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13-Point Checklist: AD Readiness for Next Season

As an athletic director, your list of demands, responsibilities, and requirements is exhausting. This summer must hire coaches, clear athletes, inform parents, and prepare venues... and those are just a few to-do's on your list.

The time commitment and communication requirements are daunting, but every year you do it. And, education-based athletics will continue to thrive based on the herculean efforts of people like you.

As the current season fades, next season is already on your mind. Are you ready to reset and tackle the same list of demands from last year? 

Or, is it time to tackle your day-to-day challenges with a change?

Post it on the wall!  Download Our Printable Poster: AD Readiness Checklist

Did you know that you can “robot-style automate”, parts of your to-do list? Registration, reminders, certificates, rosters, inventory, and policies can flow through one easy-to-use system to ensure department, district, and state requirements are met on time. 

So, are you ready to get ready? With or without FinalForms, this list can serve as your “Readiness Checklist”. With FinalForms, you’ll just have a lot more time to spend with family and friends when next season rolls around.


1. Coach Compliance

Whether you’re hiring new coaches, re-hiring last year’s coaches, or extending contracts this paperwork is a necessary part of the job. However, the paper part may not be so necessary. 

Have you ever seen one of your coaches without their cell phone in hand? Probably not. So, it’s time you moved your processes online. Coach contracts, department policies, state bylaws, and emergency contact forms can be streamlined into one easy process for your coaches. They’re busy people too. They’ll appreciate the simplicity and you’ll appreciate the time-savings.

Read our blog: How to Reduce Risk when Hiring High School Coaches

2. Coach Certifications

In recent years, coaches have fallen under scrutiny due to expired or missing certificates. In many cases, coaches are on the job for weeks without knowing that they’re missing credentials. By the time they realize it, opportunities for certification may pass and violations may come to light. Spreadsheets and emails are simply not enough. 

Certification dates and corresponding expiration dates can be entered into systems, like FinalForms, that remind coaches to take action. Coaches and Athletic Directors can both rest easy knowing that an automated system is maintaining compliance.

3. Athlete Eligibility

One of the last things you want is your star athlete shining bright on Friday night only to find that they should not have been in the game at all. Suddenly, you’re dealing with consequences and controversy with coaches, parents, and the community. 

A lot plays into eligibility: missing forms, missing signatures, grades, discipline, injuries, return-to-play protocol, physical restrictions, mental health conditions. How can you keep up?

FinalForms puts eligibility updates, medical clearances, and health alerts in your Coaches hands. After all, Coaches are your last line of defense, give them the tools they need.

Read our blog: Three Coaches Share How FinalForms Makes Their Job Better

4. Athlete Clearances

The bane of your existence. Once-a-year, once-a-season... it actually seems like once-every-five-minutes a physical gets turned in, goes missing, or expires. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. FinalForms allows the parent to upload a photo of a physical during the registration process. Better yet, you can receive an alert when parents upload a file so you can review the info and set the physical countdown clock. Your athletic trainers will love the baseline concussion countdown as well.

When it comes to saving time on athlete clearances, it doesn’t get any simpler than FinalForms

Fast Fact: 1.62 million parents exclusively used their mobile device to register their child on FinalForms; that's 70% of our 2.31 million total parents in 2021-2022.


5. Coach, Parent, and Athlete Policies

If you’re going to keep ahead of controversy in your department, policies are a must. Keeping your staff, parents, and students informed of the latest substance, social media, conduct, hazing, harassment, and attendance policies can prevent hundreds of hours of headaches. 

How are your staff, parents, and students handling policies right now? Downloading and uploading files? Turning in paper? Reading your website? Attending a meeting? None of those options provide you with the defense you need when it counts.

Pro Tip: Require parents to sign forms acknowledging school district expectations for behavior at events. And why not let those signatures apply to events beyond sports such as musicals, banquets, and ceremonies... because trust us, we’ve seen it all. 

Read our blog: 6 Tips for Dealing with Parent Politics in High School Athletics.

6. Parent/Community Communication

You want the stands full, right? Right. Perfect. Then we're sure you plan to send schedules, facility information, and... wait... your expectations for their attendance.

It's very important to communicate expectations to parents and fans regarding behavior, language, and the treatment of referees. Furthermore, you may want to publicly post (on your website and/or facilities) your Parent Concern Flowchart. We found an outstanding example of a Parent Concern Communication Flowchart on the Novi High School website. 

7. Facilities Review

Facilities and grounds are key factors in keeping your program running and your athletes, coaches, and attendees safe. With liability for injuries and negligence issues hitting the headlines every day, you must make sure that your fields, seating, entry points, and large equipment are ready for next season.

Set aside one morning this summer for a comprehensive site review with your facilities or grounds crew to address any needs for repair, re-order, reorganization, or removal. 

8. Inventory Control

Equipment costs are ever-increasing and student responsibility, well, it’s decreasing to say the least. It’s a recipe for loss.

How much new cloth and equipment will you order for the Fall? How will you track it to prevent helmets on dorm room shelves, crutches in closets, and Junior’s JV jersey in a frame over the mantle?

FinalForms management and reminder simplify equipment and uniform assignment and collection. Most importantly, your coaches can manage these processes and send reminders from their mobile device. It’s easy to notify both parents and students to completely eliminate excuses!

Read our blog: Save $12,000.00 This Year


9. Emergency Procedures

This is always a tough one to talk about, but it is our reality. Extreme weather, school intruders, infectious diseases, and other scenarios can trigger emergencies. Do your coaches, parents, and students know what to do, where to go, or how to communicate during emergencies? Put it in a policy, inform everyone, and get it signed.

Read our blog: Data-based Emergency Preparedness


10. State Compliance

Your state athletic association requires forms, reports, certifications, and more to maintain membership. It’s your job to ensure that your coaches sign required forms and obtain certifications, that your parents are informed of state policies, that your students have valid medical clearances, and that you submit playoff rosters, tournament entry forms, and participation data. You’ll want to make sure that you have a file for each sport with all of the above information… or make the choice to use FinalForms!

FinalForms takes the time out of compliance with easy buttons and one-click reports. 


11. Team Communication Rules

It’s time to check your school district’s policies regarding group communication. In some cases, when a majority of participants on a team use an app to communicate it becomes sanctioned by the school and may require monitoring. Bullying, shaming, and even threatening behavior may be rampant in team culture and group communication. Ultimately, you’ve gotta step up the prevent defense.

Inform your coaches, parents, and athletes of communication policies and potential consequences of posting inappropriate content. You may even want to consider recommending the use of a specific application and prohibiting others. Talk with your Superintendent or Technology Director to make your decision easier.

Read our blog: What Role Does Technology Play in Athletic Programs?


12. Awards and Standards

Letters, trophies, certificates… they’re all badges of honor. That’s why students and parents can put an extreme emphasis on earning that recognition.

Before the season starts, make sure that you set expectations of your coaches to put forth clear performance requirements, standards, or guidelines to earning that letter. If you ignore this advice, you’ll surely spend hours playing middle man between angry parents and exhausted coaches when the season is long over.

13. Accessible Resources

Your athletic website is going to get a lot of traffic this Fall. Why not provide your students and parents with the links and resources that are undoubtedly hot topics right now. Here's what we're hearing from Athletic Administrators across the nation:

  • Return-to-Play Processes
  • Mental Health Hotlines and Contacts
  • Booster Club Membership Info
  • Sponsorship Opportunities / Fundraisers


Preparations for Fall Sports start now. FinalForms helps you knock out this checklist in as soon as 10 days.

The FinalForms team includes a dozen ADs and Coaches. We’ve been in your shoes and we understand the toughest and the most rewarding parts of the job. We’d like to help you with the tough stuff and make every day more rewarding.

One easy way to reduce your exposure to these risks is by using a system like FinalForms that enables you to achieve 100 percent form compliance. For more information on what you can do to protect your district against safety and legal issues in high school athletics, check out our new e-book: 20 Must-Have Online School Forms for K–12 Athletic Programs or check out our Ultimate AD Checklist: Get Ready for Fall

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