STARTING A POOL LEAGUE
This Summary will take a chronological approach from first creating the Pool League through to the conclusion of its first Session. Additional, more detailed information is provided elsewhere in the League Operator Manual.
The most common game played is 8 Ball which will be used in all examples. For those interested in 9 Ball Team play, contact the CCS National Office for assistance.
Anyone can be a League Operator and sanction their League with the CCS. All Pool Leagues are encouraged to sanction with the CCS so that their Players and Teams are eligible to compete in Singles and Team 8 Ball Championships held annually across Canada (BC, Westerns, Ontario, Atlantic and Nationals). They can even go to Las Vegas and compete in the US Nationals. Not only is it great fun, but pool is one of the rare sports that Amateurs get to play for huge Prize Funds. No Pros allowed in any CCS Championship.
Leagues that do sanction with the CCS are not required to follow these guidelines. While the principles and tasks involved in running a successful League don't change, everyone's situation is unique and in the end you do what works. The CCS doesn't interfere, we're only there to help and to promote the sport.WHO WOULD WANT TO FORM A LEAGUE?
The most common are:
WHERE DO I START?
- A group of Players who've gotten together and want to do their thing, their way.
- A Billiard Club owner who wants to increase his Business while providing a value added service to his regulars and new patrons.
- A Pool Table Vending company who wants to increase his Business by providing a value added service to his locations.
- An Individual who wants to create a Business by providing league services to the players.
Non-profit or not, you're trying to create a Product. Many decisions need to be made and there'll be some trial and error along the way. Remember that, above all, the playing of Pool is considered ENTERTAINMENT by the Players. If they're not having fun, they won't stay. They want a situation that's friendly, provides fair competition and whatever is supposed to happen, actually does.
Your first step should be talking to as many Players as possible to find out what will interest them enough to get them and others to join. When a pattern emerges, call a Formation Meeting of key Players and finalize what it is that's being offered. The Product and who's offering it must be credible. Then you're into Advertising and Recruitment
You don't have to be huge. The CCS accepts the sanctioning of Pool Leagues that have a minimum of 4 Teams comprised of a minimum 20 Players who play a minimum 8 week Schedule. Although 8 Ball is the most common and all the Championships are 8 Ball, any game of Billiards is okay; providing it is organized on a Team basis. The average size of a CCS Pool League is between 12 to 16 Teams. There is such a thing as Singles Leagues. Contact the CCS National Office for more information.
Here's what you'll need to finalize your Team based League:
ADVERTISING and RECRUITING
- Pool Leagues are one of two types – 'In House' or 'Traveling'. 'In House' means that all League Play is in one Location. 'Traveling' means that all League Play' is at 2 or more Locations. Generally Teams will play one half their Matches 'away' and one half their Matches at 'home'. Every Pool Table available to the League can support two Teams regardless of League type.
- The type is generally determined by who's organizing it. The most common 'In House' is by a Billiard Club. The most common 'Traveling' is by a group of Players.
- Pool Leagues generally play in the Evening during the week or less commonly on the weekend; usually Sundays. The evenings of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday are generally favored because that it is often the slowest nights for the Host Location when they need the business the most. Check around. It's usually not good to choose a night that conflicts with another Pool League.
- Match start times can vary depending on the Match Format selected. Generally it will be between 7 to 7:30PM and usually you shoot for finishing around 11PM or sooner. Some Players do work Graveyard and others may have early starts to their workday.
- Match Formats and Team Rosters
- The most common Match Formats are 4 Player - 16 Games or 5 Player – and either 15, 20 or 25 Games. All call for Rotating Play meaning that, in the 4 Player – 16 Game Format for example, all the Players on each Team play all the Players on the other Team a single game, for a total of 16 games played.
- All of the above Match Formats work well. 4 Player Teams may be easier to recruit. If you're going with 5 Player Teams, then whether you choose 15, 20 or 25 games will depend on the average skill level of the Teams involved and the time they'll likely take to finish. A 'Masters' Team will average 6 minutes per game and a 'Novice' level Team will average 12-14 minutes per game.
- All Team play in all CCS 8 Ball Championships involve 5 Player Teams playing a 25 game rotating Match Format.
- It is suggested that Team Rosters not exceed 10 players, which is the same limit at all CCS Championships. That means that although 10 players are on the Team Roster, only 4 or 5 of them will actually play at any one time depending on the Match Format you're using. Substitutions of players during a Match are allowed at CCS Championships.
- Scoring and Handicaps
- Every League has Team Standings. You'll need to decide how Matches get won or lost.
- Some Leagues simply record Games Won or Lost and the one with the most wins. If the number of games played in your Match Format is an even number, you'll need a tie-breaker rule. You'll also need to decide how much the win is worth for Team Standings.
- By far the majority of most Leagues use Handicaps of some sort. Difference in Team skill levels is inevitable and you want all Teams to have the feeling that they at least have a chance. If they don't, you run the risk of Teams getting discouraged and quitting.
- In 8 Ball, the most common form of Handicapping involves a Point System whereby 1 point is awarded for every object ball sunk and 3 points for the 8 Ball for a total of 10 points, should you win the game. A player's Total Points scored to date divided by the number of Games Played to date, then gives them an Average. This Average can then be used to provide a Handicap expressed in Points which is awarded to the Player with the lower Average. Now every Team has a chance. A full explanation of this suggested Scoring and Handicapping Point System is shown in a later section.
- Using Handicapping does involve the recording and preparation of additional statistics and reports, but it's pretty straight forward. Even though Handicaps are not used in any CCS Championship, it is highly recommended that you use some form of Handicapping in your local League.
- The decision that's needed is Handicapped or not and if yes, how.
- The Rules
- All CCS Championships are played using the Official World Rules for 8 Ball as published by the World Pool-Billiard Association. They are available on the CCS website and, upon League Sanctioning, every League Member is provided a Member Handbook that also has them.
- We highly recommend that your League follow them in their entirety. They are very good rules (the same on 5 continents) and use of them will eliminate any confusion when your Players and Teams are competing in CCS Championships.
- The Schedule
- The most common are 'Summer' Leagues (June to August), which run for 8-12 weeks and 'Winter' Leagues (September to March), which run for 24-30 weeks. Some Leagues run year around in 3 to 4 Sessions of 10-14 weeks each.
- Your Schedule can start at any time of the year and be of any length. The CCS 'League Year' runs from June 1 to May 31. Any League who sanctions must have a Schedule that runs at least 8 weeks after which all the League Players and Teams will then be eligible to play in all CCS Championships for the League Year.
- A perfectly 'balanced' Schedule is one that every Team plays every other Team exactly once or twice, etc with alternating 'Home' and 'Away' Matches. Even if the League is In House, because of the rotating Match Format, there is a difference in the order of play and who 'breaks' depending on whether you are designated as the 'Home' or 'Away' Team.
- Your Schedule does not have to be 'balanced'. Sample 'balanced' Schedules appear elsewhere in this Handbook for a League who has from 4 to 16 Teams. You just 'cut-off' any portion you don't need and 'add-on' for any additional needed. If you have an odd number of Teams, one of the Teams listed becomes a "Bye" Team.
- Fees and Prizes
- Now we're talking about how you're going to entice them to play in the first place and at what cost. The variations are endless.
- There is usually one or more of the following - Registration Fees, Administration Fees, Table Fees and Prize Fund Fees.
- If the League is to be sanctioned with the CCS, there will be a Registration Fee to cover the CCS League Member Fee which is $20 for the 2005/06 League Year. How much you charge for Registration is up to you.
- Some Leagues charge Administration Fees. Leagues do require Administration which is somebody's time and there definitely are costs involved. Scenarios range from (i) No Charge – League is being run and offered free by a Business who gets a return elsewhere, (ii) Actual costs only are charged plus a stipend to the 'League Secretary' or (iii) A straight Fee – The League itself is a Business to the person running it.
- The Table Fee is the cost charged by the Host Location to play a game on their Table. Some Host Locations will provide use of their Tables either free of charge or discounted in lieu of other returns they get from the additional drink and food sales. Keep in mind that they are a Business and if they're going to host you, then they have to make money somehow.
- The biggest variance is in Prize Fund Fees. Some Leagues have none. Players join, play, get sanctioned and then later pay their own way to CCS Championships. In some Leagues, Players pay a nominal amount which is enough to cover the cost of Awards and a Banquet at the end of the Schedule. The most common is that the Players pay anywhere from $5 to $20 per Match played which will build up a significant Prize Fund. This Prize Fund can be paid out in Cash or other Prizes purchased by the League. Such Prizes often consist of Paid Team Trips to attend a CCS Championship. The Trips usually cover the cost of the Entry Fee, Lodgings and a Travel Allowance. Others may pay out their Prize Fund in 'Point Money' based on some formula involving Player or Team Performance. Some go out and get donated Prizes of all sorts for giveaway at the end. There is no one right approach. It's a balance between what kind of a League do you want versus what will attract the Players in the first place.
- No matter what approach is taken on all Fees, it is extremely important that it be documented and made known to all, in advance.
- If there is a Prize Fund, that money belongs to all the Teams involved. Someone is just holding it in trust for them. It is highly recommended that a Meeting be held with all the Teams to let them decide exactly what they want it to be used for. It is even more highly recommended that once that occurs, that it not be allowed to change later. And finally, that at the end, a Prize Fund Financial Statement is made available to everyone that's simply shows all the ins and outs.
- Teams Must Have A Chance
- It is competition and although Teams may join, they won't stay if they don't have a chance; both at winning Matches and at winning whatever Prizes are available. Here's what you can do:
- It starts with the initial Recruiting. If you have an overly 'Stacked' Team compared to the others, you may consider either not accepting their entry or insisting on a Team Roster change. It's up to you; you have that right. What's the point of accepting such a Team, if six others won't join because of them. The best is always when all the Teams are roughly the same overall Skill Level. The fastest way to kill a League is when everyone knows in advance who the best Team is and even worse the majority of the Prizes go to the 'top'.
- Use Handicaps in League Play. It doesn't ensure a win for the lesser skilled Team but it does go a long way in leveling the playing field. Even if they don't win, they at least had a shot at it. And the higher skilled Team will have to play closer to their ability to win.
- Most Leagues have a Play Off of some kind at the end of the League Schedule where all or a majority of the Prize Fund gets won. Extending the use of Handicaps in the Playoffs is highly recommended especially if everyone is playing in a single group. Some Leagues split the Teams into two Play Off groups - Top Half / Bottom Half, based on Final Team Standings coupled with a pre-determined split of the Prize Fund as determined at the start of the Schedule. That approach works well as Teams then know they don't have to be the best to win something. The 'Top' Teams shouldn't complain as their share of the Prize Fund wouldn't be as big as it is without those 'Bottom' Teams being in the League in the first place.
- Some Leagues award a portion of the Prize Fund through Blind Draw. What is always good is to spread the Prize Fund as much as possible, even to the extent that every Team wins something.
- The Executive
- The most common consists of a President, Treasurer and a Secretary. These positions are usually elected if the League is formed by a group of Players and are usually appointed if the League is business related.
- Together they will establish League Policies and Rules, handle the Money, take care of Administration, settle Disputes and otherwise transact League Business as required.
- The President runs the League. That person is ultimately responsible for everything that happens or doesn't happen. All Meetings are chaired by the President.
- The Treasurer looks after all the money in and out. It is highly recommended that a separate Bank Account be set up for all League Funds that requires at least two signatories of the Executive. This Bank Account should be open to verification at any time by any Member of the League in good standing.
- The Secretary is the one who processes all the Match Score Sheets and prepares Statistical Reports on Player and Team Standings. Duties also include the Sanctioning of the League, the processing of League Entries into CCS Championships and the handling of all general correspondence.
- Some Leagues also establish Player Committees to help run the League such as Tournaments, Banquet or Board of Governors (for dispute resolution).
You now have a Product that you think will work. If it was developed in collaboration with key Players, you probably already have a number of Teams ready to sign up. To get more, here are some suggestions:
- Posters, Flyers and Team Roster Sign Up Sheets
They don't have to fancy. They do need to include the essentials of what you're offering along with whom to contact for further information and to sign up. Pretty easy if it's to be an In House League. If it's to be a Traveling League then you need to distribute them to all the suitable potential Host Locations but be sure to get their permission first. The CCS provides Posters for all their Championships free of charge including one for Team Recruiting.
- The Host Locations
They can assist greatly in Team Recruiting and it's in their interest to do so. Ask the owner to have the staff promote the League amongst the 'regulars'. Now instead of just having them on the weekends, they'll be there during the week too, all on a guaranteed basis for the whole Schedule.
- The Players
You don't actually recruit Players; you recruit potential Captains of Teams. Everyone has a couple of close Friends (or Family) that they'd like to play with and those People have other Friends and Family. Now you have a Team. The best advertising is always word of mouth. Tell everyone that if they want to have a League, then they should tell as many others as possible. Some Leagues may even offer incentives in this regard.
- Sign Up Meeting
Announce at least one in your Promotional Materials. This will give you a chance to explain what is being offered and to answer any queries and concerns that anyone may have. This is where interested Players who aren't already on a Team can be put on one. This Meeting can also be used to either elect or announce the League Executive.
- Late Start
You've announced a Sign Up Deadline and a League Start date. There's nothing wrong with letting another Team start after the League Start Date providing they play Make Up Matches for those missed and of course pay all related Fees. Alternately, some Leagues only allow a Team to come in late to replace a Team that has quit or had to fold for whatever reason.
You have a number of Teams ready to go. Here's what you need to do before the League Start Date:
FIRST LEAGUE NIGHT
- Rules Clinic
It's a good idea to announce and hold a Rules Clinic for all the Captains and interested Players who are not familiar with the World 8 Ball Rules or the Match Format and Scoring System that your League will be using.
It needs to be finalized and distributed to all the Team Captains and the Host Locations.
- Team Handbook
It's always a good idea to prepare a Team Handbook for all the Captains that describes:
- What the purpose of the League is.
- Who's running the League and how they can be contacted.
- A listing of Key Dates – League Start/Finish, Captain's Meetings, Playoffs, Awards Banquet, CCS Championships.
- All Fees, how they are to be paid and when due.
- What they can expect back in return.
- Team Rosters, Match Format and Scoring System.
- General League Policies.
- Good Sportsmanship.
If possible, all the League Matches on the first night should be visited by a representative of the League who can answer all the questions that the Players are sure to have. By definition, Handicaps cannot apply as no Player has an Average yet.AFTER WEEK 1
Now the cycle starts. Matches have been played and Score Sheets and Fees have been turned in by all the Team Captains. The League Secretary will:
AFTER WEEK 4
- Record the Fees paid by each Team and get the money deposited into the League Bank Account.
- Record the Team Points won by each Team and prepare a Team Standings Report
- If the League uses Handicaps, the Points scored by each Player will be recorded and an Average computed for use in week 2 and later in the Schedule.
- Arrange for the Team Standings and Player Statistics Report to be distributed to each of the Team Captains before next week's match.
The Teams should have settled down by then. Now is the time to take care of:
TEAM ROSTER FREEZE
- The Prize Fund
If there's to be one, the total amount can now be computed. The League needs to determine exactly what the Prizes are to be and exactly how they are to be won. This would include any Administration cost, Awards or Banquet that's to come out of the Prize Fund. If the League Secretary is being paid a Fee out of the Prize Fund, make sure that everyone knows and exactly how much. It is suggested that the League Executive prepare recommendations but that the final deciding be done by Team vote at a Meeting of all the Captains. This process should only be repeated and the Prizes changed if the size of the League changes. A summary of all the Prize Payouts and how they are to be won should be clearly documented and made known to all the Players in the League. It is recommended that the League have a Play Off after the end of the League Schedule and that all or a majority of the Prize Funds gets won at that time. It gives all Teams an additional incentive to finish the entire Schedule.
- CCS Sanctioning
After the 4th week of League Play, The CCS League Sanction Policy Agreement calls for the submission of a copy of the Team Standings and related Player Statistics along with the Member Fee of $20 for every Player who has played more than one Match. Submission of additional Member Fees for Players who join later can be sent in on a monthly basis. A full re-submission of Reports and any outstanding Member Fees is required one month prior to any CCS Championship that the League has Players or Teams competing in. If a Player plays in more than one League Session or more than one League Division in a League Year, they only have to be sanctioned once.
It's a good idea to freeze all the Team Rosters at some point, generally around the halfway mark in the League Schedule. This avoids Teams adding stronger Players near the end to scoop up larger Winnings from the Prize Fund. It's not fair to the Players already on the Team who may not get to play now and it certainly isn't fair to the other Teams. What is suggested is that after the Roster Freeze Date, Team Roster changes can only be made to keep a Team active that's in danger of folding, that the new Player must be the same or of lesser Skill Level than the Player being replaced and that Prior Approval must be obtained from the League Executive.JUST PRIOR TO LEAGUE END
It's also a good idea to hold another Meeting of all Team Captains a couple of weeks before the end of the League Schedule. The purpose is to:
- Review the status of the Prize Funds. Are they there and in the amount expected? Is the cost of any purchased Prizes within the expected amount? Any adjustment at this time should be minor and represent fine tuning. If the adjustment required is major, a Special Meeting should have been immediately called when the need for same first became known.
- Review the Play Off arrangements – When and Where?
- Review the status of Awards Banquet arrangements.
Nearly every League has one that involves all the Teams. They can be held all at one Location on one weekend or at several Locations and held on the normal League Night. What's important is that every Team knows well in advance that there is one, that they're in it, when it's to be and what the Format of play will be. The most common Play Off Format is Double Elimination whereby a Team has to lose two Matches before they are done. Sometimes a 'Round Robin' Format will be used if there are eight or fewer Teams involved. Examples of Tournament Charts and a suggested summary of General Tournament Policies appears elsewhere in this Handbook.AWARDS BANQUET
This is the wrap up. Getting Teams to join a League is actually not that hard. Getting all the Teams to finish the whole Schedule and delivering on all the commitments and promises made is much harder. Having an Awards Banquet or special Function at the end can help. You know you've run a good League if, when it's all over, the last place Team is still there and they all have smiles on their faces.
ATTENDING A CCS CHAMPIONSHIP
- Who Pays
If there is to be a Banquet or special Function, the cost of same may come from the Prize Fund or from Tickets sold. Some Leagues go all out and rent a Hall, arrange for a caterer and provide entertainment. Others may simply hand out the Awards at their Play Offs. Sometimes the owner of a Billiard Club who has an 'In House' League will provide a special Function either free or with nominal charge as a way of showing customer appreciation.
- Awards and Prizes
Try to have as many Awards that you can think of or your League can afford - for League Play and Play Offs and for both Team Performance and Individual Player Performance, etc. Players love free draws of donated Prizes. Raffles too. For Cash Prizes out of the Prize Fund, payment by cheque is recommended.
The whole purpose of sanctioning the League in the first place was so that the League Players and Teams would be eligible to attend A CCS Championship somewhere.
Many CCS sanctioned Leagues offer paid Team Trips from their Prize Fund which usually include the Entry Fee, Lodging and a Travel Allowance. Regardless of whether a Team has won a Trip or not, every Player and every Team is still eligible to pay their own way and compete in whatever CCS Championship they want.
No matter where your League is based, the CCS Canadian Championship Program has an Annual Regional Championship that the Players and Teams can drive to and Team Play is always on the weekend. This makes competing there much more affordable and convenient. Also available to everyone is the CCS Canadian Nationals and the ACS US Nationals held in mid May in Las Vegas.
Every one of those Championships offer Singles, Scotch Doubles and Team Events. Every Event is also divisionalized on Skill Level so that all competitors have a better chance of competing and winning. Full information on every Championship including On Line Event Entry and Status is available at the CCS web site www.cdnqsport.com
For CCS Championships, Hard Copy of all Team Entries along with the Fees must be submitted in advance by the League Secretary. Hard Copy of Singles Entries along with the Fees can be submitted directly by the Player, also in advance. Scotch Doubles Entries are done entirely on site at the Championships. For the ACS National Championships, Hard Copy of all Entries – Team, Singles, and Scotch Doubles along with the Fees are to be submitted in advance to the CCS who will forward them on to the ACS Tournament Staff.GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP
Its importance cannot be overemphasized. It's only Good Sportsmanship that makes League Play and Play Offs the fun and enjoyable experience that it's meant to be. The Players must not feel that being threatened or intimidated in any way is somehow okay. The League must make it known that such unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated; ever. An excellent write-up on Good Sportsmanship and how to properly resolve Disputes appears elsewhere in this Handbook.PRIZE FUND FINANCIAL REPORT
Everyone has a calculator and people will talk. Even if everything was above board and proper, it is always wise and highly recommended to have the Treasurer compile a simple summary of all the Prize Fund Ins and Outs. All the Outs should reflect exactly whatever the Captains of all the Teams decided on in the Meeting(s). Make it available to all the Players in the League and make it known that any Player in good standing is more than welcome to examine whatever they want. Carrying over a Surplus is generally not recommended. It really belongs to those who paid it in the current Session and, if all else fails, find some appropriate way to give it away at the Awards Banquet or special Function at the end.CONGRATULATIONS
You have now successfully completed your first Session. It wasn't easy and I'm sure you learned a lot along the way. The hard work has been done in getting it off the ground. Although there's always fine tuning, the next Session will go much smoother, with less effort. The Players know the League exists, what it's all about and had a great time playing in it and the CCS Championships.NEED SOME HELP?
Just contact the CCS National Office. They'd be more than happy to answer any queries you may have and help you find solutions. The CCS Board is made up of Directors from across Canada who are all successful League Operators. They can also be contacted and are able to provide valuable assistance.