For most parents, the biggest headaches in youth sports have nothing to do with playing time or a coach that plays your child in a position that you don’t like.
The biggest headaches are the things that take up your time and energy and can potentially derail a smooth season. You know them well if you’ve been a sports parent for awhile: safety, scheduling, fundraising, stats-keeping, and volunteers.
I’ve got some tips to help you get rid of these headaches and get you on the road to having a smooth and enjoyable season.
- Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, under the supervision of a physician.
- In case of an emergency, share contact information (phone numbers, doctor information and allergy information) with your athlete’s coaches. If your athlete has any history of asthma or other medical conditions that require special attention, tell the coach before the first practice.
- Make sure your child warms up properly before each game and practice. Stretching can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness.
- Be sure your kids wear the appropriate and properly-fitted sports gear during practice and games to help avoid minor and serious injuries.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.This information is important for coaches, parents and athletes.
- To avoid overuse injuries, Kids should have at least one or two days off from any particular sport each week.
- Know where your kids are at all times, whether you are on tournaments or just sending them down the street to practice. TeamSnap has partnered with Mama Bear App to assure that you can keep tabs on your children digitally. MamaBear is the leading-edge, mobile, all-in one parenting app that creates a private family communication hub providing parents with an efficient way to communicate, locate, organize and protect their children with peace of mind in this complex social and digital media age.
Sports parenting and busy-ness go hand in hand. Keep these things in mind as your calendar fills up:
- It’s Okay to Be Choosey. NO is not a dirty word, especially when you use it to filter events for your family. Decide what your family’s priorities are, then filter your events through them. It’s okay to be choosey. And it’s also okay to limit your children’s activities to one or two per kid per school year, or whatever you find manageable.
- Enjoy Being Guilt-free Busy Sports Parents. Don’t spoil the fun of watching your child play sports by feeling guilty for your busy-ness. If you don’t like it, then change it after the season. But feeling guilty will suck the fun and pleasure out of watching your kid enjoy himself.
- Don’t Sweat the Mess. If you get behind on your housecleaning and it starts to drive you crazy, try to let it go. You can’t let a messy house rule your life! Many weekends, the vacuuming did not get done because I was off at another tournament. Guess what? We survived. My kids did not grow up thinking about the dust bunnies in the corners, but they do remember the memories we made when they were playing sports.
- This too Shall Pass. That phrase is often used when consoling parents who are going through difficult seasons of life. But sadly, it also applies to the good times. So arm yourself with a good calendar and a plan for family event planning, forget the dirty dishes, and enjoy every minute while it lasts!
- Keep an Accurate Schedule. It’s crucial to staying sane. TeamSnap provides some great options for seamless scheduling: They’ve partnered with Diamond Scheduler to make scheduling your team activities easy and accessible. It won’t help you be less busy, but it will help you stay on top of your schedule. They’ve also partnered with the iPad and iPhone app Soccer Dad, which lets you manage multiple teams and organizes them by season. Full player contact information can be entered, so communication is a breeze.
As the cost of youth sports rises, so does the pressure on parents, who have to figure out a way to afford it. Before I tell you how to raise money without any headaches, let me give you a few tips for saving money in the first place.
- Be choosy. Overloading kids’ schedules drains our energies and wallets.
- Start simple. If your child is a beginner, choose sports with less expensive equipment.
- Investigate the sport. If you think your child might change his mind about an expensive sport like ice hockey or football, attend a couple practices with him the year before and let him decide if he really wants to play.
- Buy used equipment and sell last year’s equipment if it’s in decent shape. Sometimes you can even borrow from other families. And don’t shy away from buying last year’s model. If you know your kid will play a sport next year, buy new equipment at end-of-the-season sales.
- Bring your own drinks and food instead of buying at the snack bar.
- Put off traveling teams as long as your kids are little, city or YMCA-sponsored programs will give them a chance to play and develop their skills, without a large cost.
- Carpool with other parents for practice.
If you are looking for an easy way to fundraise for your child’s team, TeamSnap has partnered with FlipGive, a platform which enables you to purchase apparel, which then gives a kickback to your team.
Keeping team stats can be time-consuming and sometimes downright controversial. When my husband coached high school softball, he had moms arguing over the statbook–not a pretty sight.
Stats have their place in youth sports as a tool only to help players improve their game, not as the main focus.
To make your life as a coach or team parent way easier, TeamSnap partners with Snapstats, a statistics integration for baseball and softball which allows you to take a picture of the old style paper book and have it upload stats directly to TeamSnap. For lacrosse teams, they offer LaxStats, and for soccer teams, soccerstats.
Youth sports would not exist without volunteers. Some teams struggle more than others to get people to help out, but if you want to attract volunteers, then your team has got to become volunteer-friendly. This simply means that the whole process of volunteering— signing up, getting reminders, knowing where to go and what to do, being prepared for the job, and feeling appreciated—should be seamless, and it can be with good communication.
As you work with your volunteer team, keep these things in mind.
- Don’t be shy about asking for help.
- If you are the team manage, learn to delegate.
- Be clear about what is expected of volunteers.
- Make it easy for volunteers to sign up.
- Do time slots for volunteering, so that people can choose dates and times that work for them.
- Communicate frequently and clearly.
- Give parents plenty of notice for their volunteer duties.
- Be happy with whatever your volunteers can give. With everyone pitching in, doing whatever it is they can do, the job will get done.
- Say thank you to your volunteers.
- Beware of Volunteer Burnout.
- Allow for breaks, if the volunteer is serving for several hours.
- Be accessible. Give volunteers your cell phone should they have a question.
- Be a good listener. Listen more, talk less.
To streamline your volunteer oversight, TeamSnap has partnered with Volunteer Spot, a free application to help communities, schools, and non-profits get organized. Organizers can easily find out who is willing to help with different projects or events in one place, with reporting features. They have integrated with TeamSnap to tie your contact and communication application to numerous additional free features.
The Rest is Up To You
With these 5 headaches made at least more manageable, you can handle the other annoyances that pop up during the season, like the mom who yells in your ear as she’s cheering for her kid at the game, or the coach who doesn’t play your child as much as you think he should, or how to get that spot out of your child’s uniform…..