In every relationship, you must have a good communication for it to be healthy.
That truth applies to family, friends, co-workers, and yes, it also applies to youth sports.
After 28 years of being a coach’s wife and 21 years as a sports mom, I’ve concluded that the biggest conflicts resulted from poor communication. You can minimize problems and keep the team relationships healthy by focusing on these channels of communication.
Good Communication From Coach to Team & Parents
One of the biggest frustrations we faced was when coaches didn’t clearly and effectively communicate about schedules and changes to those schedules. As a sports parent, I ask that every coach:
- Hand out a season schedule at team tryouts or signups. This type of early communication helps families plan ahead.
- Effectively communicate all schedule changes as soon as they are made.
It’s also important for coaches to explain their coaching philosophy and give players an understanding of how they run things.
At the pre-season parenting meeting, this is what parents needs to know:
- How and where to sign up for volunteering
- All costs—from uniforms to travel expenses
- A schedule of all games and practices
- Contact information for coaches and team parents or instructions on how to use an online organizational website
- A Hierarchy: who to contact regarding what (i.e. volunteering, team meals, etc)
- Team Picture Date
- Team or League Rules and Policies
Sports parents do not want to be surprised after the season has started. They want to know all the details up front. They want to know what to expect from the coach, what is expected of them, and what is expected of their kids. Consistent, clear communication is the only thing that will keep things running smoothy on the team.
If the true purpose of youth sports is for kids to grow and develop, then it’s also important for coaches to communicate the why behind the what. Why your child isn’t getting as much playing time as she wants. Why your son can’t play the position he wants. Why the coach is running this offense or defense.
Good Communication From Parent to Coach
This is where communication gets tricky because parents tend to go overboard with communicating to the coach when it concerns playing time, positional issues, and coaching strategy.
I’m not talking about that kind of parent-to-coach communication. That is a subject for another post; I’m referring to parents communicating information that the coach needs to hear, such as medical issues, why a child isn’t at practice, if a kid is struggling with studies, or any emotional issues that might affect his or her play.
To ensure that parents can easily communicate with the coach, he must let them know what is the best way to reach him. Some coaches prefer email; others are okay with texting. That is information that should be communicated to parents at the very beginning of the season. Again, an online organizational tool usually has email tools to help parents communicate with each other and with the coach.
Good Communication Between Parents
It’s important for parents to know how to get in contact with each other, whether the team parent provides a physical list of names, numbers, and emails, or connects them through an online tool.
Make communication easy so that parents can work out volunteer scheduling problems, get another parent to pick up their child after practice, or deal other team details. If the information is not at their fingertips, chances are the communicating will not get done.
Parent to parent communication also involves your interaction regarding issues and problems on the team. Encourage parents who are unhappy to take their complaints directly to the coach, not to other parents, and especially not to their kids.
And parents, remember to thank volunteers, coaches, and officials – they are grateful for words of appreciation because they often only receive negative feedback.