You are a young or inexperienced youth soccer coach, and you have a bunch of excited and excitable parents who are yelling at their kids or who are simoply eager to help. What do you say to them to get them on your side? How can we enlist them to be part of a great organization? If we don’t manage their expectations and focus their energy we are missing a great opportunity or worse, running th risk of drama. Drama is not good for the team!
Don’t worry! All will be well! Here is a technique I have used with great success: a Coach’s Letter To Parents” which establishes firmly the expectations of parents, players and coaches for the season. You can easily adapt this to suit your own needs. It has worked like a charm for me. It’s gratifying to see the parents using the right language of support and encouragement for their girls and it lets me focus on the job of coaching.
Here’s the letter:
Memo for: Parents of ___________Girls soccer team for _________ Subject: My coaching goals, perspectives and intent
1. I will coach the U10Gs as a volunteer. I have a lifelong love of soccer, played on a really good club team for a couple years in college and am competent in building skills and managing practices/games. I’ve coached many of the girls on the team already through 2 outdoor and 1 futsal (indoor) season, with excellent results as measured by our Big 5 (see below).
2. My focus for the girls are the Big 5, and it’s how we as a team will keep our focus and evaluate ourselves during and after every game:
1. Play hard
2. Have fun
3. Support your team
4. Love the game
5. Respect the other team and the referees
We are winners when we do that. I will keep asking them to express what these mean to them in their own words.
3. It’s very important for you to be the parents of your girls, and let me be their coach. They thrive on knowing they have your unconditional love, admiration and enthusiasm, and letting me challenge them on the technical aspects of the game. The Big 5 would be an excellent set of discussion points with your girls to reinforce what’s really important for them at this age.
4. My goals are to provide a supportive environment for the girls to grow strong character through healthy competition and to develop their individual and team skills in soccer. I want them to contribute to and value the strength of their team. We know that strong, positive, social groups are an important source of moral strength for our girls in the teen years.
5. My focus on the girls as players is to give them equal time to play, and to help each girl grow her skills each practice, game and week. We measure success by our effort, our attitude and how far we have come.
6. My relationship with parents has been very good and I appreciate your help in reinforcing the lessons above through positive language and good sportsmanship.
7. I strongly encourage you to be active with your daughter in between practices. Soccer is great fun and kicking the ball around is a great way to burn some calories and enjoy playing together. If you’d like to help at practice, we can make that work too.