Why should youth sports coaches have a pre-season orientation in the first place? After all, it’s youth baseball/soccer/lacrosse/hockey, not the Olympic trials. Well a pre-season orientation is the perfect time to get to meet each one of your players and their parents (and let them meet each other!) and plan for the upcoming season. The next time you sit down for a pre-season parent orientation for your youth sports team, here are four things you should consider discussing:
Explain your coaching philosophy.
What are your goals for this season? What do you want to teach your players? Depending on the age of your team, you might be looking to teach them new and more advanced skills and complex drills. Describe what a typical practice might entail and let everyone know upfront what the plan for the season is so no one is taken by surprise later.
Ask for volunteers and assign responsibilities.
No sports team is an island, and even the best youth sports coaches need a little help from time to time. Getting sports parents involved can be a little tricky (especially if they are a little over involved) but volunteers are going to come in handy throughout the season. Which parents can carpool if someone needs a ride last minute? Is anybody willing to host a team dinner? Do any of the parents want to volunteer as your assistant coach during practices? You don’t want to be scrambling for help in a crunch, so knowing who wants to help upfront it going to make it a lot easier down the road.
Outline expectations for both youth athletes and their parents.
It’s important to teach youth athletes (and their parents) that their actions have consequences. If a player misses a practice will they lose playing time at the next game? What kind of sideline behavior from the parents won’t be tolerated and what happens if they get out of line? Outline your team rules and exactly what kind of actions you expect from your team so there is no confusion later in the season.
Pass out a season-long calendar with practice and game dates/times.
You want to give sports parents as much heads up as possible so they can start coordinating their schedules. This is especially important in multi-athlete families that have to juggle multiple team’s schedules and other extracurricular activities and commitments. The sooner they know about potential conflicts the easy it is to work around. If there are any big tournaments you’re thinking about taking your team to be sure to put those on the calendar as well, even if you’re not 100% yet so parents know it’s a possibility. If the league you belong to uses and online sports registration system you might be able to handle all of your team scheduling electronically.
We’d love to hear from coaches about what they talk about during a pre-season meeting with their players and parents.