Sunday, March 30, 2014

The best time spent all year: setting parent expectations (tip #1)

Football season kicks off in two weeks. Prior to that, I'll sit down and spend quality time on the most important thing I will do all season: setting parent expectations for the season. This not only gets parents on the same page as you, it streamlines the coaches/parent meeting at the beginning of the season (hopefully you've answered the obvious questions in your email). For each season I coach, no matter what the sport, I take time to spell out what to expect for the season and email it to all the parents. This includes:
  1. What is the coaching philosophy for the season?
  2. What can the parents expect relative to playing time, instruction?
  3. What rules do the players and parents need to know?
  4. Are there any volunteering expectations for the parents?
For example, for football, even though I've had most of the kids on my team for multiple seasons, I'll explain in my email:
  1. Football is a team sport, and our rules and expectations of players support that.
  2. The regular season focuses on player development, players getting equal playing time, players trying out each position, and trying to equally distribute the ball to everyone.
  3. The playoffs is for competition. We put players in the positions that give the team the best opportunity to win. (This is a great example of the importance of setting expectations before the season so that no surprises come up.)
  4. Our team rules ("respect", "listen to your coaches", "try your best", "have fun")
  5. Asking the parents for a couple more coaches to help during practice.
  6. Send out links to game rules and schedule.
The specifics don't really matter... what matters is that you have specifics. I also recommend being as concise as possible. After all, you want the parents to take the time to read your email. But please take the time to execute this task. It's the best return on your time you'll get all year.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Youth sports coaching 101 aka time for a new blog!

Hockey season has just completed, and spring football is not yet upon us. As the mite coaches convene to perform post-mortems on what went well and didn't go so well during the past season, I thought it would be a good idea to start documenting youth coaching best practices - and what not to do - I've learned over the years. Here's my coaching checklist that I focus on each season...I'll dive into each of these over the coming weeks and months. As I do, I'll share my keys to how I've been able to combine fun, winning, and player development to create happy parents and players.
  1. Set parent expectations
  2. Set player expectations
  3. Consistent structure
  4. Keep it simple
  5. High expectations
  6. Realistic expectations
  7. Fair, firm feedback
  8. Groom leaders
  9. Separate player development from competition
  10. Experiment. More things won't work than will work.
  11. Tailor for the many, not the few