COVID-19 has affected everyone, particularly the Sport & Leisure industry. Sport clubs, camps, and all of Park & Rec are shut down. Duncan from Soccer World, Hamilton Ontario’s indoor sport facility, is not standing still though. He took this opportunity to try and offer online classes on Zoom. Soccer World started with Football and Soccer classes catering to young children and tennagers. Here are the lessons he’s learned after running online classes for 2 weeks.
Avoid no-shows and refunds. Send parents reminders with the Zoom meeting connection information 1 hour before. Sending by both email and SMS works best. Soccer World uses Activity Messenger to email and text participants.
Every class has a different Meeting ID to ensure participants from another class don’t accidentally join the wrong class. Duncan chose not to use a password to simplify the meeting join process. Participants always start in a waiting room. This ensures that the coach captures the initial video feed.
Soccer World uses a laptop to run the meeting. The laptop connects a large Television for the coach to see participants from a distance in the big gallery view. The microphone ensures best sound capture. The laptop uses a wired connection instead of wifi to eliminate all risks of a bad internet connection. The technical assistant also has an extra laptop to monitor organization email and send parents who haven’t received the meeting invites.
The coach is busy driving the class. Having another person handle the technical aspects of the Zoom meeting is essential. The technical assistant checks that everyone is present by looking at the registration roster. If participants are not online the tech can reach out and re-send meeting invitations.
The coach starts the Zoom meeting 1 minute prior or before to start the recording and capture the video feed. He/she greets participants by reading their name from the screen ID or by asking them. The tech can unmute and allow talking. The tech writes names on a whiteboard to allow the coach to call out participants during the class to encourage them.
Participants are sometimes outside. If the wifi quality is poor, the tech or coach can ask them to come inside to improve video quality.
Participants are at home and restricted in space and material. For online soccer classes, participants are asked to have an 8x8ft space, a soccer ball, two hockey pucks or cans of soup to represent cones, and a water bottle. The coach makes sure everyone has the proper material at the start of the class.
Duncan has found that some participants are not always in their living room. Sometimes they are outside in the alley or the backyard. Other times in a hallway or the garage.
Soccer World has been running classes with both the host and participant videos turned on. The participant video lets the coach see participants and interact with them. They can correct a wrong move or provide encouragement.
The coach is the only one with sound. Participants are muted on entry. It is important for the coach to see participants, but they don’t need to hear them. The tech can turn on the sound for a participant if asked by the coach. The tech also ensures late joining participants have audio on mute.
Zoom allows you to use the computer for video, and telephone for audio. Duncan chose to remove the phone option to make things simpler. Something less to manage. It also makes the zoom invitation cleaner with less information.
Duncan found that 30 to 40 minutes is the best running time. Online classes are physically demanding for the coach as they are doing all the exercises. In person the class would run for 60 minutes and the coach would walk around to attend to each participant. Online it is different. The coach must keep moving to keep the video feed fluid.
At the end of the class the coach will do a group cheer with the younger ones. The technical assistant will turn on the microphone for all.
The coach will also do a sales pitch, to ask participants to invite their friends to the next session.
Classes should run at the same time each day. They should run everyday if possible. This allows the parents to fit the class in their schedule and make it a recurring event. Kids then look forward to the daily online class.
Teens have shifted their daily schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not having to go to school they game all night and get up very late in the morning. Soccer World caters to them with late morning and early afternoon classes. They also started offering evening classes to accommodate for working parents.
Soccer World uses Amilia to sell classes online. Online classes are sold as drop-ins allowing parents to pick and choose the classes to fit their schedule. Soccer World offers a 3 for 2 discount.
I hope these lessons can serve you well. In finishing, here are a few quotes Soccer World gathered from parents:
That was so cool!! He enjoyed himself, he was sad when it ended. He said “I wanna do it again!”
It helps to have something booked in the morning to get some energy out.
My daughter doesn’t like online classes but because the coach keeps saying her name and encouraging her she stays engaged.