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LOOKING FOR PLAYERS IS A WASTE OF TIME.

FINDING A GAME THAT NEEDS A PLAYER IS THE ANSWER!

By Bryan Baker

Bryan Baker is a 4.0 tennis player who played on a D III tennis team. Bryan had a career in technology from 1974-2015. After retirement, he focused on technical consulting and specialized in software and reservations systems and processes. 

He graduated with BA (1970) and MA (1974) in International Studies. US Army from 1970-1972

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One of the challenges of a new club member or a visitor to a new city is finding other players.  Several attempts have been made to develop “Find a player…” type of apps but generally, those have failed to achieve their objective.  At the core of these apps failing to solve the problem is the complication of arranging a hypothetical match when neither the venue of a specific time range at a specific court or club is also part of the coordination.  Instead of using the app, the player in need calls the club or resort to query about mixing and matching. 

League play, tournaments, and ladders have also been used to encourage players to mix and meet with a little more success.  The reason these venues are more successful is simple.  They have already reserved the court time, and the coordination is seeding the players.  However, this approach does not apply to a casual player who is simply looking for a game. 

(Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash)

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Why do organized events like league play succeed more often?  The common denominator is the reservation or assignment of courts that require players, and that the tournament or league play has control over the assignment of players.  In essence, it is the availability of courts at specific time ranges that draw players who do not necessarily know each other together, and that those court times are not allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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My name is Bryan Baker and my expertise is analyzing and designing processes and systems that match up playing level skills with court time slots.  In particular, I focus on scenarios where the demand for prime time slots by members or players exceeds the supply and then design methods to allocate those high demand timeslots equitably so that the prime court times do not become the tacit possession of a small group of players. 

The core issue for new members or visitors to find a game is how an organization that owns or manages court times uses its resources to enable players to mix and match.  Tennis resorts usually have a facilitator. Such a role could exist at a club, but more effectively, the club can accomplish the same function by implementing online reservations systems that can highlight court timeslots that have been reserved, but needs an additional player.

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Instead of a player looking for other players, the dynamic changes.  The player looks for a game that needs a player; can view the level of play; and then sign up. For the player(s) who have reserved the court time, it simplifies their work – the system posts the need and lets eligible players find them.  

(Photo: Julian Schiemann on Unsplash)

The fundamental shift in thinking is implementing technology and processes that make it easy for a player to find a game that needs a player, and not to be focused on finding other players who might need a game.  The role of finding a player for a game can be part of the process, but as a complement, not the core. 

Discussion on the components of such technology will be discussed in the next issue of TCB.

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