As we approach the start of Fall baseball (didn’t we just finish Summer ball??), it’s time for coaches to start prepping. At the start of every season I like to take time to review my notes on the prior season and think about what changes I can make as a coach to set up a successful season.
One area I constantly evaluate is how well I set parent expectations at the start of the year.
I’ve always found that the better I communicate expectations the smoother the season goes. There are two primary methods for setting early expectations: the parent meeting and the parent letter.
Both can be very good at helping parents understand what to expect from you during the season. Let me provide some suggestions on how to utilize both to set you up for a successful season.
Start With the Parent Letter
Once you have your roster I suggest emailing your parents your parent letter. Ask your parents to read the letter along with their player and ensure that they understand the expectations of their player and themselves. Also let them know that any questions can be addressed either at the parent meeting.
A parent letter is great for communicating items such as team rules, parent expectations, player expectations, general discussion of your coaching philosophy, your objectives for the season, and player discipline. This may seem like a lot to cover in a letter, and it is.
Perhaps the best way to ensure parent support is to be able to provide them an outline of your philosophy and principles that guide your decision making process. It is important that you think through these topics and are prepared with how you will deal with each. When you haven’t considered how you will deal with situations you’ll be faced with parents who disagree with your handling of a situation simply because they weren’t prepared for what to expect.
Writing a parent letter from scratch can be an intimidating task. Click the link below to subscribe to our blog and I’ll send you a FREE SAMPLE PARENT LETTER.
As you progress in your coaching you’ll undoubtedly find more topics or detail to add to your parent letter. As you get started the important thing is to make an effort to set expectations as best you can.
A parent meeting is an ideal setting to address any questions that parents may have after having a chance to review your parent letter. It’s also a great opportunity for the kids to get to know one another, if you’re starting a new team or adding new players. I typically have my son bring something for the boys to do during the meeting. I also hold the meeting at our practice site to avoid parents getting lost the first day of practice. This gives the kids something to do in a safe environment during the parent meeting.
Depending on the age group of the team you may also want to address topics such as what you expect to teach during the season, rule changes, stressing the importance of parent help during practice, etc. In my meeting I discuss how I teach hitting and throwing since my approach is a bit unorthodox. Since my teams are young I focus on “intent” (click here to read more about this approach). I want parents to understand the WHY behind what I’m doing. I also encourage parents to discuss any contradictory teaching that my happen in private lessons, if applicable.
The whole idea is to make sure they understand my definition of a successful season and how I plan to shepherd the boys to that goal.
Only the Beginning
These tools are helpful to get you started towards a successful season. But it’s up to you to continue communicating with parents during the year. It’s not uncommon for you to encounter a situation you didn’t foresee. Take those opportunities to address the situation. That may mean changing approach or setting a new expectation based on new events.
In either case, use it as an opportunity to be open with your parents about how you will address future issues. Your parents will appreciate it. If you set clear expectations early you can address most parental questions by referencing these early conversations.
And even if you do all of this there is still a chance that you have a problem parent(s). Communication goes a long way to making the season as easy as possible. But if you still encounter some parent problems check out this post on dealing with problem parents.
Question: What issues do you address with your parents at the start of each season? You can leave a comment by clicking here.