my hair out in clumps.

Perhaps you dont care about your own teams or how well they do, but lots of players do, you'd be pretty surprised. That's part of the fun of being on a team, versus just a random assortment of players who just show up for their personal tennis match.

Oh, Javier! You're so funny! One of a kind, truly! Was the bolded part there really necessary? :)

Anyway, do you know how often my players have said to me, "Hey, how come I'm not getting match reminders for the matches I'm not playing? Do you not value me?"

Right. Never.

Cindysphinx
11-17-2009, 02:10 PM
You must have a lot more time on your hands then I do.

I would go nuts if I have to go thru all that for every match.

Go through all what?

The match is coming up. Everyone knows whether they are or are not playing. Two days before the match, I send a single e-mail to the six players, reminding them of the match and giving them any other info they may need (e.g. dress code).

When they get it, they hit "Reply" and type the word "OK."

When I have received six such replies, my work is done. Sometimes someone will forget to hit "Reply". Then I have to follow up with that person. Usually they just forgot to reply, but sometimes there was confusion or a big change in circumstance (death in the family) that I didn't know about. Following up is a pain, but it has saved us from defaults many times.

If you are setting your line-ups weekly, then obviously there is less chance that someone will need a reminder. I choose not to do line-ups weekly, although many captains around here do. I feel I get the best line-ups and distribution of playing time by scheduling 3-4 weeks out.

Plus, I don't like thinking about line-ups every single week. Once I do a chunk of 4-5 matches that cover the coming month, I don't have to think about it again. I kind of like having that little break, because doing line-ups is a huge pain.

Cindysphinx
11-17-2009, 02:14 PM
It would be nice to at least have a web page where I could find out what my team memebers look like - but then there's th issue of motivation for people to post pictures.....

What do you think??

-BTW- This is great, I get to post to TW but still feel like I'm getting my homework done. LOL!!!!

Happy to help you with your homework!! :)

I have never been on a team with a web site for bonding. I do know one lady who was on such a team. I've forgotten the term for it, but it is like YahooGroups, a message board like this one. She was very frustrated by it. She said you had messages with important information like line-ups mixed in with someone's tale about someone's cat being sick. She didn't have time to wade through all of that.

JavierLW
11-17-2009, 03:58 PM
You are free to do things differently, of course. Just understand that other ways can work also. I have never -- not once -- had a player no-show because she "missed" an e-mail. Remember, if that Match Reminder is not acknowledged, I consider it a huge big deal and I will get to the bottom of it.

I would like to think my players know they are valued and there is no need to stroke them by sending them e-mail reminders about matches they are not playing. :)

Anyway, do you know how often my players have said to me, "Hey, how come I'm not getting match reminders for the matches I'm not playing? Do you not value me?"

Right. Never.

Of course Im free to do things differently. And it works. Just on the one team Ive run we've only had one individual default in six years and that was because some guy didnt read the email right and went to the wrong place. (and didnt pay attention when I had the schedule posted on the website which we had as well)

The email I sent out also has the results from the current match on it. If I dont send that out, whether you want to believe it or now, I will get 3 or 4 calls from players wondering what happened. Sure they could check tennislink but not everyone bothers to do that if they think they can just ask me.

Maybe you're someone who doesnt really care how your team did if you didnt play but not everyone is like that.

And I can say things like that because obviously you are making a point that somehow Im being silly by giving my players extra information....

Nobody's ever complained?, good for you!

Jim A
11-17-2009, 04:42 PM
I think by default men's teams are quite a bit more low maintenance than the women....

we had one email a week that went out with the location, lineup and if we were hosting what everyone was responsible to bring.

for the most part everyone provided certain weeks they were unavailable..the captain scheduled some weaker players vs the weaker squads where they would be less of a liability and made sure he had the lineups he wanted against our 3 most important opponents