Coaches should communicate effectively with both players and their parents.
When most youth coaches think of preseason preparation, they envision grueling conditioning, long stretching sessions, creative new plays and strategies, understanding team dynamics, and attending league meetings. One topic that belongs on that list is what I call a "parents meeting."
Each sports season, I organize a parents meeting before we step on the field. I make this meeting a requirement and ask that at least one parent from each family attend. During the meeting, I lay out my goals and expectations for the season and explain to parents how I run my practices. I always leave a fair amount of time for a question-and-answer period. In anticipation of the parents' meeting, I print a handout of approximately three to four pages, which lists all of the members of the team and coaching staff, each player and coach's phone number, a brief list of my coaching philosophies, and some organizational items.
People might say, "Well this is only youth sports. It's not high school." This is true, but I have learned over the years that a parents meeting will make for a better run season for the kids, the parents and the coaches.
One of the key topics I cover during a parents meeting is how I expect players to arrive at least 45 minutes before the start of a game. It's important to set this expectation early and also to explain that you are especially appreciative to parents who have very busy schedules either with other children or with regards to competing priorities (karate, music lessons, school work, car pools, etc).
I also like to address what is most important for the parents. In youth football, playing time is an issue and an explanation from the coach should be covered. Many football leagues will have their own playing time requirements and if yours does, explain the policy to the parents.
In soccer, playing time as well as position play are two of the biggest concerns to parents. In recreational soccer, playing time is usually dictated by the league policy. If you are coaching in one of the more competitive travel soccer teams, you must detail your philosophy and tell the parents outright that some players will be playing more than others. As far as position play, you can let parents know that you will try to be a little flexible but cannot guarantee anything.