This is a quick guideline that you can use when planning your first team meeting. This first team meeting is the beginning of what your season is going to be about. This is where you establish the culture on and off the field and your goals for the season. I believe that athletes thrive when they are a part of this process. Allow them to assist you in making these decisions before they are finalized.
First Team Meeting Ideas:
- how many tournaments do you plan to attend?
- how much travel will the team do?
- fill out registration forms if it has not already been done
- contact sheet confirmations
- emergency contact
- practice days and times
- team rules and procedures
- player commitment levels
- equipment and uniform decisions
- review the league schedule
- team events
- who is going to help with what during the season
- score keeping
- team contact needs
- parent liaison
There are likely other things that you want to add to this list as every team has different needs and goals.
Setting the Tone
This is also where you set the rules and regulations for the team with the parents and players. It is critical that you as the coach initially set the code of conduct on and off the field for players and for parents. I personally required that no player or coach was ever to display unsportsmanlike conduct while at the field and to respect the umpires regardless of what happened during or after a play. This is where athletes are learning how to conduct themselves in situations that they may not agree with. I never tolerated any display of aggression towards officials because without them we do not have a game.
You may find though that regardless of the time spent on sharing your philosophy and guidelines, you might need to remind parents periodically during the season. Make sure that you let parents know you have a plan, and that if they have any concerns, let them know you are interested in speaking with them and they should speak to you at at an appropriate time.
If you arrive at the meeting with a detailed plan of how you will be moving through the meeting as well as guiding the team through the season, you will be more likely to gain their confidence. You will however need to keep that confidence by staying on top of your plan. It is not uncommon for coaches to have a great plan and then deviate from the plan as the season progresses. The best motto to go by is to underpromise and overdeliver. If you do not promise too many things for the team, the expectations are less likely to exceed the potential for the team by the end of the season.
Let the parents know what your procedure is for contacting you about issues with their player. This will prevent distractions prior to games for example where a heated discussion can affect your emotions which I guarantee you will affect the emotions of your players. A 24 hour rule is good if parents need to discuss something that happened they are upset about to give them time to process the event. You may have set times for parents to contact you. Be sure that your players also know that they can talk to you about their progress and where they fit on the team.
You may also want to distinguish between parent and player reasons to talk to you. If a parent wants to talk to you about playing time for example, is that a parent or a player issue. You may want to have the player present or ask if the player would like to talk to you first. It is also a good idea for you to have someone else present when a player talks to you so that you can be sure you understand the situation and so that you can document the conversation in the event of any confusion about what you talked about.
Provide Written Material
At the end of the team meeting, hand out a copy of what you discussed as far as your philosophy and guidelines for the team that are not negotiable. This will be a reminder for them. Send an email after as well recapping the meeting so that everyone has something to refer to if there is confusion or doubt. A reminder, never send anything in an email that you would not want forwarded or that you could not say in person.
This will not guarantee you a smooth season, but it will definitely give you a head start. That is all we need to keep the wheels rolling and will contribute to a successful season, which regardless of what you may witness, everyone wants at the end of the day.