Going for the Goals
Advice for Team Dealers: Most volleyball and soccer systems purchased more than five or 10 years ago should be replaced. In both sports, significant improvements have made older systems obsolete, points out national sales manager Chris Livingston. In soccer, tip over risk can be nearly eliminated with combination ballast/transport drums and radiused edges, extra depth and padding improve safety as well. Carbon fiber volleyball systems, while more expensive, have become the industry standard due to their rigid-yet-lightweight poles and lifetime warranty winches reduce the risk of untimely failure.
Technology Trends: Education encouraging adoption of the latest technology continues to be the most important trend in the industry, according to Livingston. While many competition volleyball programs have moved to the latest designs in portable systems, everyone in the industry has been demanding easier and quicker setup, so internal net height adjustment is becoming a popular feature. In addition to significant safety improvements, soccer goals are moving toward 100 percent aluminum designs for easier transport and long-lasting weatherproofness.
New Product Focus for 2023: With the current challenges in the sporting goods industry primarily related to supply chain and transportation, Bison has made improvements in delivery a priority. Even a pair of 24x8-foot official size soccer goals can now be packaged on one pallet, which reduces loss and damage risk and also reduces the time the shipment spends in the carrier’s distribution centers. Volleyball system components, including sockets and hardware, officials stands and padding, are now combined into one pallet, reducing the chance of lost boxes.
Advice for Team Dealers: Sports have really soared back to normal and beyond, but unfortunately continuing supply chain issues mean that being able to supply goals and nets to customers involves subsequently longer lead times and higher costs, points out director of sales Russ Schirmer. “The best thing that team dealers can do to sell more is to have them in stock,” he says. “No one wants to carry a larger inventory, but doing so insures filled sales and fixed costs. With raw material and labor costs continuing to escalate, hedging for the future makes sense.”
New Product Focus for 2023: Due to demand, Carron Net’s 2023 new product focus is all about pickleball. “We had been hearing from team dealers that with the explosion of pickleball, teams and leagues were looking to adhere to the official rules and wanted our superior quality net so we pushed up our plans and created the nets this year,” Schirmer says. Schirmer says the regulation size nets are selling faster than Carron Net can make them.
Advice for Team Dealers: Knowledge is key, stresses Neal Halvorson, director of business development. “As in, be sure your customers know that you carry these hard goods, such as batting cages and nets, soccer goals and lacrosse goals,” he says. “Team dealers have unique advantage over all catalog and online direct sellers in that they can meet with and get to know the AD, coach or facility director — they can walk around their campus or facility to see what equipment needs they may have. They need to know about the products they are selling so they can offer solutions to their customers’ needs.” Unlike catalog or online sellers, they are also able to service the customer after the sale, sometimes even offering to help assemble goals if it will help close a sale.
Technology Trends: Trigon continues to upgrade its website functionality along with digital technology to allow its dealers easier access to catalogs, product info, pricing, inventory and even assembly instructions. “This will enable them to streamline and focus their sales processes with their customers to increase more sales,” points out Halvorson. As for equipment, portability and safety will continuing to be driving factors in product development, especially as multi-use fields become the norm.
New Product Focus for 2023: In 2022, Trigon Sports celebrated its 15-year company anniversary of helping its customers Make Winning Possible. “As we look ahead to 2023, we anticipate an increasing demand for baseball, lacrosse and soccer equipment,” says Halvorson. And not by accident, Trigon has expanded its product lines in soccer and lacrosse to include everything from backyard and recreational goals up to official NFHS/ NCAA goals. “We are excited to start on our second 15 years at Trigon Sports in 2023.”
Advice for Team Dealers: For 2023, dealers should see inventory at higher levels than traditionally seen with demand cycles recovering post-COVID, points out Matt Klein, senior product manager–hard goods. And with the freight industry rebounding, brands will be putting themselves in a position to allow for volume growth. “To move inventory, dealers should start developing programs that merge volume packages paired with apparel companies like Champro,” he says.
Technology Trends: Technology that should be the focus for 2023 is production quality. Champro is putting its efforts into producing a higher level of quality in the construction of the nets and goals we offer through improved design and materials.
New Product Focus for 2023: Champro is offering new Gravity-Weighted Pop-Up Soccer Goals designed to be used at all levels of play. The weighted base system reduces the likelihood of goals tipping over upon impact. With the weighted system, these goals are technologically designed to be the strongest pop-up goals on the market.
Advice for Team Dealers: Ball stop netting can be a very “set it and forget it” type of product so unfortunately sometimes team dealers are forgetting about the opportunity, points out Mike Cunningham, national sales manager. He recommends downloading the Gill Athletics Sports Construction Checklist and walking through an athletic director’s facility with them.
Technology Trends: Cunningham sees product technology utilized to extend life and reduce maintenance.
New Product Focus for 2023: With Gill’s new Ball Stop Net Release technology, the netting now automatically drops when a specific wind/weight threshold is met, saving the poles from damage. This allows for a longer life span for a system and reduces the cost of expensive, unnecessary repairs.
Advice for Team Dealers: Reach out to your ADs and coaches to do a facility walk through, advises Shelby Howard, Porter Court Sports sales manager. “Discover if the facility has any old basketball goals or anti-whip nylon nets that need to be upgraded.” This would also be a good time to check the status of the facility’s backboard padding, backboards and wall padding.
New Product Focus for 2023: Porter’s 2023 product focus is its high school goal, the Ultra-Breakaway Competition. It has a positive lock mechanism that releases at 180-pounbd static load. When the load is taken off the rim, it goes back to game ready position.
Advice for Team Dealers: Many coaches and ADs may not be aware of the condition of their existing equipment, so VP Jeff Roth says ask them specifically about their replacement needs and, if possible, to inspect the equipment. Breakaway basketball rims often are sloppy and not up to spec and should be replaced. Basketball backboard padding is often needed as well. The same rule of thumb applies to volleyball posts and nets and soccer goals and nets.
New Product Focus for 2023: First Team is introducing its Scorpion portable pickleball set for 2023. The Scorpion’s weight base is as stable as in-ground models during play yet is easily tipped backward for easy transport on built-in, non-marking wheels. The net has a built-in self-tensioner for proper net tension.