Preparing for the start of the fall sports season is exciting, hectic and demanding. It seems that no matter how well you plan, loose ends seem to occur every year. In addition to your administrative duties, welcoming your coaching staff and introducing hundreds of student athletes and their parents to your program is a major undertaking.
Can we make this transition from summer break to the new school sports year, easier?
We think so. Here’s how.
Highlight reel: A critical part of building the positive team culture we all want is ensuring that parents and coaches are on the same page. It’s easier for people to live up to expectations for positive, civil behavior if they know what those expectations are. By gaining buy-in from players’ parents and guardians before the season starts, coaches are laying the foundation for a successful season.
YOUR SOLUTION FOR A SMOOTH START. THE PRE-SEASON MEETING
Many athletic directors and coaches host some type of pre-season informational meeting for student athletes and their parents. Traditionally, the purpose of a pre-season meeting is to establish expectations for issues like team rules, appropriate athlete behavior, eligibility, physical exams, practice and competition schedule, fundraising, and playing time.
Pre-season meetings can also present an extraordinary opportunity for athletic directors and coaches to create an atmosphere of open communication between players, their parents, and the coaching staff. By scheduling a pre-season coach-parent meeting, you can enable and enhance communication between you, your players, and your players’ parents and guardians, laying the groundwork for true collaboration with families — and reducing the likelihood of conflict.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
To set themselves up for success in the pre-season meeting, coaches need to have a well-designed meeting plan where they can clarify goals and expectations while setting a positive tone for the season ahead. This proactive approach takes some time, planning and effort, but it can result in fewer headaches once the season is underway.
As part of this proactive approach to your own pre-season meeting, you should also use this time together to help team parents understand how best to support their child’s sport participation — and what constitutes appropriate parent behavior. Additional topics you’ll want to cover in the meeting include:
- Your coaching philosophy
- Team goals
- Team and school rules and policies
- Player and parent expectations
- What athletes and parents can expect from you
Coaches and ADs — don’t underestimate how important it is to explain your personal coaching philosophy and priorities to parents, as well as your goals, and how you feel about the importance of honesty, work ethic, and good sportsmanship. These values are important in sports— and life—and parents should know that you’ll be on the lookout for these attributes. Remind them that the biggest benefit of participating in a sport isn’t winning or playing time, its growth and personal development.
PARENTS AS PARTNERS FOR SPORTS SUCCESS
An exceptionally important aspect of the pre-season meeting is establishing a relationship with your players’ parents.The pre-season meeting isn’t just your chance to outline what you expect from your players, but what you expect from their parents too. You want parents to understand how they can appropriately be involved, and that you appreciate their efforts.
Parents should leave the meeting feeling like your partner, not your opposition.
To accomplish that goal, spend some time detailing your coaching experience and explain your goals and management plans for the year. By sharing this information, your parents will have a better understanding of, and respect for, where you are coming from.
It’s also important for you to understand where they are coming from, too; if possible, try to have one-on-one time with each player’s parents or guardians. A lot of problems can be stopped before they start by building a rapport and ensuring that parents understand your plans for the season.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE – AND GET IT IN WRITING
Documents like handouts and codes of conduct should clearly state the standards and procedures that need to be followed and can help reinforce your guidance to players and parents long after the pre-season meeting is over. These documents, which should require their signatures, indicate that they have read these rules and guidelines — and agree to follow them. While the majority of players and parents will never need to be reminded of the roles and responsibilities they agreed to, providing this guidance in document form is a fair and practical way to hold them accountable for their actions.
Learn more. inCourage delivers research-based solutions for improving the culture of youth sports. Our engaging videos and informative educational resources are available for free to anyone who wants to create better communications and outcomes to keep kids happy, healthy and in the game.
We provide these tools for free because we believe there should be no barriers to accessing the tools we need to improve the culture of youth sports and keep more kids in the game.