Up Front Communication with Parents of Young Athletes

How to Develop a Coaching Information Kit

If you coach young athletes, one of your major roles is to engage with the parents of the athletes that you coach. It is a role that cannot be ignored, side-stepped or trivialized.

To be fully effective, you should approach this role in an organised, comprehensive, professional and up-front manner.

One strategy that can be used to achieve this is to develop a “Coaching Information Kit”.

A CIK (Coaching Information Kit) is a document that aims to inform parents about all of the important aspects of your coaching operation. To be most effective, it should be provided to a parent on their initial enquiry about your coaching.

The Benefits

The process of developing and using a CIK has a number of benefits:

1. It forces you to get organised

The process of developing a CIK is as important as the product. It makes you think extensively about how you want your coaching to operate and what details you will provide to enquiring parents. Having all of the information in writing means that each parent receives the same information and there is less chance of you forgetting to communicate some of the details.

2. It lays everything out on the table

Providing a parent with a CIK before even beginning the coaching process allows them to get a feeling about whether or not you are the right coach for their child. After reading the information, the parent may decide that your coaching does not suit their needs, and the enquiry may go no further. This saves a lot of time – yours and theirs! Alternatively, this approach will logically attract people compatible to your philosophies and coaching style. Essentially, a CIK acts as an early “filter”.

Being up-front also helps to prevent later misunderstandings about such things as procedures and conduct. Everything is spelt out clearly in writing to all relevant parties.

3. It conveys a professional image

Being able to provide parents with a CIK conveys to them that you are organised, put time into your coaching and take doing a good job seriously. As it inherently places some responsibility on the parents, it tends to turn away those people who are looking for a quick and easy “baby-sitting” service.

4. It makes coaching more satisfying and enjoyable

Many coaches grumble about things such athletes being absent from training without notice; athletes turning up intermittently, parents putting their children through extra training outside of the coach’s program; finding that their athlete is also attending another coach’s training. These coaches shouldn’t grumble; it is often their fault that they have not properly or clearly communicated their expectations! Many parents unknowingly cause frustration for a coach by not following accepted etiquette or procedures that a coach figures that they “should know”. It is not good enough to expect people to know how to act in a coach/athlete/parent relationship – it may be their first one! Avoid all of the potential problems by taking a few proactive steps and set the boundaries right from the start. It will make your job a lot easier and much more enjoyable.

Developing a Coaching Information Kit

Below are some pieces of information that you will want to consider including in your CIK:

1. Your Coaching Mission Statement

Your coaching mission statement is your formal statement of purpose as a coach. It focuses on what you want to be and what you want to do as a coach. It is the key criterion by which everything that you do with your coaching is evaluated.

You can see the value of giving such information to the parents of athletes that you may potentially coach. Presenting parents with your coaching mission statement is vital in communicating your approach to coaching.

2. Coaching Background

Include here all of your coaching qualifications and experiences. It is nice for parents to know who you are and what you have done.

3. Coaching Philosophy

Some people use “philosophy” and “mission statement” interchangeably, however I believe that while your coaching philosophies should reflect your mission statement, there are subtle but important differences. Your coaching philosophies are principles or beliefs that make up how you actually coach. E.g. “All young athletes should avoid early specialisation”.

4. Athlete Training Progression

This provides parents with some idea about how you plan to progress a young athlete as they advance through the age groups. It provides information about what they will be doing at each age and how it fits into the overall picture. It is very important to provide parents with a “big picture” and encourage them to look long term.

5. Organisation and Other Information

This is the nuts and bolts of your coaching. Ideas to include here include:

  • How athletes join your sessions
  • Maximum numbers per session/training group
  • When, where, what time and for how long you train
  • What athletes should bring with them to training
  • What a parent should do if an athlete cannot attend or is sick or injured
  • What happens in very hot or wet weather
  • Expected athlete conduct and behaviour
  • How/where to direct enquiries

6. Coach/Athlete/Parent Etiquette

Discuss here:

  • Procedures for changing coaches
  • Procedures for ceasing training with a coach
  • Working with other coaches/more than one coach at time
  • Undertaking additional training sessions outside of your program

7. Coaching Fees

  • Do you charge a fee?
  • If so, how much?
  • How is it to be paid?
  • What do they get for their money?

8. Contact Details

Include relevant phone numbers, email address, etc.

Up-front communication – an early setting of the boundaries – through the use of a coaching information kit, can avoid many problems often associated with coaching and can help lead to a satisfying, enjoyable coaching experience.

This article has been updated and adapted from an article by the author that first appeared in “Modern Athlete and Coach”, Volume 40, No. 4, October 2002

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin , Anchor or via email.

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