Water Play

This article is designed to serve as an introduction to managing water sports equipment and I’m pleased to incorporate the thinking of Walker and Seidler (1993) regarding the organization of various key concepts, presented within each of the management steps identified below.

Further, I’ve adopted, for the purpose of this introduction, the following definitions …

Non-disposable equipment: Those items that have a life expectancy of several years or seasons; or are relatively expensive, like water polo goals, starting platforms, springboard diving boards, and so forth.

Disposable equipment: Those items that have a life expectancy of a season or less or may be good for a couple of seasons, but are relatively inexpensive, like goggles, swim caps, life vests and other like items.

Fixed equipment: Those items that are, by their nature, stationary and cannot be moved, like docks, outdoor lighting, canoe racks, and so on.

Portable equipment: Those items that are, by their nature, movable from one location to another, like portable guard stands, equipment carts and lane and safety lines.

Water sports equipment: Equipment that serves as an activity-related, tool or implement, in an aquatic sports or play environment.

Frequently, as program managers, we forget that fewer rules may require and nurture more imagination (the author’s plug for developing creative and physically active lifestyles).

However, as equipment managers (perhaps only another hat for the same person), providing the proper equipment for water play or sport, is our responsibility.

The Selection Process

To select the proper equipment for water sports, the manager must focus on both the program and operation of the specific aquatic environment.

Of primary consideration for any manager will be maintaining safety in the aquatic environment related to its operation. A concurrent consideration is the quality and utility of selected water sports equipment.

Risk management regarding legal liability and various safety factors are discussed later. However, the first step in the selection process is to determine your programmatic needs. Nobody needs water sports equipment of poor quality, or that is unsafe to use.

Therefore it is essential that the manager identify the equipment needs based upon aspects of utility, quality and safety. To the extent that a program requires so many sets of a specific type of safety gear, like water polo caps with ear guards, the need is defined by the rules of the sport.

When the rules specify that each participant must have on a cap, then there is a finite number required to offer the activity (safety). Having a few extras, and allowing for two teams (two colors), will help determine the number needed to play (utility).

At this point, the final consideration takes into account aspects of budget and wear (quality).

The manager must have a clear understanding of the aquatic environment — the operations and program — to complete a needs assessment and offer up a listing of disposable and non-disposable items required.

Walker and Siedler identified a comprehensive listing of the areas to consider when conducting a needs assessment, including:

• Available space and facilities (consider the operation)

• Desired activities (consider the program)

• Safety and health of the participants (consider the established standards for safety and health)

• Number of participants (consider the established standards per participant)

• Cost (consider the initial cost, maintenance/repair, and product warranty)

• Staff and supervision (consider involving those who will be working/supervising operations)

• Instructor/coach input (consider involving those who will be implementing programs)

• Continual learning (consider the need to stay on top of changes in various products)

• Storage (consider storage requirements)

• Age/gender/skills/physical and mental abilities (consider the nature of the participants)

• Type of organization (consider the profit status and mission)

• Length of season (consider how long the equipment will be in continual use)

• Geographic location (consider the location, climate, and local environment)

• Fit (consider the need for proper sizing of all protective equipment)

• Inventory (consider what you already have to work with)

• Prioritizing (consider prioritizing your list going from needs to wants from high to low)

Inventory, Control & Accountability

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