I’ve had a number of people talk to me in person recently about how to get sponsored by a racquetball equipment manufacturer, who they should talk to, what they should say, etc.
The next thing a player should do is think long and hard about their goals in becoming a racquetball company team member.
- Are you just looking for discounted equipment with no plans to change the way you talk about equipment with your friends and opponents? Perhaps you would be better served by becoming a retail distributor for a specific company or a commissioned sales rep for an online distributor.
- If your real goal is to grow the game by promoting the equipment from a specific company because you believe in that company’s products and their vision for the sport, then sponsorship may be an appropriate option.
After this time of reflection, I would recommend that the player take an inventory of themselves against this checklist to ensure that they can present themselves in the most favorable light to their equipment manufacturer.
- How long have you been playing with that company’s products? Do you use their products exclusively? Do you use their racquets, gloves, eyewear, grips, bags, balls, string, and wear their apparel?
- Do you play regularly during most weeks? Do you play in more than one facility? Do your peers respect your opinions on the game and on equipment?
- Do you run a league or challenge ladder? Do you participate in a league or challenge ladder?
- Do you run (or assist in running) shootouts or tournaments? Do you participate in shootouts or tournaments in your area? Do you travel to do so?
- Are you involved with a college team/club? Are you involved with growing the game with juniors?
- Do you coach/instruct and are you a certified instructor?
- Are you a USA Racquetball Ambassador?
- Are you a certified referee?
- Are you involved as a volunteer with a recognized state organization?
- Do you promote the game on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/SnapChat/YouTube/Livestream and other social media platforms?
I am certainly not stating that a player needs to be able to check all of those boxes in order to be considered for sponsorship, but the more involvement you have and can demonstrate with the game outside of your local clique of players, the more likely the company will be willing to gamble on investing in you joining their team.
If you aren’t already at a level where you are playing (and winning) on one of the pro tours, then you definitely need to be able to communicate about the social influence that you have on the players and potential players that you come in contact with.
A player seeking sponsorship should also realize that the equipment manufacturers have many different levels of sponsorship. From a personal discount type of sponsorship, to free equipment with sales responsibilities, to free equipment and tournament entry fees, to equipment/entry/salary. Don’t be surprised when you are offered the first type of sponsorship, as that is the least risky investment for a manufacturer when they have no prior knowledge of you or experience with you as a brand ambassador/promoter.
As far as who you should talk to, first talk to other players that are sponsored with the company you want to work with. Get a feel from them of the expectations that the company has and the experience they’ve had working with the company. If you are good with everything to this point, ask one of those players to introduce you to the state/regional/national coordinator for that manufacturer.
Once you know who to address your interest to, write a letter of introduction for yourself and include as many of the points above as you can honestly. Don’t over-estimate your number of friends/followers on social media, but do include the links when you have them. Ideally, get an endorsement from one of the sponsored players you know, and have them forward the letter of introduction to the appropriate coordinator. Having that personal endorsement/reference can be the most useful interest point that the manufacturer will consider when they first are hearing about you.
Let me know via the Contact page or the social media links above if you have any questions on this self-examination to sponsorship application process.