An essential part of any club with junior teams is the parents of the players. In some clubs parents are actively involved on a regular basis, either helping out, providing lifts, washing kit or just making tea. However, how often is it the same small group of parents week in, week out, leaving a silent but overwhelming majority who simply drop off and pick up, or maybe don’t get involved at all.
The parents you see every week, will generally tell you want they want and expect from your club, and often they are willing to help. But what about the rest, those you recognize by the car that leaves the car park each week?
We’ve asked the question – what do parents want from your club and found the themes repeated on a regular basis. I’m sure that you’ll say that it’s obvious what parents want, and on the whole you’d be right – it is obvious once you know:
opinion is hugely divided. Over half of parents want their child to be in an environment that is competitive, both within itself and with other teams. Competing for a place in the team, and then competing with other teams (successfully) is a clear reason for the majority of parents to bring their child to your club.
HOWEVER, don’t forget that for almost the same number of parents again, competition is not important – it can even be negative and put them off. The message – compete to win – but not at all costs. Don’t alienate fringe players and those that need developing. Regularly ignoring a player is a sure fire way to lose the parents.
most children start playing team sports with little idea how to succeed at it. Parents rely on you as a coach to show them the way, and expect to see improvement in the individual and the team. The message – method is open for debate, but the outcome isn’t – make sure that the kids you coach develop their skills.
regularly and consistency. Parents hate guessing what might or might not be happening. And even more they hate having to ring and ask, just in case it makes them look stupid. Tell parents, simply, clearly and consistently about:
- Venue changes
- Kit requirements
- Away trip delays
- Any money the children need
The message – don’t rely on word of mouth (especially children’s mouths). Letters can get lost or forgotten. Tell parents how you will communicate and do it.
everybody has commitments – lots of them. Most are happy to commit to your club PROVIDING you make it clear to them what your expectations are from their child and from them. Tell parents how often you expect their child to train, when matches will take place, any trips or plans.
Tell them early, tell them often. Parents simply loathe extra things that they hear about at the last minute, extra kit purchases that are needed that they didn’t know about (for some parents cost is a major influencing factor in their child joining your club). The message – Give parents a realistic expectation up front. They can also set their child’s expectation. If things change (and they often do), give a clear explanation and as much notice as possible.
Get these things right and your club can go from strength to strength. Focus on your players, they are your primary concern, but don’t forget who lets them attend, gets them there and pays the bills.