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Jim Thompson | @positivecoachus
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One of the most critical aspects of developing the team or league culture you want is gaining buy-in from players’ parents. A group meeting with parents is a wise investment, because people are more likely to live up to expectations if they know them.
Host your parent meeting in a private setting (such as the home of one of the coaches or parents), where you can have the full attention of the group. If this is not possible, then the meeting could occur before one of the first practices or games when parents would need to drop off their children anyway.
Here is a sample agenda and notes to help guide your parent meeting.
Share how excited you are about the upcoming season and having their children on your team. Share some of your relevant background as an athlete, coach, parent, and community member.
Learn more about the parents, too. You may say something along the lines of, “We’re going to spend a lot of time together, so let’s get to know each other.” You may then ask each person share their best, worst or funniest personal moment in sports.
Share your values as a Double-Goal Coach, whose first goal is winning, and whose second, more important goal is teaching life lessons through sports. Give them the PCA Parent Letter describing PCA’s three principles:
Ask for questions on each before you go on to the next. Ask for their support in building a team culture that reinforces those principles. Ask a “what–if” question: “What if an official makes a bad call against our team? Will you be able to set a good example for players and Honor the Game?”
Because mistakes are such a motivational problem, share the mistake ritual you intend to use with your team (such as the “no sweat” gesture of wiping sweat from your brow) and ask them to reinforce it from the sidelines.
In addition to goals such as winning and qualifying for postseason, share such goals as, “Every player” will:
Ask parents about their goals and hopes for the season. This may give insight into the players’ motivations. You also will begin to discern who will be most helpful and supportive of your goals, and who may present a potential problem. You don’t have to respond to everything right then. You can think about it and talk with specific parents later if they express goals that are inconsistent with your values.
Make sure everyone has practice and game schedules. Hand out a phone and email list, or get parents to sign up on a list for distribution later. Make sure they understand what equipment their children need, and leave plenty of time for questions.
Share your policy on playing time and missing practice (yes, you should have a policy in writing), which will help avoid future conflict. Let parents know when and how they can contact you (at work during the day, only in the evening, etc.)
Your parent meeting is a good time to find volunteers for any duties youneed help with, such as a snack or carpool coordinator. This provides another chance to see who is most (and least) enthusiastic to support the Positive Coaching culture you are trying to establish.
Sample Parent/Guardian Meeting Agenda
Double-Goal Coach Job Description
Parent Pledge Form
Jim Thompson is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Positive Coaching Alliance, a non-profit formed at Stanford University with the mission to create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports so that all youth athletes have a positive, character-building experience. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over to you. What have you found important to communicate in a preseason parent meeting? Share your suggestions in the comments section.
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