Club Growth in Youth Sports

Capstone Course Grows Local Soccer Club Club

Students in David Pierce’s senior capstone course in sports management presented growth strategies for USF Real, a youth soccer club in Indianapolis.

The club approached the Sports Innovation Institute looking for innovative ways to grow participation in the club and bolster its value proposition in the competitive soccer club market.

Students use human-centered design to frame and solve club's problems.

Students used human-centered design to approach framing and solving problems for USF. The students utilized a variety of approaches to understand the problem:

  1. Contextual inquiry – interviews and observation
  2. Data synthesis – empathy maps and root issue analysis
  3. Ideation – Answering bold “how might we” questions
  4. Prototype – developing initial ideas and soliciting user feedback

A diverse set of solutions were developed by the student groups.

  1. A new vision for a coaching academy that would distinguish USF as a destination for developing coaches
  2. Implementation of technology that helps coaches communicate better with players
  3. A scouting system that would identify and attract players on top clubs that are not receiving playing time to improve the performance of the club’s premier teams
  4. A new, modern website focused on telling the team’s story to prospective parents with the information they are looking for regarding time commitment, price, and fit
  5. Moving away from the traditional club-based competition model and moving to a training academy model
  6. Strategic moves that added teams at ages 8, 9, and 10 and the development of a soccer pathway that emphasizes skill development so that the club is a destination for players looking to take their next step on their soccer journey.

I have never had a class like this before in my life… This project was as close to real life as school can get and I loved every minute of it.  Read more from student Jeremy Imes

Technical director and coach Sam Thomas, Sports Management ’19, discusses the importance of the project to USF Real.

Description of the video:

Sam Thomas: So what I took away from this experience was that there are a lot of great ideas that we can implement into the club now. For example with websites and academy level and different things like that. We will take these ideas and we’re going to put them into our club and it will make an immediate impact. I’m very excited to get started with that.