Keeping Your Ground In Decent Knick

How to keep your ground playable: come rain or shine.

Stay vigilant and take action as soon as you can!  

In order to keep your players happy and motivated it’s important that you keep your ground in a decent condition – fail to do so and you might well find that your players will leave to play at another ground that offers them better facilities. Regardless of what sport you host, it’s crucial to take good care of both the ground that you play on, as well as the amenities that come with it, they are a source of pride for your players, members and supporters.

I’ve put down just a few suggestions for what you should keep an eye out for in order to keep your pitch in good condition:

Dumping & Fly-Tipping

For many people a large open green space is a wonderful thing, especially in a built up urban city area, however there are the minority who see this green space as an opportunity to dump unwanted construction materials, broken white-goods and other such trash that they might otherwise have to pay to dispose of. Fly-tipping is a nationwide issue that affects landowners across the country, for sports clubs it can be a real nuisance as club members and groundsmen have to allocate precious time to getting rid of this refuse, rather than spending time on working the ground.

How to avoid it? Make sure grounds are inaccessible to the public when it’s not in use. Strong, high gates and fences might not look very attractive but neither does a tip’s worth of rubble

Unauthorised Users

Whilst it’s always good to know that your grounds is being used, sometimes a lovely green open space can attract the kinds of people who might undo the good work that your groundsmen have been doing. Under-age drinkers, delinquents and dog walkers are just a few of the people who can disturb well-laid turf, leave scattered piles of rubbish, light fires and generally cause a nuisance – this isn’t good for the reputation of the club and it certainly isn’t good for the ground.

How to avoid it? Short of keeping a nightwatchman on duty whilst the club is out of use, it can be hard to stop unauthorised users. A top security system and anti-vandal measures can help keep people out though.

Stay Vigilant for Invasive Plants

Britain is a country of avid gardeners which, as nice that sounds, does have its downsides…this country is plagued by numerous invasive plants that are incredibly hardy, fast-growing and can give even the fittest groundsman a heart-attack. Giant hogweed, Rhododendron ponticum, Himalayan balsam and, of course, Japanese knotweed can all play a part in making your ground unplayable, so it’s vital that you keep an eye out for all off them.

How to avoid it? Constant vigilance and immediate action are what’s required to keep on top of invasive plants. Sites like offer advice and professional treatment services for those serious about treating their grounds.

Protection from the Elements

Any groundskeeper worth their salt will be able to tell you how much rainfall and sunlight affects a pitch on a day-to-day basis. If you’re hoping to get consistent games on your ground and make sure that your players become comfortable playing at home then you should protect the vulnerable sections of your ground from any unnecessary water or sun-damage. A cricket wicket that has not been protected from the rain is not worth playing on and could lead to your club being fined by governing body of your league.

How to avoid it? Investing in covers is a must for any grounds that are used during the summer months, the English weather is unpredictable so it’s good to have a man close by to protect the ground as and when.

3 Niche Sports To Engage Students

PE class is often dreaded by many students: how can we change this?

As a PE teacher for many years I’ve seen generations of kids pass through the schools that I’ve worked in, each one of them offering their own unique challenges.

Whilst some kids look forward to PE each week, anticipating the opportunity to run around for an hour, many students find the entire experience impossibly challenging. There are many reasons why a child might dread their weekly hour of exercise. Overweight children often feel self-conscious undressing in the company of their peers, weaker students can might feel threatened in contact sport scenarios whilst some kids might simply believe exercise to be a waste of their time.

I’ve often found that the best way of engaging as many kids in a physical activity as possible is by introducing them to a sport that they haven’t played before. By teaching students a sport that’s new to them you place them on a level playing field of sorts. Whilst aspects like physical fitness and coordination will still have a bearing on an individual’s performance, the learning process serves as a common experience that all the kids can share, bringing them closer together and encouraging cooperation.

Thanks to the proliferation of live streaming many niche sports are starting to gain traction, so in the event of your students becoming interested in pursuing their new sport they can easily hunt down more information, footage and coaching tips using the internet.

These are the niche sports that might well galvanise the non-PE lovers in your class room:


It’s taken almost a hundred years, but Handball is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Invented by the Danish in the late 19th century, this contact sport is relatively simple to pick up (the rules are a cross between basketball and football) and is sure to please the less coordinated students in your group who have difficulty with dribbling a football or handling a rugby ball. Although matches can start out chaotic, after half a term of training this sport can often bring non-sporty individuals out of their shells.


Although technically not a sport, Hacky-Sacks can be bought in large quantities for a small amount of money. There’s not much difference between a Hacky-Sack and a small beanbag other than the circular shape and the material that it’s made with – but it’s this shape that makes them so much fun to play with. You can start out by handing each student a sack to get to grips with, once they understand how to ‘keep-up’ the sack, you can start taking them away, forcing them to work together to improve their skills.

Table Tennis

I understand that many schools might not have the budget to invest in a space to hold permanent table tennis tables, but there are now plenty of temporary or fold-away options that can make this much maligned sport a real hit with your students. Once you’ve got a hold of the tables to play on you should be able to buy 30 table tennis paddles for a relatively good price from a sports wholesaler. Ping pong balls are easily damaged by overzealous players, but they too can also be procured en mass.

How to Save Your Club Money

Don’t let your club’s finances go down the drain!

Over the years I’ve been a witness to many sports clubs shutting down and the chief reason for most of these closures is a lack of funds.

Amateur sports clubs have a history of struggling in the UK largely due to their vast numbers and the practical costs of keeping grounds. Sports grounds are inevitably hired by the club or owned (if the club is rich enough), however the real costs begin to mount when these grounds have to be looked after. For most sports, a certain amount of ground’s keeping is required to keep the pitch or field in a playable state. Winter sports such as rugby and football require the grass to be cut even (to a certain extent) and for lines to be drawn – whilst many of these duties can be performed by volunteers, they are time consuming and many clubs can’t rely on their own members to step up to the challenge.

Rent and grounds keeping are just two ways that a club’s finances can bleed out, there’s also insurance, equipment, licensing, employee salaries and many more things to consider. So, with all these expenses to deal with it’s always a good idea to think about ways that you can save your club money, so that you can avoid bankruptcy and continue playing.

These money-saving tips are just a few examples of how you could save your sports club a few quid:

Ensure that members’ fees are paid on-time and in full

Members’ fees are often a sports club’s only real source of revenue. In order for the club to stay afloat it’s crucial that every member pitches in. Thanks to the advances of internet banking it’s become easier and easier to track your members’ payments. If someone is behind or is avoiding payment then it’s important to tell them and make it clear that this is simply not acceptable.

Keep your club house fresh and hireable

Your club house can be so much more than just a place to store your equipment. If enough care and attention is paid to the social areas in your club house then you can create extra revenue by hiring your space out for events. Invest in smart furniture and you could even use your clubhouse as a venue for weddings, wakes or life celebrations, bringing your club more bookings and more money.

Buy your club gear through a wholesaler

Although many clubs prefer to order their gear through big brands who also personalise the gear for an added fee, you could save money by purchasing branded goods through a sports wholesaler instead. You can buy wholesale Nike gear through a number of websites online giving you massive savings and then employ a local company to personalise them, who will also be likely to give you a discount on the service.

Make your sports club a social club too

The best way of making money for your club is by holding social events that bring in the friends and families of your players. Casino nights, Fun Days, Karaoke competitions and Dinner & Dances are just a few ways to get people into the club and spending money behind the bar.

Financial Pitfalls Your Club Could Face

I speak from experience when I say that it’s not easy running any sports club.

With so many variables, risks and dangers coming a-cropper in the day to day running of a sport’s team, I thought I’d detail a few of the big ones you should look out for.

It doesn’t matter what the sport is; organising a disparate group of individuals to team together and meet once or twice a week can be next to impossible – and we’ve not even taken into consideration the financial side of things.

These are the most likely financial pitfalls that you could face:

Poorly Maintained Ground

If your ground is poorly maintained then you are putting yourself at financial risk. Like it or not, the members of your club don’t just play for you because they like your company, they play at your ground because you have facilities worth playing on. The maintenance of the ground is where a large proportion of their fees should be going on, it’s a point of pride for many players and also contributes to their enjoyment of the game. If you neglect your ground, your players will find a better club to play for and you’ll fold.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Sports can often be dangerous. Contact games like football or rugby can often be the epicentres of horrific injuries and serious accidents, which is why it’s crucial for your club to be completely covered by insurance at the start of each and every season. Remember that accidents can also occur off the pitch but still within the grounds. Overzealous drinking, raucous private parties and even slips in the shower should all be covered on your policy so that you can avoid any nasty legal surprises.

Theft and Loss

Athletic clubs are often chosen as targets by opportunistic thieves and burglars, in order to avoid becoming the victim of these criminals it’s a good idea to invest in a decent security system that can be easily operated by all club key-holders. Cash handling duties must also be followed strictly, the bar manager should deposit any takings from the bar into a secure safe at the end of each night and should have a clear line of communication with the club treasurer. As with any business, transparency is absolutely necessary when dealing with club finances.

Crumbling Club House

I’ve already mentioned the importance of keeping your ground in good shape, but the same also applies to your club house. In order to keep attracting new players you’ll need to make sure that your club house stays in good shape, that means staying on top of maintenance issues and updating where necessary and within your means. Fail to do so and your problems will compound forcing you to spend more money on surveying equipment and construction teams to sort out the mess.

Licensing Fines

Finally, one of the most common reasons for club closures is often because of a simple oversight in licensing. In order for your club to sell alcohol you need to ensure that you are licensed to so by the government and local authorities. Without the correct papers you will be liable to a hefty fine that could easily cripple any sports club for good. Make sure that your licenses are up-to-date and correct before the start of each season.

The Psychology of Patience in Cricket

How long are you willing to wait for a win?

My theory that long gaps between instances of success can contribute to a greater appreciation of a chosen sport.

I’ve had a lot of experience coaching sport in schools and, as a result, have had the opportunity to study the correlation between an individual’s success and their commitment to their chosen sport. As a teacher in a secondary school you can see improvement of performance over minutes, hours, days, terms and years. The passing of time can be easy for coaches and teachers to be rewarded, but the subjective act of learning can make progress feel like an arduous process for the student.

Committing to learning and enjoying sport relies as much on the consistency of the individual’s training schedule as it does on that individual’s biochemical dopamine delivery system. As with any behavioural pattern, in order for an individual to actively enjoy any kind of recreational activity (to the extent that they wish to repeat it) they need to enjoy what they’re doing. For most people enjoyment of a sporting activity is triggered by a successful instance. This can take many shapes from the mastering of a simple skill during a practice session to a goal scored or a match won. Put simply, as with anything else, humans are seekers of positive experiences: the more they succeed, the more likely they will be to seek further improvement.

Not every sport offers this kind of instant gratification, additionally, not all individuals will react to instances of success in the same way. In order to explore this further, let’s take a practical look at how gaps between instances of successes can serve to improve practice retention and overall performance.

I’ve often struggled to get my own students enthused about cricket and the stop-gaps between instances of successes can be seen as much of an impediment to thier progress as it could be an aid. Although cricket is often seen as dull or (at worst) boring by the uninitiated, the wide range of skills that the sport encompasses can make a training session a veritable gold mine of successful instances for newcomers.

Fielding drills offer numerous opportunities for learners to experience instances of success, especially for those that are new to the sport. The simple act of catching a ball can be enough to trigger a a successful instance, the same endorphin release can be stimulated with throwing drills such as this one below.

Most young people look forward to batting more than anything else, however it can be difficult to sustain a large group’s attention during this kind of training. Unlike fielding, it’s infinitely more difficult for a single coach to demonstrate the skills required for newcomers to learn batting. Equipment is required for each batsmen, as well as enough balls to keep students constantly playing for a stretch of 15 minutes (the optimum time for a student to learn a skill and exercise it in practice).

Cricket is often referred to as a game of patience. At a time where the sport has arguably never been more popular (millions around the world tune into the Indian Premier and twenty20 games in England consistently sell out throughout the Summer season) local club cricket is at an all time lull. Only by carefully managing successful instances can coaches hope to keep students engaged.