"The New Coach" - Setting Expectations (2 of 5) / by James Leath

“Hey, want to coach this year? We really need you.” The dreaded question that requires you to either lie about how busy you are, or commit to being responsible for a group of other people’s kids. Last week, I launched a five-week series based on some things I believe will help new youth coaches find success. This week, in part two of five, I discuss setting expectations.

Part 2: Setting Expectations.  

Setting expectations with parents at the beginning of the season can save you a lot of negative texts, emails, and phone calls throughout the season. Remind parents what the point of the league is (recreation, school, club) and list the skills they will learn and refine while under your supervision. You will never be able to satisfy 100% of the parents you coach, but stating your coaching philosophy (what you think is important and what you will be focusing on) will put many parents at ease. Also, perhaps a reminder that no scholarships will be given out during any point of the season will make parents smile, but also serve as a reality check in case any parent needs one. If you click here you can see a sample email to send to parents at the beginning of the season. Send the email, then give them a call a day or two later to discuss. A five-minute call at the beginning of the season could be the very thing that puts a parent in your corner when something unexpected happens.

Handing a child a bunch of seemingly arbitrary rules and asking them to follow them is not the most effective strategy to attain athlete compliance. A better way, in my experience, is to give the team three or four expectations and let them come up with consequences, not punishments. For example, ask them what they think would happen if you were late to your full-time job. You’ll get all sorts of answers. Use that moment as a teaching moment to relay the lesson of decisions, choices and consequences. Be careful not to set any expectations and consequences you foresee having to break. Have the athletes sign the paper and keep it with you during practice and games. For an example of something I do at the beginning of each season click this link: “Designing the Ultimate Teammate.”