I am not trying to be funny with the title of this post. In today’s environment, a youth coach must pay as much attention to the players’ parents as much he does to the players on the field. Unlike my parents 30 years ago, today’s parents are much more involved in their children’s lives. And as coaches, we must recognize this fact and adjust our coaching styles to meet the demands.
A few years ago in the responses from our end of season parent player questionnaire, our parents requested more team parties and parent only socials during the season and one or two during the off-season. They wanted to get to know the players and parents, instead of just sitting quite in the stands during the games and at practices and not knowing anyone. So in Denver after our mandatory parent meeting were we discussed team rules etc, we ended the first practice with a BBQ and a player / parent introduction. Each player introduced themselves and their parents and told a few facts about their parents. The parents also introduced themselves and other siblings. We also held a fund raiser and or party every month during the football season to get everyone together and socialize.
This Spring 2010 season in Keller, we decided to have team parties and parent mixers. I was surprised that many of the parents on our new Keller 2nd / 3rd grade team have never had team socials nor have any of their friends from other teams. I think it is key to get to know the parents off the field and develop those off field relationships. These relationships will help when you discuss little Johnny’s play time and development as a player. They will understand you as a person not just as a coach.
Look, most of us love the sport we coach and love coaching kids, otherwise we would not be youth coach volunteers. If we are not having fun on and off the field and building life long relationships, both personal and professional, then we are doing ourselves a disservice. The riches we gain from volunteering coaching youth sports are the lives we impact in a positive way. I still remember many of my youth coaches like I was still on the field. And today, your positive impact can also affect the parents, especially since many of these players are single parent families. We all need help. Don’t look at parents as the enemy, they can be a huge help, you only need to ask. And if you think the parents are the enemy, do like Sun Tsu said, know your enemy like yourself.
Have fun and winning is funner!