Staging Your Soccer Team’s Parent Meeting

parent-meeting

Coach, you have taken the plunge. You have volunteered to coach your child’s U-8, 10 or 12 soccer team. You’ve probably played soccer yourself; perhaps even coached before. You will find that most parents are reasonable and well-behaved, most of the time. But frankly, it is not always sunshine and rainbows out there in the world of youth sports.  If you don’t lay the proper groundwork at your parents meeting, you may find yourself swatting at hornets while racing from mamma grizzlies. Hold a proper parents meeting, state clearly your expectations for proper parent and athlete behavior, and you can eliminate a host of headaches from the outset.

ORGANIZING Your TEAM:

Social media drives much of our lives. Use it. As soon as you have a roster and schedule from your League, create a Facebook group specifically for your team. Post the schedule (practice and game) and roster. Your roster should have email addresses for all your parents. Invite them to join the page. Let them know that this page will be your primary form of team communication for the season. Consider a separate ‘soccer coach’ email address.

Create a youth soccer background on your team page.  Post photos of yourself – a profile shot and several of you kicking a ball around with your child. Post several comments about “positive soccer parenting.” Post your coaching/teaching philosophy to your page (See I-E below). Your theme: “I am the Coach. We are warm and welcoming.”

You need an Assistant Coach. Begin the search on your FB page because another parent is your target candidate. You might also ask the local high school soccer coach. Many HS kids need service hours. Vet the high school player thoroughly. Meet the kid with his/her parents. Provide the parent with the schedule. Discuss your assistant coach’s role and your expectations with both parents and player. No surprises.

SET the DATE:

We are all tightly scheduled. If you want everyone to attend your meeting, give everyone two weeks’ notice. The one parent who is too crazy-busy-important to make the meeting and insists that you change the date/time/location to suit their schedule will be the biggest pain in your backside. Set your date. Post it. Stick to it. Get that problem parent to the meeting and the 90% of your parents who know the drill will take over. Peer pressure can be useful.

If your soccer facility has a barn/storage/meeting facility, grab it for your meeting. If not, one of your league or team sponsors is your next go-to; restaurant, coffee shop, diner. Next choice; reserve a classroom at your child’s school. Do not hold your meeting at your home.

BEFORE the MEETING:

1)    Screen this PSA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho6ae09ZcWQ

  •       I highly recommend that you show this five minute PSA (or something similar) to your parents.

2)    Post your agenda to Facebook.

3)    You need:

  • A laptop or other projection device- It is good to  have soccer highlights playing as the meeting assembles in addition to showing the PSA during meeting
  • Pens and name tags
  • Sign-in sheet.
  • Copies of the meeting agenda
  • Clipboard or coaching white board for Balance the Field demo ( Balance the Field explained here)
  • Several soccer balls

 

SHOWTIME:

I.  INTRODUCTIONS & QUALIFICATIONS (shake hands with each parent as they enter-warm and welcoming!)

A. State Your Qualifications: Perhaps you’ve played and/or coached. Perhaps your sole qualification is you want to be involved with your kid and you are willing to learn/study/attend clinics. Both are valid.

B.  Introduce your assistant. Don’t have one yet?  Here’s your time.

C.  Team parent

      1. Coordinate snacks, drinks, etc.

      2.  Coach DOES NOT take this on.

D.  Team Videographer – every team has one parent that loves video. Find that parent. Have them shoot at practice and games. Make it fun. Make it short. Post them to the team Facebook page.

E.  State your philosophy. Mine was simple.  

  •        I want everyone’s child to have a positive experience.
  •        Encourage Effort. Celebrate success.
  •       This is a development league – for players & parents, coaches & referees

II. OUTLINE your coaching philosophy

A. Winning, losing, fun, sportsmanship, learning, safety, playing time

B. Everyone plays every position (including goalkeeper)

C. Brief overview of a typical practice (more on how to structure practices in a future installment)

III.  DEMONSTRATE – demonstrate a few basic skills and rules

A.  Striking the ball properly for a pass (use several parents and players)

B.  Receiving a pass properly

C.  Avoiding Herdball – Do the Balance the Field demo 

D.  Basic Rules Rundown

1. Goal-ball must pass completely over line

2.  Handballs

3.  Lines are in play

4.  Offsides – the last defender is a ‘moveable blue line.”

III.  EXPECTATIONS

A.  Players

1.  Fair play & sportsmanship

2.  Learn individual and team skills

3.  Try your hardest- Effort is everything

4.  Consequences for bad behavior-yellow card, red card, suspensions – specific to your League

B.  Parents

1.  Discuss your expectations for good parental behavior

2.  Positive cheering

3.  Support for referees

4.  Parents speak with you, don’t undermine coaches & officials

5.  Show video

6.  Assume everyone will behave properly

7.  Ask for parental peer pressure assistance when a parent is ‘off-track”

8.  Consequences for poor parental behavior-specific to your League

9.  Stress the positive –

a.  Very few parents behave badly.

b.  Use positive peer pressure to re-shape the behavior of negative parents.

IV.  SAFETY

A. What issues might arise?

B.  What procedures have been put in place?

V.  LOGISTICS

A.  Communication

1.  Unable to attend practice/game? Coach needs to know beforehand

2.  Exigencies (weather, cancellations, etc) – communicated via FB page

3.  Schedule

4.  Pick-up after games and practice (“I am not a baby-sitter. Please be prompt to pick up your child. I will never leave a child here unaccompanied but I won’t be sending you any Christmas cards if it happens more than once.”)

5.  Equipment

a.  Uniform

b.  Shinguards,goalkeeper gloves, jersey, helmet etc.

c.  Water bottle

d. Everyone needs a soccer ball labeled with name

VI. WRAP-UP

1.  Questions and answer

2.  Re-state your philosophy

3.  Restate that all info is communicated on the team FB page.

4.  Thank them for trusting their children to you.

POST-MEETING:

Via FB, thank everyone for their attendance. Post  links to YouTube clips which demonstrate the rules and techniques you discussed.

In Conclusion:

COACHES: In coaching, as in business and life, clear expectations make everyone’s life markedly easier. You will not have another opportunity to get the parents on your side. Coaches, read this article. (Consider posting this link to your team page.) By understanding the difficult parent, you will come to understand how to deal with the difficult parent.

  • The behavior you model towards referees, the opposition, parents and your players, will be adopted by your players and parents. You ARE being scrutinized.
  • Many of your parents are new to youth sports. Their anxiety will produce interesting behavior. In addition, many parents feel their child is a reflection of them. When dealing with an unhappy parent, you are well within your rights to take a deep breath, say “Let me think on that. I’ll get back to you” and then walk away. But do get back to them.

Coaching is a most remarkable experience. You will rarely have the opportunity to positively shape the behavior of young people in a way they will remember all of their lives outside the white lines of athletics.

PARENTS:  Remember that U-8, 10 & 12 soccer is all about development; for the players, coaches, referees and you. There are 13,000,000 youth soccer players in the USA. There are 2,000,000 youth soccer players in Canada. From those 15,000,000 kids, about 15,000 enter college soccer at any level.  Have patience with your child. If you want your kid to beat the 1000 to 1 odds, allow them to succeed and fail at their own pace. (This is especially true with kids who have fall birthdays – more on this in a later installment.)

  • Have patience with your coaches and referees. They will make decisions that may cause you to scratch your head. When you are puzzled by a coach’s actions, first put yourself in the coach’s position.  Coaches must put the needs of the team ahead of the wants of any one particular parent or player.
  • If you have a question for a referee, feel free to pleasantly ask for an explanation of a ruling following the game. Pleasantly. Questioning the call (“You moron, WTF were you doing calling offsides on that goal my kid scored at the end of the half!!”) is not the same as asking for clarification (“Could you explain how the offsides rule was applied?”). The Golden Rule applies here, parents. If you’re unhappy with the officiating, step up.  Volunteer as an official.
  • The behavior you model towards coaches and referees, the opposition, and other players on your child’s team will be adopted by your child. Act towards those people as you would have them act towards you.  In a time of stress, take a deep breath, be respectful of the coach’s time and skills, and ask questions in a reasonable way.

 

Coaches – You are in charge of a parent’s most precious gift.

Parents – Behave so that you make your children proud of you.

 

Our next installment: the Parents and Coaches Wish List.

PARENTS:

  • What makes a coach the sort you’d wish to have for all of your kids?
  • What do you wish your children’s coaches would do differently?
  • When coaches are behaving badly, what do you wish would occur to alter that behavior?
  • When you see other parents behaving badly, how do wish that behavior be handled?

 

COACHES:

  • What do you wish for in a great parent?
  • When coaching colleagues are behaving badly, how do you wish your League would handle it?
  • When parents behave badly, what do you wish would take place to correct the behavior?

I need your help to make this one work. Leave your comments here or tweet at me -@dstan58.

THIS IS NOT “What’s Your Beef?” Let’s keep it positive. Let’s keep it focused on identifying solutions, not complaining about behaviors.

Comments

The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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Comments

  1. “What makes a coach the sort you’d wish to have for all of your kids?”

    My kids are 5 and 2, and even when they are older, the two most important things I want from their coaches are, 1 – recognize that they are part of a team and not an individual. 2 – always make sure they are having fun.

    “What do you wish your children’s coaches would do differently?”

    At the age of my kids right now, the drills get a little stale by week 4. If I see my 5yo play red light, green light in soccer one more time I’m going to lose my mind. But, he loves it, so…

    “When coaches are behaving badly, what do you wish would occur to alter that behavior?”

    Tough one. Who are they accountable to during practices/games? After the fact I can envision a process being in place, one anonymous and online for feedback regarding bad behavior, but day of and in the thick of things? I don’t know that any good can come from challenging someone on the spot like that unless it’s egregious.

    “When you see other parents behaving badly, how do wish that behavior be handled?”

    In my crazy head, I wish there was something like the gong on the Gong Show or the big hook from the cartoons that basically let’s these parents know you have failed and it’s time for you to go.

This is what I think...

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