Establish Competitions

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5. Establish competitions

At the heart of your club is the programme of competitions, training, coaching, matches, leagues and social activities that you provide for your members. This is what attracts your members to join – and keeps them in membership.

Each person wants to enjoy the sport at their own level; many want to improve their skills; some want to engage in competition with others; and most members will also enjoy some social events with their friends in the club.

Sport England has produced a useful document entitled, “Organising Fixtures and Competitions” which outlines and explains many of the different types of competition formats you can run. This can be found in PDF format at:

Sport England: Organising Fixtures & Competitions

Some examples are as follows:

* Leagues

* Ladders

* Play-offs

* Knock-out

* Double-elimination

* Swiss System

The above document also details seeding and handicap systems, as well as how to make fair and transparent draws for the above and useful general advice on putting fixtures together and managing your team. You may decide to undertake some or all of these competition formats, or integrate a few into a larger or long-term competition (e.g. over the course of a season).

It is up to you and your committee to decide upon how to develop your club, based on the characteristics of your club and what your members want. Knowing what YOU want from the competition is vital to making it successful and enjoyable for everybody, and defining your objectives will help you to decide the best type of competitions for your club.

The above were examples of different formats you might use, but are applicable to most sports. Some examples of alternative pool formats and disciplines you may like to try out are:

* Singles

* Team

* Doubles (both “regular” and “scotch”)

* Mixed-doubles

* Speed Pool

* 8-ball

* 9-ball

* 10-ball

* Killer

* 14-1 / Straight Pool

Further details on these disciplines can be found using the links within a comprehensive glossary of cue sport terms, found at:

Wikipedia Glossary_of_cue_sports_terms

As alluded to above, whilst it is always good to try new initiatives, you should also tailor your calendar and events to what your members want.

Remember that if players are always playing against people of very different skills and abilities, it can be hard to sustain motivation. As your club grows, you will probably want to develop a more coherent “player pathway” to encourage progression from recreational or novice players to more competitive and experienced levels of play.

However, don’t forget that many members also enjoy the social side of any club and the opportunity to make new friends – your events may include some “fun” activities as well as competitive ones.

any of the more experienced players will want to have some very competitive activities, and for this, whilst you can organise internal leagues, ladders and other competitions (for your university in general and/or your pool club), you may need to look outside of your own club/university. Obviously, the UPC provide a number of events for you to participate in (, but there are also inter-club leagues and competitions which you may like to send a team to compete in regularly.

It is important however to ensure all team selection is both transparent and fair so that cliques don’t develop and no arguments occur – it has been known for some club secretaries to pick themselves despite previously failing at their club trials!

The delivery of quality coaching sessions plays a large part in any club’s development. Appropriately qualified and prepared coaches will deliver sessions to your club members that will not only improve their performance but will ensure that all members reach the levels to which they aspire to. This will be achieved in a fun, safe, and secure environment. Clubs with good quality coaches will become successful and will attract new members. However, you may not need to look outside of your own club – your better players may like and are probably best-placed to offer advice and guidance to the rest of your club – perhaps have regular practice nights involving tuition of specific rules.

One good way of maximising potential throughout your club is by way of a “buddy” mentoring system – your club members are paired off and throughout the year they will work to improve their partner. This need not only be one way – the mentor will analyse his/her own game through the mentoring process and improve themselves. Moreover, there’ll be a cross-section of skills and specialisms in your club and so, if you apply some thought to the pairing, both partners will gain from it.

Maximising the potential of your members should be an integral part of your club philosophy, just as much as having fun and enjoying yourselves. Set your club targets each year and look to build on the previous seasons’ efforts in planning new ones for the year ahead.

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