The One Thing You Must DO to Start the Season.

If you do this one thing, your season will run more smoothly, you will have better communication and less unnecessary misunderstandings. You will never be able to eliminate all problems, but this one thing will help get rid of many issues.

And that is . . . have a parent meeting.

The key points to be covered at the parent meeting are:

1. Best ways to communicate. So how do you like the parents and swimmers to communicate with you? Email, text, phone, . . . It is also important to find out how your team parents can be best reached.

2. Other communication expectations should be covered too. Things like do you want a response if you send out an email or text? When will you respond back to a parent? 24hrs, 12 hrs? What is reasonable to send in an email? Sometimes parents will blast you on email. I suggest letting the parents know you will not accept that type of communication and you will not respond. Instead you will set-up a meeting with the parent, coach and executive member.

3. What are you coaching expectations and/or coaching philosophy? Be clear from the start so everyone knows what is expected of them. Making up the rules as you go along is a recipe for disaster.

4. What are the selection criteria for teams and extra routines? Definitely print this off and hand it out. Be very clear and upfront with everyone involved in what the process entails.

5. If you have alternates go over what the alternate’s role is in practice and at competition. WIll they ever get to compete? Is there a rotation at practice? What happens if they miss their rotation day due to illness . . . Think about as much as you can and cover it with everyone.

Write out an agenda ahead of time and prepare for your meeting. This is not the type of meeting to wing. Print off the most important points like team selection, alternate information, and your expectations. This simple act will help you later in the year when the stress starts to mount. Also consider having a board member at the meeting to support you and be a witness in later months if something does arise. I highly recommend young and new coaches bring a board member with them. Even ask an experienced coach for help. Always pick a board member that is not a team parent if possible.

I know this may seem a bit over the top, but I can tell you from experience the more details you can give the swimmers and parents the less conflict you will have to deal with later on. If you want to focus on the parts of coaching you love run a great parent meeting at the start of the season. You may consider having check in meetings throughout the year.

Be proactive and deal with the issues before they happen.

What are other topics you like to cover in your parent meetings?  Please share below in the comment box or on my Facebook page.

Yours in Synchro,

Vanessa Keenan

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