Category Archives: Main

Extend Your Pickup Hockey Season, for ‘free’

In ramping up this season and working with more pickup hockey organizers, there’s a pattern developing in games we are NOT working with. It’s cash related but is often expressed as a shorter pickup season. Although we certainly see our fair share of games that are well run, there are a ton that are struggling. Someone playing in their game is familiar 20Skaters, and our service, and then forwards us emails from their organizers…

coin“Brydon, can you please get this game to use your system? See below…”

So we’re going to play 16 games of pickup instead of 22. I need $300 from some people for the season, I only have 6 today. I have to pay the city this week so please send me some money. We only have 16 on our spare list so we’ll need more. If we have extra money later in the season then I’ll get us some more icetimes.

Bottom line, these games have untapped value in the form of icetime. We work to ensure they have 20 skaters every week. As discussed, that translates into cash in the organizers pocket. Cash rarely stays in organizer’s pockets, it quickly translates into more pickup games, end of season parties, lower season fees next year.

We can help but only if an organizers wants our help. If you’re organizing regular pickup hockey and recognize the email above, then get in touch and let’s start making your life simpler.

The Goons Roll In?

hockey_goonIt’s interesting how often we’re asked by pickup hockey organizers IF their regular weekly game will start to fill up with goons when they start working with us. We’re asked this enough, we added it to our FAQ and I’m clearly writing about it here.

I don’t want to get mushy here but we love the folks who put in the hours to create, and curate, awesome pickup hockey games. It’s a thankless job that takes a ton of work. You can see that work when you step on the ice at a well attended game that has a consistent skill level in the players, good clean hockey, and of course a goalie in each net. All we want to do is support those organizers and make their life simpler.

So no, we will not randomly drop skaters into your regular game. As an organizer you are in complete control of who plays in your game. You can remove skaters who aren’t working out, you can add, whatever you need.

If you’re often short skaters and you explicitly ask us, of course we will work to introduce and add more skaters to your game. We can do that quite easily. We’ll work hard to ensure they fit your game. In the case one doesn’t fit, for whatever reason, you can simply remove them and they will no longer get invites.

PS…We’ve moved off gravatar for our avatars. You can simply upload your avatar to your account now. It’s great seeing all the hockey avatars popping into the games.

Picking An IceTime for Pickup Hockey?

While we may eventually add a feature to help you and your skaters select the ideal time to run a pickup hockey game, we’re currently focused on other more painful parts of the process. I figured I would share a simple tip though, for those of you who aren’t running a regular weekly time spot.

calMost cities and rink owners will allow you to place a hold on an icetime. Just ask nicely, place a hold on a spot or two while you ask your skaters which time they’d prefer. Or more importantly you find two goalies.

There are obviously services available like doodleCongregarTimeToMeet and many others to support you in choosing dates/times within groups of people. So pick one, place a hold on your icetime and when you’re ready come talk to us to make sure you run a great game of pickup!

PS…As long as you’re avoiding any other major events like a friend’s wedding or the super bowl, my advice is just pick a time and invite as many as you can.

Seasons, sub levels and live games

It was a labour filled weekend over at 20Skaters HQ. We had a hard push this weekend to get some new features in place for some organizers starting their winter games this week.

For organizers who have been running pickup for a while, most eventually collect some form of annual subscription from players. You pay me $x for the year and you can come to any game. This lowers the organizers risks and they typically have to pay for the entire season up front so it enables them to do that.

We now support this model. Our goal with these games remains getting each individual game to 20 skaters. We’re playing with a twist in this model where subscribed players get a chance at a rebate on a game they don’t attend. The goal here is to get you to tell us when you can’t make a particular game. Then we can sell your spot and get a sub to the game.

Boston BruinsWe’ve also added the ability to invite game subs in rounds. Most games have players they’d like to have first crack at a sub spot. Our organizers can now specify rounds of subs.

As regulars opt out of an upcoming game, 20Skaters brings in subs in rounds. Subs pay the organizer immediately. Organizer brings in more cash, games have 20 skaters, everyone happy..happy…happy.

If you organize pickup hockey and want to try us out, let us know?

PS…This photo of Stanley Carl “Bulldog” Jonathan was sent in as a suggested default player avatar. It skeers me, that’s all.

Make $3200 Hosting Pickup Hockey

You organize weekly, recurring pickup hockey. You’ve lowered, or eliminated, your personal financial risk by having some of your skaters subscribe for the entire season. Let’s get specific and use real numbers from an organizer we’re working with in Toronto, call him Steve.

Steve has weekly ice for 32 weeks that cost him a total of $12,000 for his entire contract which he pays the city up front. To do that, he collects $500 from 24 players to commit them for the season. Yes these are real numbers, no fiction here.

I think of Steve’s subscribers as shareholders in his game. Steve’s effectively operating a non-profit, or a CSA for pickup hockey. He has 24 skaters who have bought a share of his contract.

Perfect! Steve’s covered his cash requirements, however, he’s created an attendance problem. His skaters are paying over $15 per skate IF they attend all 32. We all know that doesn’t happen. If you attend 3/4 of the games then your cost per skate is now over $20. Miss half the games and you’re paying over $30 per skate!

Steve invites subs and he charges them $20. Spot one of many challenges here? If I’m a subscriber and attend less than 3/4 of the games then I’m now paying more than the subs are, even though I ponied up my $500 at the start. I have to attend over 25 games to get my costs per game under the $20 sub charge.

The bottom line is that Steve, and his 24 skaters, are paying $375 per icetime. As shareholders, they all have a vested interest in making the best use of each and every icetime.

So the answer to the title of this post? Easy, if Steve’s average attendance for the season is 15 skaters, that’s $3200 lost in potential sub charges!! While the extra icetime, when only 12 skaters show up, can be nice, it’s literally costing everyone a ton.

Obviously making the best use of each icetime requires filling Steve’s game every week, within reason (hint, it’s in our name). If you’ve tried that yourself then you already know how much work that takes on Steve’s part. Emailing skaters every week about attendance, chasing subs, charging them, all in an attempt to get 20 skaters every week. Its sucks!

Our focus this upcoming season is working for Steve and his skaters(shareholders) to capture that loss! We work with them to suck all the value they can out of their hockey CSA.

In the coming weeks we’ll start laying out some of the ways we’re working hard to solve all the problems I’ve started to laid out here. If you know any Steve’s out there, send them our way or have them contact me directly!

Pickup Hockey Organizers Can Breathe Easy

We were interviewed by Techvibes last week which resulted in them publishing an article about us.

Pickup Hockey Organizers Can Breathe Easy with Canadian Startup 20 Skaters

“For organizers of pickup leagues, it’s not all fun and games. Rather, organizational headaches and financial stress make the job unattractive at times. Fortunately a Guelph-based startup is trying to take the pain out of organizing pickup hockey.”

Please have a read and let us know what you think? We’re queueing up new organizers for this upcoming season now. If you have any friends who organize regular pickup hockey games, remind them to contact us now!

Booking Your First Pickup Hockey Game

Instead of a standard “hey we have a blog” post, I figured I’d attempt to write something useful. I figured we could start at the start. If you’ve never ran a pickup hockey game, where do you start?

Caveat, I’m writing this for the pre-20 Skaters organizer. Obviously most of these steps are either painless or don’t exist if you’re one of the lucky ones working with us.

When?

The challenge is there is very little icetime available. In Guelph there are really only two people you have to phone in order to find out about icetime availability. The city owns six rinks, the university owns the other two. The city facility booking phone number is 519-837-5678. For the university, you’ll want to speak with Lorianne Fraser at 519-824-4120, extension 53790. Phone both those numbers and find out from them what’s available.

Once you decide on a time, it’s time to pay up. The only way I know of is to pay in full, you can give them a credit card over the phone. If you’re eventually buying a regular weekly time then you can setup a payment schedule with them. You’ll have to sign some waivers etc and drop them off or fax them to seal the deal.

Who?

First job is to secure two goalies. Goalies typically don’t pay for icetime. Phone, text, email, whatever it takes to make sure you have two tenders coming out. You’ll need that before worrying about skaters as most will want to know that you have two goalies coming out.

Next is securing skaters. It’s black magic having skaters who say they’re coming actually come out. Personally it’s tough to leave home once I have a fire going and start into a movie. Getting skaters to pay ahead of time can inspire attendance, at least for me. You may want to just assume some skaters won’t actually show up and oversell the game slightly.

Game Day

I email a reminder to everyone you think is coming on the day of. In that you may want to remind your skaters to bring a dark and light sweater. Depending on what you’re charging skaters, you may want to bring along some change as chances are everyone will have a twenty dollar bill. Water bottles? After game beers? Pucks?

Good luck, enjoy your first game as an organizer…