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As a former youth sports player, amateur coach and now parent of children who participate in team sports, I’ve sat through and led many parent meetings – some were good, some were bad.
Most youth sports organizations have wonderful coaches and volunteer parent managers. But running an efficient and effective meeting for a group of parents is quite a task for anyone. In my professional life away from sports, I work in public relations. I run meetings frequently. Without a doubt, the best-run meetings are those that start with an agenda.
Youth sports could learn an important lesson from the communications profession: parent meetings must be run from a printed agenda.
Why have an agenda? There are many reasons. We, the attendees, tend to like structure. We like to see a roadmap of how a meeting will unfold. We want information and answers to flow logically. We like to tackle issues sequentially until we are satisfied; then, and only then, are we ready to move on. We want to ensure there is time to raise our concerns and share our ideas. We want to be sure we’re getting all the information we need. We like to have a document to take notes on and refer to after the meeting ends. We like to know there is a process for follow-up. We want to believe our youth sports leaders have given proper thought and preparation to such an important meeting.
An agenda looks professional and polished. It is a security blanket and it makes us feel good to have it!
Not using an agenda often results in unstructured meetings full of random commentary and conversations that dart from issue to issue without completely addressing all the questions and concerns of those attending. Bringing together a team and its family support structure can be a scheduling nightmare. It is critical to maximize that valuable time with efficiency, discipline and completeness. Using an agenda goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
Below is a sample kick-off parent meeting agenda outline for sports teams, which can be altered slightly to fit almost any sport and team:
NAME: [Springfield Soccer Club — U14 Girls Red Raiders]
DATE: [Aug. 21, 2015]
LOCATION: [Springfield Community Rec Center]
COACH/CONTACT INFO: [Coach Bill Smith, 703-555-5555, firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Introduce coaching staff, players and families. (Hand out roster and collect contact information)
- Goals for the Season
- What is the team trying to achieve?
- Approach to Coaching/Setting Expectations
- How will the team be coached?
- How is “playing time” determined, if appropriate?
- How should players prepare on and off the field
- Who is on the team? (Hand out roster)
- Is registration required? How? Deadline?
- Will there be guest players?
- Will players be moved off team during the season or be asked to play with other teams?
- Game/Meet/Tournament/Competition Schedule
- Hand out general outline of known contests, practices, meetings and other team functions.
- How will changes be communicated?
- How will the team train?
- How often are players expected to train?
- What are the ramifications of missing a training?
- Who will communicate with the team and how is it done (i.e., email list, team website, team management software like TeamSnap)
- How best to contact the coach (i.e., email, call, text)?
- Best and worst times?
- Process for communicating absences?
- What is required vs. optional?
- Where to get it?
- Approximate cost?
- What fees are required?
- When are they due?
- Are there scholarships and aid available?
- What do fees cover/not cover? How will team spend the budget?
- Will there be fundraisers? When? How will the proceeds be split?
- How will the team travel (i.e., together or individually)?
- What is the approximate cost?
- What are the parent/family volunteer positions required?
- What is the sign-up process?
- Any items not covered
- Open Q&A session
Greg Wilson is Senior Vice President at Curley Company, a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. He is the parent of three daughters who have played youth soccer, lacrosse, basketball, swimming and track & field over the past 13 years.