Creating the Perfect Schedule? Try Again…

By Zack Touchstone, Event Manager at Snap Soccer

 If you are a soccer event manager, coordinator, parent, or coach, you may find yourself wondering, “What goes in to scheduling a soccer event?” Or maybe you ask, “Why in the world is there so much time between my games?” To answer your questions, it’s all about finding the perfect medium in the scheduling process. Every event provides schedulers with new intricacies to incorporate. In general, there are normally three major components that you must understand when creating the “perfect” schedule. Those three components are time and coaching conflicts, field space, and last-minute miscellaneous details.

The first component to making a perfect schedule is understanding the relationship between time and coaching conflicts. This is the most pressing of all three components, and each event will encounter it. Time conflicts make up everything from:

  • “Dear Tournament Director, My team is traveling from out of state, may we please get your latest kickoff time?”
  • “Dear Tournament Director, Most my team has homecoming on Saturday evening, can we please have an early kickoff time?” or
  • “Dear Tournament Director, My team needs to be done by 3 pm, most of our parents are Alabama alumni and NEED to be done before the game starts.”

These examples only make up a few of the time-based conflicts that schedulers receive at events… now let’s stack coaching conflicts on top of those requests. On average, most schedulers will have roughly 20-40 coaching conflicts to combine with present time conflicts. So, as you’re starting to see, the schedule shifts from a simple plug-and-play to an intricate puzzle that may take you a few nights to accomplish. 

The next component to making a perfect schedule is field space. Not having enough field space makes your scheduling process a bit more tasking, especially in conjunction with division size. Say you have two six-team 11v11 divisions and only two 11v11 fields. More often than not, you’re going to have to schedule in clustered time slots (9:00 am and 10:30 am) as opposed to the most ideal single time slot (all games at 9:00 am). This will ultimately give teams slightly longer days than normal, but this is a small price to pay when building the best schedule. 

Lastly, making a perfect schedule is understanding the miscellaneous details that sneak up out of nowhere. There are several different things that could happen as a scheduler, but weather and refs are usually the recurring thorns in a scheduler’s side. You always want to make sure you have a backup plan when it comes to weather, and it is always safe to build in cushion time in order to prevent major delays throughout the day. In turn, this might make for a longer day for teams, but again, it’s all needed to make the best schedule as a whole. Refs are another facet that can be challenging to ensure, and unfortunately, referees are not always readily available. Most regions only have a select number of them, and it is very possible you will need to reach out to referees from outside of your region. Even if your facility gives you the capacity of having 20 9v9 fields at one time, do you have 60 refs available to fill the positions? These are the issues we must think about prior to designing the schedule in order to avoid any last minute (or day of) issues. 

Now that you have a better idea of what goes into writing the “perfect” schedule, I hope you consider it when receiving or making future schedules. Whether you be a coach, manager, or scheduler yourself, I hope that this article has found you well. If you have any follow up questions or would like more explanation, please reach out. I’d love to chat. 

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