Another important point I like to cover is that because of my own busy schedule, I cannot run a taxi service for any players. Parents must be at practice five minutes before it ends. When I first began to coach, I never addressed this and after each practice I had a car full of players to drop off. As coaches, this cannot be part of our jobs for more reasons than one.
I also explain that I'm willing to address any complaints parents might have during the season under one condition. I developed a standard policy of not taking any complaints for at least two games. This cuts down on a lot of phone calls and most of the times a complaint by a parent about playing time is taken care of by the third game.
Since I instituted this policy, I have had only a handful of complaints (and that covers the last 18 years!). It's a long way from when I first started coaching and I would go home to be greeted by two or three messages on my answering machine.
As a coach, there are a lot of responsibilities and I try to cut down on the phone calls as much as possible. One system a lot of people use is the phone chain. This is effective only some of the time. Another system I use which is similar is the buddy system.
At the beginning of each year I ask for a couple of parent volunteers to help with the phone calls. Then I assign each player a buddy. So if there are 20 kids on the team, there are 10 pairs of buddies. The first thing I tell them is that if there is any question on practice time or location, call their buddy before they call me. And if their buddy isn't home, call someone else on the team list. And make sure you utilize emails but do not count on them alone.
If it is raining, I call my two phone volunteers and divide the calls in half. Remember, each player has a buddy so they should never make more than five calls and maybe a call back to me. Any system you try isn't fool proof and during the course of the season, you can expect your share of calls.
Getting players to practice on time is a key to any youth sports team. In soccer, try giving the players numbers as they come and No. 1 will be the first player in all shooting drills. In football, the first three players to arrive at practice will be team captains for that particular practice, will lead the team in warm ups and get a star on their helmet. Explain this at the parents meeting and I guarantee they will make an effort to get their kids to practice on time.
Once I began running parents meetings, I found that complaints were cut down at least 50 percent. Remember, you are volunteering your time and you have a right to make the season run as smooth as possible for yourself, and that's the way you want it to be for your team as well.
Marty Schupak, President of the Youth Sports Club, has coached youth sports for 21 years and has run more than 1,500 youth sports practices. He is the creator of 22 sports instructional videos including the best selling "Championship Soccer Drills" and "The 59 Minute Baseball Practice." He is also author of the popular book, "Youth Baseball Drills." For samples of his videos, go to VideosForCoaches.com. Contact him at YouthSportsClub@aol.com.