Cut down complaining parents by 60%!
Whether coaching at the t-ball level or older, it is imperative to do this to curb at least 60% of any complaints from parents. The Parents Meeting is something I did not do when I first began coaching but when I started to do them, the organizational running of the team went much smoother and complaints went down. Please read this article, look at the outline and develop your own style when organizing your own Parents Meeting.
The Parents Meeting: A Must for The Youth Baseball Coach
Each year I organize a parents meeting approximately two to four weeks before the start of the season. I prepare a handout of approximately three or four pages. Included is a list of the team with phone numbers, e-mail addresses and certain philosophies and organizational items.
People might say, “Well this is only youth baseball, it’s not high school.” This is true, but I have learned over the years that a parents meeting will make for a better run season for the kids, the parents and the coach. The meeting should not go more than ten or fifteen minutes. I leave a fair amount of time for a question and answer period.
I make this meeting a requirement for all parents. I try to lay out my goals and express to the parents about how I run my practices. Also, I tell them that players have to arrive at games 30 minutes before they start and if they cannot make a game, they must call me. It is very important that I let the parents understand I know their busy schedules and that as a coach you go through the same thing with ballet, karate, soccer, car pools, school work, etc.
Probably the most important point I go over is that because of my own busy schedule, I cannot run a taxi service for any players. Parents must be at practice five minutes before it ends. When I first began to coach, I never addressed this and after each practice I had a car full of players to drop off. As coaches, this cannot be part of our jobs for more reasons than one.
I also address any complaints parents may have during the season. I developed a standard policy of not taking any complaints for at least five games. This cuts down on a lot of phone calls and most of the times a complaint by a parent about playing time is taken care of by the sixth game.
Since I began doing this, I have had only a handful of complaints for a whole season in about the last eight years. When I first started coaching, I would go home after the game and there would be two or three messages on my answering machine.
As a coach, there are a lot of responsibilities and I try to cut down on the phone calls as much as possible. One system a lot of people used to use was the phone chain. Now we do everything by e-mail and I insist a reply like “got it” or “will do” just so I know we are on the same page.This is effective only some of the time. Another system I use which is similar is the buddy system.
At the beginning of each year I ask for a couple of parent volunteers to help with the phone calls. Then I assign each player a buddy. So if there are twelve kids on the team, there are six pairs of buddies. The first thing I tell them is that if there is any question on practice time or location, call their buddy before they call me. And if their buddy isn’t home, call someone else on the team list.
If it is raining, I call my two phone volunteers and divide the calls in half. Remember, each player has a buddy so they should never make more than three calls and maybe a call back to me. Any system you try isn’t full proof and during the course of the season you can expect your share of calls.
There can be a whole lot of things to address at this meeting. Each coach might have their own pet peeve to discuss. The most important thing is to make sure you have each of the points you want to bring up in writing. This way, you are sure to touch on the points most important to you.
Remember, you are volunteering your time and you have a right to make the season run as smooth as possible for yourself, and that's the way you want it to be for your team as well.
Below is a list of my outline for my parents meeting.
Parents Meeting Outline
- Arriving to practice on time
- Practice pickup
- Opportunity Time
- Team Parent
- Playing time
- Fan behavior
- Water bottle
- Other teams player is on
To see the explanations, my book Baseball Coaching: A Guide For The Youth Coach And Parent should be available in hard copy and e-book format at your local library. This section begins on page 33. The Parents Meeting is a must! Please spend time organizing one for your baseball or softball team. It will pay long term dividends!
Here is a bonus drill anyone can do that takes a little preparation but it works with most kids:
*Four Square Step and Throw Drill
Teaching players to step and throw using a cardboard template.
Cut out four squares from heavy duty cardboard or construction paper. Each square should be 18” by 18” in size or less. Once the squares are made, hollow them with a border about 2”-3”. A sharp utility knife works.
3-5 minutes repeated over a number of practices.
This is one of those drills that is not an exact science. I tend to go with the theory of getting players to step and throw and not to worry about perfect stepping technique. A huge issue when you do this drill is that many young t-ballers will have problems combining throwing techniques and stepping before throwing. If you can get players to step and throw in a halfway good rhythm, they will be ahead of the pack.
I recommend the squares 18” X 18” but can be less.
If you feel industrious, you can get the squares laminated
and increase the life of them.
Put the 4 squares where the player’s feet start and finish.
Ideally if you can cut out more sets of squares, you can have
more lines. You can also set this up as a separate station. Like all sports drills, we want to eliminate standing around.
5. First have the player do this drill once or twice without a ball so they can focus on their footwork starting in the first two squares and landing in the squares after stepping and throwing.
6. Like most of the technique skill drills, have the players throw the ball into a fence or into empty space.
It is important for the coach to demonstrate putting the squares at the appropriate spacing for the players’ size. The coach should also have one of the more skilled players on the team demonstrate. Practicing without a ball to throw is an excellent way to start this drill. Keep going without a ball until you determine it is a good time to combine throwing the ball with the footwork. Have each player first throw without the squares then put the squares down to match the stride of the players.
The cut out squares will give players a sense of where their feet should land. This drill will show players how to step when throwing.
*This is from Marty Schupak's book T-Ball Drills.