Why Preseason Meetings Are the Perfect Opportunity for Setting Parent’s Expectations for the Season
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One of the toughest parts of being a coach for a youth sports team isn’t always wrangling kids, sometimes it’s actually wrangling the parents. Between game time, practice schedules, carpools, and the highs and lows of winning and losing the games, there’s a lot going on. And though well-intentioned, sometimes parent’s excitement for their kids on the field can feel like micromanaging and can be a delicate balance for coaches. One of the most effective techniques to prevent and deal with situations like this is to set expectations early and often. A great time to set expectations and tone with parents is with a preseason meeting. These can be useful to get everyone on the same page in terms of the upcoming season by sharing:
Your goals for the team
Parents will appreciate you sharing your vision and plans for the season with them early on. Not only will it make them feel like they are part of the team, it will also help them get excited for the upcoming season and help build trust in you as the coach knowing you have set the direction for the team.
Your club or organization’s values, mission and code of conduct
Your club or league likely has core values or a mission that staff, coaches and players are expected to adhere to. Core values can give your team a sense of commitment and integrity, shape your team or club’s identity and provide guiding principles that you stand behind.
Share these with parents at your preseason meeting and let them know that both parents and kids are expected to live up to these values. If needed, you can refer back to these values/codes of conduct you shared during this meeting throughout the season to help with difficult situations if they arise.
Expectations for practice & game attendance
Are there a set number of practices and games you expect your athletes to attend? Great! Make sure parents know that from the start. Keep in mind that emergencies happen as do family vacations, so ensure you have some wiggle room in your attendance policy to help parents and kids have a good sports/life balance.
Expectations for playing time
This may be different from team to team and from one club to another. Either way, if you plan to strictly play based on performance and effort, state that from the start so parents understand that from the get-go. If missed practices impact playtime, now is the time to share that information. Setting these expectations straightaway can help coaches later when inquisitions about playing time arise. If your organization or team emphasizes equal playtime for all players, regardless of performance, let parents know that, too. Playtime might be one of the reasons they chose your team in the first place, so confirming this at the start of the season is a great way to assuage any concerns they might have down the road.
Clearly define your preferred method of communication and feedback channels in this meeting. Don’t want to be available 24/7 via text or email? You don’t need to be and that is a certain recipe for coach burnout. Instead set expectations for the season for times you are available/reachable so parents know how and when to contact you for questions or discussions. Cut down on schedule and carpool questions from parents with a sports management solution that shares your team’s schedules and rosters with parents to keep everyone connected. A single communication app designed specifically for teams, clubs and leagues like yours, can make a huge difference for coaches and parents.