Organizing Games on the Gameon Active App

June 22, 2020

Hi Ballers,

I'm Jimmy, one of the co-founders at GameOn Active and welcome to our first blog post!

I've been running indoor pickup basketball games on GameOn Active for a couple of years now, and in this post I would like to share with you a step-by-step guide for organizing a basketball game on GameOn Active, as well as a few tips and best practices that I have picked up along the way. Most of this post is aimed at indoor games but many of the points also apply to outdoor games and I will also mention a few points with regards to outdoor games in one of the sections.

Why Organize basketball games?

If you are wondering why you should bother to organize games instead of just trying to find a game to play, here's a few reasons why.

Play when and where it suits you and your buddies

Anyone who has tried to find an indoor pickup game probably knows that your options can be quite limited depending on where you live and work. The chances are that you have been added to a couple of WhatsApp chat groups or Meetup groups, and the runs available are not always at convenient locations / times or suitable skill levels. Organizing your own run means that you get to ball regularly when and where it suits you and your buddies.

Keep fit and make new friends

It’s fantastic if you have enough friends to fill your own games, but usually you want to open the game up for others to join to make sure you get the numbers every time. Playing against other players is also one of the best ways to improve your game!

Being the organizer, you are best placed to help any new players get settled into your run, by introducing them to other regulars, getting them into the right teams, ensuring they get enough play time (more on all this later!).

Over time, some of these new players will become regulars in your run, and most likely become good friends of yours!

I have certainly made a lot of great friends in my years of running games - many of them I meet regularly outside of basketball at the pub, birthdays and even one wedding so far, and some have even become part of the GameOn Active project itself!

Make a little money just by balling

Although this may not the reason why you want to organize (it was certainly not mine), a well-attended run is generally profitable.

Table 1: Range of court prices and game prices per hour in London

* Based on my own bookings, enquiries and observations of other runs at Schools and Leisure Centres within Greater London over the last few years, I am aware of courts that are far more expensive (up to £90 /hr) which are excluded here as those are usually in members only leisure centres, or in extremely popular Central London locations that are usually fully booked most days.

A player cap is usually applied to ensure everyone gets a good run. For a one hour session, usually you would cap the number of players at 12 for a half court game (4 v 4 v 4), and 15 for a full court game (5 v 5 v 5). Although if you are so fortunate to be able to secure a 2-hour full court booking, you can easily accommodate up to 20 players (4 teams of 5).

As you can see, depending on your pricing it is not unusual to end up with £20-80 in profits from each well-attended game, what you do with it is up to you but here are some ideas:

  • Keep it as payment for the work you put in every week to keep the run going
  • Put towards offsetting losses on days when you do not get enough players
  • Pay for shared kit like bibs, nets and basketballs
  • Put up a free game sometimes to distribute profits back to the regulars

Step-by-step guide to organizing your own game

Having discussed some of the benefits in organizing your own game, let’s take a look at how you go about getting one going

Finding a court

Unless you already know which court you want to use with slots that suit you, the first step in this process is to find an indoor ball court for your run.

The GameOn Active app currently has details on 4,500+ indoor (and some outdoor) basketball courts in England, so a good place to start is to login to the app, zoom in to the area in which you would like to play and have a look at what’s available around (Tip: on the main map screen, click the magnifying glass button to load games and courts, and click the plus button to reveal all the courts in the area).

Where available you will see key contact details for the court, for example, a website, phone number and contact email address. You could then visit the court’s website or get in touch with them to find out about availability and pricing. Some courts are operated by a large company (e.g. Better), and you may have to become a member of one of the gyms in order to book in advance.

To ensure the best chances of achieving good attendance at the session, here are a few things to bear in mind when choosing a court:

  • Location: try and aim for courts that are easy to get to via public transport.
  • Full vs half court: it usually takes up to 2 months to build up attendance, and you may lose money on the run during that period. In order to minimize loses at the beginning, try and get a half-court session going first to build up the number of regulars and then switch to full court and possibly even 2 hr sessions.
  • Timing / block bookings: although it is possible to have regular runs each week at different date of the week and times, it is best to stick to the same date or week and time every week if you wish to maximize attendance. You may have to make a block booking (usually in 3 months blocks) to achieve this so inquire in advance whether that is a possibility.

If there is a court missing in the app, or you need more support around the booking process (financial or further advice), then please get in touch with us (Gameon Active Support)!

Setting up a game

It is free and easy to set up a run on the GameOn Active app, which not only has helpful features to handle most of the admin for you (e.g. get notified for every RSVPs, handle online payments and getting the word out to all other potential ballers in the app).

It is very important that you put the game up on the app in advance (I recommend at least 7 days in advance) so potential ballers have time to ask questions and adjust their schedules if needed in order to attend. For a quick demo, check out this (How To Add a Game) video guide on the GameOn Active YouTube channel.

You can choose to accept cash payments at the run, or you can put in your paypal.me link and receive online payments via PayPal.

In the near future we will also be releasing a fuller online payment feature which allows you to receive money directly into your bank account (less a fee charged by Stripe, our third-party payment provider, and a small processing fee for GameOn Active), which comes with a dashboard for you to monitor payments over time, handle refunds and require advance payments before a player can secure a spot (so you still get paid in case of a no show).

Running a game

So you have booked a court, added a run and got the word out on the app, and finally its game day, awesome! Running a game is mostly common sense, especially if you have been balling a long time, but here are some helpful tips to help make your run the best possible:

  • Cash payment: if you are taking cash payments, its usually easier to ask everyone to pay before the game begins, so you can just enjoy the run and spend time socializing afterwards (Tip: the GameOn Active app has a handy toggle on the player list that allows you to mark off who has paid in cash / PayPal so you know who is yet to pay).
  • Getting the game started: allow a few minutes to warm up and as the organizer, you are usually the person who would gather everyone up, make teams and get the run going. It's up to you how to make teams, for example you can shoot for it, or get everyone line up by height and pick teams yourself.
  • Game format: that’s really up to you but I recommend 3 teams of 4s for a half court game and 3 teams of 5s for a full court game, playing 5 minutes games up to say 5 points (1s and 2s) and winner stays up to 3 games in a row. If you are just one or two players short, then just rotate players from the losing team each time.
  • Bring a basketball: it goes without saying that you should bring a basketball or make sure someone brings one.
  • Bibs: Bibs are highly recommended especially if your run is starting to become very well attended, you can get some relatively affordable ones on Amazon.
  • Be considerate to other court users: Try and not enter the court before your slot especially if there is some quieter sport being played, like badminton (15 ballers doing dribble drills makes a lot of noise), and make sure you leave on time so that the staff can do any setting up required for the next session (e.g. put up Badminton nets).
  • Fouls and anti-social behaviors: basketball is a contact sport, and at times you will get disagreement over fouls being called, and there will be some trash talking. As an organizer you should ensure that the game stays competitive but friendly, and don’t be afraid to kick out anyone who behaves anti-socially.
  • Injuries: If possible, it is a good idea to bring an ice bag with you which works great on twisted ankles, but courts usually provide support when there is an injury so do check with the staff too.
  • Player rotation: if you are running a game with subs, you can bring a stopwatch with you and call subs say every 5 minutes, and make sure that everyone (especially new players) get enough play time.

Post-game

As mentioned earlier, make sure that you stop the game when you get to the end of your slot, remember to ask everyone to leave their bibs behind, and this is a good time to collect any outstanding payments from players.

If possible, grab a quick chat with any new players to see if they had a good run and get any feedback they may have, this would help them feel more included and encourage them to come back to the next game.

Games at outdoor courts

Most of this post is focused on indoor basketball courts, but of course there are also a great number of outdoor courts in the UK, and you can also set up games at outdoor courts using the GameOn Active app by following the exact same process (except that the game is going to be free since there is no rental to pay).

The app has some outdoor courts added but not all, if you know of a outdoor court that is not in the app yet you can write to us with the details at Gameon Active Support, and we will soon be releasing a feature for you to add new courts directly in the app too so watch this space!

Wrapping up

Organizing a regularly basketball game is a fantastic way to stay fit and make new friends, and can provide you with a little profit each time for the work you put in.

I hope you have found this step-by-step guide to organizing games on the GameOn Active app helpful and we look forward to joining your runs in the future!

Have a great time balling and as always, if there is anything we can help you with, please email to us at Gameon Active Support.