Parent Code of Conduct

Parent Code of Conduct

70% of kids drop out of organized sports by age 13. As parents, what we say during the game and especially on the ride home heavily influences how our kids feel about their experience. Are we focusing on having fun versus winning? Are we coaching from the sidelines when we are not actually the coach? Do our kids feel like mistakes are learning opportunities?

I think we’ve all been on the sidelines and witnessed parents yelling at referees or worse. The only way to curb bad behavior is to have the coach set clear expectations of parent expectations. And to enforce this code of conduct? My daughter’s soccer coach would call a mandatory meeting for all parents after a practice every time there was an infraction. This was extremely inconvenient for the parents of kids in carpools. After one such meeting, parents would remind other parents on the team of the rules during games because no one wanted to attend more meetings about the Parent Code of Conduct.

Parent Code of Conduct

Parent Code of Conduct

Setting clear parent expectations at the start of the season goes a long way into creating a positive team atmosphere. As part of your Team Orientation Packet, include a Parent/Athlete Code of Conduct and have both the parents and athlete sign an agreement. This is an opportunity to set clear expectations and goals for the team, both athletes and parents. You might want to start with overall goals such as:

  • Having fun.
  • 100% of kids on the team singing up to play this sport again next season.

I think it’s important for parents to know that girls drop out of sports six times the rate than boys according to the Center for Disease Control, and thus the goal of having fun and continued participation are actually quite ambitious goals. But how do kids define “fun” with regard to sports?

In a 2014 George Washington University study, 9 of 10 kids said “fun” is the main reason they play sports. Out of 81 reasons kids said sports were fun, “winning” ranked as 48. Young girls gave “winning” the lowest ratings.

In the 2014 George Washington University Study, the top six things that kids find the most fun in sports are:

  1. Trying your best.
  2. When the coach treats the player with respect.
  3. Getting playing time.
  4. Playing well together as a team.
  5. Getting along with your teammates.
  6. Exercising and being active.

“Winning” ranked 48th out of 81 factors defining fun in sports by kids. In young girls, “winning” ranked even lower. It’s clear that “having fun” is not related to “winning” in the eyes of the athletes. Parents need to understand that pressure to perform creates a negative environment and is a high contribution factor towards kids quitting sports before high school.

That’s where a Parent Code of Conduct can set expectations and even educate parents on what’s important to you, as the coach.

For more, please get How to Coach Girls book out March 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls


Handling a Losing Streak

Handling A Losing Streak

Let’s face it: winning doesn’t suck. That being said though, it’s the coach who determines the team’s focus. When my oldest started club volleyball, her team lost every game the entire season. What was amazing, though, was how her coaches made her feel. Because the focus was on development, their coach made them feel like winners because he could see visible improvement from game to game. He told them how proud of them he was and noted specific instances of how the team improved. It turns out, it’s not whether you win or lose, but how the team performs based on the goals the coach sets for the team. Setting goals around team chemistry and development is a more powerful message, both for sport and in life, for the players. The coach has the ability to transcend winning versus losing statistics into something bigger and more inclusive.

Handling A Losing Streak

Handling a Losing Streak

The first place to begin when creating team culture as a coach is to define team goals. What do we want to get out of our season? For me, team goals do not include win/loss record. Instead, my goals are focused on team chemistry. I believe that if there is team work in the form of good team chemistry, the wins will come.

Typically, a volunteer parent coach isn’t being evaluated on their win/loss record.  If team record isn’t being used to evaluate ourselves, what are the other measurements that we are using? Usually volunteer coaches’ priorities are based on if they are creating a healthy environment, and being positive. Continue reading “Handling a Losing Streak”

Coaching Your Own Daughter

Coaching Your Daughter

My husband coached all our kids for soccer in various capacities including head coach of kindergarten soccer, and assistant coach for our oldest’s U13 team where he ran a weekly practice session. It was harder for him to coach girls as they became tweens. He felt that the girls tended to waste time talking amongst themselves, and didn’t seem to take seriously enough. That put pressure on our daughter to be the “good example” which she did not enjoy. On the other hand, my husband felt he was volunteering specifically for her because the team had a coaching crisis. While they worked through their challenges as the season unfolded, it would have been helpful for them to address these issues before they stepped on the pitch.

Coaching Your Daughter

Coaching Your Own Daughter

Coaching your own daughter can be tricky. The best way to handle conflicts that arise when your mom or dad is also your coach I’ve found is to talk about it before the season begins.

Step 1: Accepting Your Parent in the Coaching Role

The immediate reaction of my daughter when she learns that I am volunteering to assistant coach her team is generally not one of enthusiasm. One way to position my role is to let her know that parents are helping out the team in different ways because of their skill sets and that this is my way of contributing. Parents who are good at computer skills are helping out behind the scenes by organizing carpools and snacks, ordering uniforms and sweatshirts, or doing team communications. My daughter probably didn’t realize that other parents help out the team because their roles are not as visible. Once my daughter realized that other parents are also volunteering, and that helping out practices is my strength, she willing to accept me in this role. Continue reading “Coaching Your Own Daughter”

Building a Player’s Confidence

I’ve noticed that every time my daughters’ come into something new, whether it’s a new team or a new sport, there’s a period of adjustment and of finding their place in the pecking order. During this assessment period, they aren’t feeling very confident. They rely on signals from their coach and teammates to relay to them that they are valued and that they are “good.” It’s an uncomfortable place of insecurity, of being judged, and of not having secure relationships with everyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s an individual sport or a team sport, I’ve noticed. For every new beginning, a player needs support to build her confidence.

Building a Player’s Confidence

Building a Player’s Confidence

There are some crucial fundamentals to establish in order to build a player’s confidence. The first step is to the culture that you create. It’s crucial to create a culture of safety. I, as your coach, can’t help you with your confidence level if you are looking over your shoulder thinking that you might be cut. First and foremost, is making every player feel safe.

How do you, as the coach, create this?

Trust is Number 1

It starts with trust and establishing a relationship with each player based on her as a whole person, not just her skills as an athlete. Continue reading “Building a Player’s Confidence”

Keeping It Fun

Keeping It Fun

It’s always the small things that my kids remember about why they loved playing a particular sport or on a particular team. I asked my middle daughter what made her sport teams’ experience fun, and she said it was being with friends. And cake. It really made her happy when birthdays were celebrated after practices or games (whatever was closest to the girl’s actual birthday), and the parent supplied cupcakes. It’s easy to lose sight that the reason why my child is doing this sport is that it’s fun and the minute it stops being fun, she will move on to something else.

Keeping It Fun

Keeping It Fun

Coaches are the first line of defense to make sure the sport is fun for the players. We as coaches are driving some of the pressure in sport. Kids are feeling the pressure … to be number one, and to be compared through measurements and stats.

We have to make sure that our athletes aren’t feeling the pressure to be number one, to get that scholarship, to have an undefeated season. That’s just too much pressure. Continue reading “Keeping It Fun”