September 2015 Update
A few weeks ago, I finished my first full hockey season using BenchApp to completely manage my beer league hockey team and feel that it is necessary to give a few thoughts on the App after getting some real world experience. My full review can still be found by scrolling past this update or clicking here.
When January 1st rolled around this year, the only thing I could think of is my beer league hockey team that would be playing this summer. I recently just reviewed BenchApp and was really excited by the potential of the app in alleviating the effort that went into managing my team. We would only be retaining about half of the same players from the previous season, so I had a little bit of work ahead of me for finding new players for my team. Sure enough, I had plenty of people excited right off the bat that wanted to join my team, so I input their account details into BenchApp and added the deposit money that each player owed to me by March 1st.
Cut to a week before the deposits are due on March 1st, I had 5 players drop out as soon as I asked about the deposit money. Instead of getting stressed out about who I will be able to find to fill the empty spots on such a short notice, I used BenchApp’s Broadcast function to notify my teammates about my predicament, to see if anyone could find new people. Within a couple of days, those empty spots were filled and the deposit money was paid.
As the season approached, the full season dues needed to be paid and tracking the payment as they came in was a cinch with BenchApp’s built in Finances section of the app. By the time the season started, 90% of my teams fees were paid and I knew exactly who owed me what so that I could harass them for money for the remainder of the season. I could even set up BenchApp to annoy the players on my team that owed me money.
The real magic of using BenchApp to manage my team came into play once the regular season started. As I mention in the full review below, BenchApp can be set up to automatically message your teammates about their attendance to a game or event using the Notifications section of the app. I would have the first text notification sent three days before our next game asking them to reply about their attendance with a simple “Y” (f0r Yes) or “N” (for No), and a similar second text notification would be sent to the players on my team who did not respond to the first text. This was especially useful since most of the players on my team did not want to bother installing an app, and many of them didn’t check their e-mails often. The usefulness of this feature really showed when my team stepped on the ice, my team’s bench was always filled with three lines, compared to most other teams in our league who barely filled two lines, despite having the same size team on the score sheet.
However, there is an elephant in the room to address: pricing. When I originally reviewed BenchApp, it was free since it was in Beta. However, over the summer BenchApp came out of Beta and launched its pricing model. This isn’t the worst, since all of the core features are retained in the free version, but certain additional features like Text Message Broadcasting and Text Message Check-in need a “Pro” subscription to be accessed. This isn’t a big issue, with the low cost of $7 dollars USD a month per team (currently $9.46 CDN on my last VISA bill), any team manager can incorporate into each player’s initial cost to justify the pricing. For the amount of time and headache that BenchApp has saved me, it was totally worth it.
There are plenty of features in BenchApp to explore and use for your team. Personally, I found the Broadcasting, Finances, and Notifications features the most useful. Since I’ve started using BenchApp, the developers have been working hard to add new features. From small features like drag and drop lineups and big features like the Jersey Builder, BenchApp is making big strides towards unifying the hockey management experience. They’ve expanded the app to include other sports like baseball and soccer, which doesn’t hurt at all for those of you who play multiple sports.
Full Review from December 2014
For the first time this past summer, I became a beer league hockey team manager. I didn’t know what to expect at first, and to be perfectly honest, I thought it was going to be easy. A bunch of guys and gals getting together to share their mutual interest for a sport they love? That won’t take much planning because people actually wanted to be there! Oh, how quickly things took a turn for the worst: teammates not being able to make it to games, having to hound people down for money, and spending too much time in my emails were a few of the side effects of being a Beer League manager. At the time, I thought to myself that there has to be a better way.
Enter benchapp.com, a free website and app for iOS, and Android., designed by guys like me, for guys like me. The purpose of the app is to provide some organization in the chaos that comes with organizing hockey teams. From peewee to beer league, BenchApp will have you covered. There are many useful features: automatic e-mails to notify teammates about games, roster management, and finance tracking are some of the features that really make this BenchApp stand out. There are a few things that you need to do to set up, like inputting your schedule into the website’s calendar and your teammate’s emails and phone numbers, but the short and minimal amount of effort to do that is definitely worth it for the end results.
To start, you need to keep things organized. That’s why BenchApp features a calendar that allows you to either enter in your game schedule manually or to import your schedules from many of the popular calendar clients out there. You can also export these schedules to be used with email clients as well.
Handling a roster can be tricky since there are so many variables associated with each player. Within BenchApp’s roster management system, you can enter in basic information like their name and contact information, but you can also get more specific and enter in variables like jersey size, position, their current status (on holiday, suspended, injured, etc.). Once you have all of this information put together, it makes the organization for your team easier down the road. You can prepare roster line-ups before the game, put a group message out to a list of call-ups when you need to fill a spot, order new jerseys without having to consult everyone for their sizes, and more.
Having a group of people together who want to play organized hockey is great and all, but there is one important component associated with this, you are all going to have to pay. Most league commissioners don’t want to track down each individual player to get their money, so they will do their business through each team’s manager. That should be fine for you managers out there until someone doesn’t pay. With 10-20 players per team, there is a large room for error when collecting money. The “Finances” section of BenchApp allows you to assign dues to each player, from leagues dues to beer dues, it will make sure that you won’t be short a few hundred dollars at the end of the season.
There is nothing like a little healthy competition to help your team perform at the highest level. That’s why BenchApp has full statistics tracking to see how you and your teammates perform as the season goes on.
As soon as I saw this feature, I was immediately sold on this product. One of the biggest stresses that came with being a manager
was trying to figure out if I was going to have enough players coming out for each game. For example, once you have inputted your team members’ e-mails and phone numbers, the website will send an e-mail or text message on a specified amount of days before your next scheduled game asking the players to respond by simply clicking “In” or “Out”.
The website then keeps a tally of who is going to be there and who isn’t based on responses. If people choose to ignore this, you can set up a 2nd e-mail to be sent. This saves time and makes it much easier to organize your games rather than trying to talk to each person individually.
There is nothing like playing puck for a few hours and enjoying a few beers with the guys and gals after the game. Some teams may do BYOB, but some others rotate who buys the case or two of beer each game. BenchApp has you covered with tracking of who has paid for the beer.
My first season as a beer league manager was a stressful, but fun adventure. Looking back on it, there were a lot of things I could have done differently, specifically with my organization. I wish I knew about this app back then because it is everything that I needed for organizing my team and more. The roster management, finances tracking, and automatic participation request notifications are really what seal the deal and give value to BenchApp. They all combine together into a nice, functional, and aesthetically pleasing package that every manager and coach should use for their team management duties.
All photos provided and owned by benchapp.com