Hosting a soccer parents meeting is something you are not usually taught on coaching licenses but it is a regular occurrence of any leading soccer coach role. Setting expectations and sharing insight should definitely be on any coach’s agenda.
How do you host a great parent meeting for soccer parents?
It starts with selecting a venue and style of meeting (face to face, online), followed by outlining your meeting structure. Making a good first impression is important so using different delivery methods often helps.
These meetings can often seem intimidating and stressful, but it doesn’t need to be that way. In this article, I decided to give a detailed overview of how to host a great parent meeting.
Try to host a meeting at a convenient time for everyone so rather than hosting the meeting on different days to training or games, consider using one of these time slots to host it. This way someone would have been heading to your venue anyway so an earlier arrival time or finish time could be a great time to get started. Try to give at least 2 weeks’ notice as many parents may be struggling due to work commitments.
Location is important because you ideally need access to a computer and a comfortable private setting such as a hall or multifunction room to house everyone. This I feel presents a professional organization that cares and wants to get your buy-in and support.
An outdoor meeting is fine but try to make sure you are away from noise or distractions and ensure that the weather is suitable for people to stand around. The speaker may need prompts to support the outdoor-style meeting. This type of meeting is a little more formal but the key messages could be discussed face to face then a handout or letter could be provided with the finer details.
Hosting a meeting for soccer parents remotely via apps such as google hangouts, teams or zoom is another great option. This would be my suggestion if you do not have access to indoor facilities to host a meeting. Screen sharing is accessible and questions can be asked in chat boxes without people having to speak, people could listen at home or while they travel. This would be my choice if you do not have any indoor facilities.
My preferred overall preferred option is face-to-face in a multi-function room with a screen, suitable seating area, and ideally access to refreshments. I understand that is not always possible so coaches need to adapt to their environments and try to make the best of what they have.
The delivery method is important and should be matched to each coach. You could use a PowerPoint as a guide and prompt then share the slides as a handout to follow along. If the facility allows, the screen could be projected so parents can follow along as you speak.
A written bullet-pointed list may be more realistic for some coaches based on a lack of facilities or time, if using this method I would suggest attaching your list to a clipboard so you have a clear structure and range of prompts to support your delivery.
I would not suggest winging it as this may set a bad example and not paint a good picture of your organization’s professionalism. If you cannot take the time to prepare a meeting then what chance have you got of developing their children as soccer players.
The timing of the meeting is important, try not to go over 45 minutes as respecting people’s time is important, the time limit ensures that you are clear and concise. People do not want to listen to you rambling on for hours on end so make your points promptly and communicate clearly.
|SETTING THE DATES||PICK A CONVENIENT TIME FOR ALL AND SHARE THE TIME, DATE, AND VENUE FOR THE MEETING. TRY TO GIVE AT LEAST 2 WEEKS NOTICE|
|VENUE||SELECT THE LOCATION THE MEETING WILL TAKE PLACE AND ENSURE YOU SHARE THIS WITH ALL THE PARENTS|
|DELIVERY METHOD||PROBLEM SOLUTION, VISUAL, INTERACTIVE, AND REAL LIFE EXAMPLES WILL HELP TO ENGAGE THE PARTICIPANTS|
|TIMINGS||TRY TO LIMIT THE MEETING TIME TO AROUND 30 TO 45 MINUTES TO RESPECT PEOPLES TIME|
|GET PREPARED||HAVE SOME NOTES, PREPARE A POWERPOINT OR SOME NOTES, HAND OUT A BASIC CONTACT FORM TO COLLECT PERSONAL INFORMATION ABOUT EACH PLAYER, HAVE PARENTS BRING IT WITH THEM TO THE MEETING|
Agenda For Meeting
I have summarized a list of bullet points that are typical for a meeting agenda, feel free to use and adapt as necessary. I have also highlighted in brackets some suggested delivery methods within the bulleted list. The detail behind each delivery method is summarized in the next section of the post.
- INTRODUCTIONS: Introduce key staff and their roles for the team, share contact details then some basic detail around their experience and expertise and discuss why the club is a good choice. (video could work here)
- SCHEDULES, SIGN UP, KIT, TRAVEL: Provide an overview of a typical week to include start and finish times, travel arrangements, as well as kit the players maybe expected to provide along with any costs that maybe incurred once they are part of the club. Signing on arrangements and paperwork could also be discussed here.
- EXPECTATIONS: Share your expectations if their child is to become part of your set up. This could include information around attendance, punctuality, effort, commitment and application as well as expected game time. (this could be interactive quiz using finger votes)
- CODES OF CONDUCT: Discuss parent etiquette when observing and clearly outline the key do’s and don’ts on training and match days. Player codes of conduct maybe also be discussed here as well again basic do’s and don’ts
- PHILOSOPHY: Share your vision for the team, provide clear detail about how you will play and what a typical session will look like for the players, outline some basic goals or targets you may have for the team or individuals for that season. (real life examples could be included)
- FEEDBACK: Players and parents are entitled to receive feedback about performance. Discuss how you will do this and the way you would like people to approach you if they want to discuss progress, development or concerns they have. (problem solution could be used)
- COMMUNICATIONS: I would suggest handing out before the meeting a basic form which collects telephone, emails, emergency contacts, medical info about the player and discuss the set up of a parent group (watts app, facebook etc.) where key info is shared around logistics on a week by week basis.
- DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: Be clear with how the retain release process works, discuss how problems will be solved if they arise and be explicit that a child’s success does not indicate how good a parent they are, the child being coachable, respectful, a good teammate, resilient and giving their all, are traits that do link to your parenting (real life examples could be used here)
- QUESTION AND ANSWER: Leave a few minutes at the end for question and answer to allow parents to ask about anything they are not clear on.
Method of Delivery
The delivery method of a meeting is important as it is your first real opportunity to make a lasting impression, I would suggest that you consider building in some of the following ideas to to make it work:
- MAKE IT VISUAL: Try to use pictures, video interviews from former players, parents and coaches to reaffirm their choice. This will break up the meeting and support what you are saying about your club as opposed to the parents just taking your word for it.
- ENSURE ITS INTERACTIVE: Carry out a quick quick quiz or guessing game to emphasize your points, for example you could ask parents to answer questions about why most children play sport and get them to finger vote (hold up one finger, two fingers or three fingers) to answer your question and reinforce your messages. The parents or children could be used to do this interactive activity.
- OFFER SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS: Use the meeting to outline clear problems that their child may face and give some clear solutions around how these things have been resolved in the past. Don’t hide anything here be honest and open (game time, concentration, development).
- USE REAL LIFE EXAMPLES: Try use some real life examples of players currently with the team (older players, ex players) who are thriving as a result of the program or have overcome adversity. Relate to parents that these players progressed through this system so to speak and look at them now. Almost present evidence that they are making a good choice. Ensure you seek permission to do this before your meeting.
- CHANGE UP THE SPEAKER: There might be opportunities for the other coaching staff or volunteers to speak, utilize these people in your meeting to break up the meeting time and let them speak about various points on the meeting agenda
- RECAP OR REVIEW IT: Try to summarize the main points of the meeting in an alternative form such as a email or group message via social media. Reach out during this summary to ask the parents if they have any further questions or concerns that you can help them with before they make their choice or commit. A committee member or volunteer could record the minutes of the chat and use that to feedback the key messages.
Alongside the agenda points the delivery methods above help you to present your messages in a number of ways. This will make the meeting more engaging for the participants and take away some of the onus on you in doing all of the talking. If you do use the methods above, ensure they are relevant and help to make the points you want to make as opposed to unnecessarily dragging out the meeting.
Planning Is Everything
Take the time to plan this meeting carefully as some of the agenda topics could be quite extensive and change over time depending on your level of experience, for example, your expectations, philosophy, and ability to deal with difficult conversations. Each one could change as your skill level as a coach increases. The meeting is not the time to go through these extensively but having them in place before you coach or lead can keep you on track.
I have provided links below from this site that may help you improve your understanding of philosophy, communication, setting expectations, and having difficult conversations.
- WHAT IS A COACHING PHILOSOPHY ?
- HOW TO COMMUNICATE BETTER IN SOCCER: 8 TIPS
- MASTERING TOUGH CONVERSATIONS: DROPPING A PLAYER
- SOCCER PARENT ETIQUETTE
A plan can keep you on track, give you confidence in your own delivery and generally just simplify the process. The beauty of planning your meeting online is that you can save or keep the meeting and reuse its basic structure for future cohorts of players. The slides or documents can be updated to align with your own development as a coach and you may choose to build upon or eliminate certain elements of the meeting.
A basic run-through or pre-meeting with other coaching staff could be a good thing to do before you host your own meeting. This can help you ensure that the details are correct and align with the club’s policies, it can allow the other staff to contribute and give you a feel for how long the meeting will last.
Hosting a good meeting starts with the logistics, the coaches must establish venues, times, and dates. This information should be shared in advance to ensure that parents can make themselves available. Keeping the meeting time close to the same day and time as the players’ train is often a useful tip as parents are often coming to the venue anyway.
Respecting people’s time and trying to condense the meeting into a 45-minute window can maximize the purpose of the meeting. A meeting agenda will keep you on track but coaches should ensure within their delivery that they try to make the meeting interactive. Any information should paint a clear picture for the parents of what they can expect to be part of your team and leave no questions unanswered.
To deliver a good meeting, it will take time so set aside this time to plan the content of the meeting agenda will ensure that things run smoothly and to plan. A run-through with other coaching staff may be a useful thing to do so they can establish areas that you may have missed or they could be allocated sections of the meeting to lead so everything is not left to you.
I hope that the content of this article has been useful, please leave a comment below about any topics you feel we might have missed or delivery methods you have used that are different from the ones mentioned above.
How do coaches deal with overbearing parents? Firstly host a parent meeting like the one above to set your expectations, then be clear with how you would like to be approached if a parent wants to discuss an issue. Provide clear communication, this is what I see, let’s take some time to think it over, this is how it works here, can you align with this, try to stay in control at all times but be firm in your beliefs.
How do you respond to parents about playing time? Make sure what you said previously matches with what you have done or been doing, know what you want to leave the conversation with, and be sure to hear out the parent before you respond, you may finish with this is how it works here, take some time to think it over and let me know how you would like to move forwards.