Before I have a parent meeting, I like to hand out a parent letter to let the parents know about my coaching philosophy and plans for the season. I then take a few minutes at the parent meeting to discuss the contents of the letter and find out if there are any concerns. I feel this is the most important step I can take to avoid parent problems during the season. Below is a sample letter that I use as a template and modify year to year depending on age (this one was written for a 8-9 year old team). You're welcome to use and modify it for your own parent meeting. I've posted a Word document that you can download and modify, along the sample letter below.
I wanted to take this opportunity to put in writing my coaching philosophy and my goals for your child and the team this season. Youth baseball can be an exciting and fun opportunity for your child to learn new skills, make new friends, and have fun. As fun as it can be for your child, different expectations from the coach, parent(s), and player can take away from that positive experience in a number of ways. As you read through this letter please make sure that my philosophy fits with your expectations of what you want for your child and how you believe the team should be run. If not, this is your opportunity to let me know.
- I believe that kids gain confidence and a love for the game through positive feedback from parents, coaches, and other players. Skill level develops at different rates for kids, but effort and having fun can always be achieved. I try to always provide positive feedback for effort.
- I think it's important that a coach takes more than a casual interest in the players. I strive to talk with all the players 1 on 1 at some point during the practices and games. I may not be successful getting to every player each day, but I want them to know that I'm interested in what they have to say and more importantly, I want them to know that their coach likes him/her as a person.
- I believe in trying to make practices as fun and entertaining for the kids as possible, while providing the practice and instruction that they need to improve. I've found that kids expect and respond to well structured and organized practices. Attention span is often limited with this age group, so I will strive to keep them moving and active.
- Teamwork and developing friendships is an important part of any team sport. I always try to tell the kids how important it is for them to support each other and to always be positive towards their teammates.
- Competition is an important element of any sport and as kids grow they naturally become more competitive. I don't talk to the kids about "needing to win a game" or "how important it is that we win". I feel my role and that of the parents is helping the kids develop the ability to deal with competition in a healthy way. Effort and attitude is my focus. If we can achieve that, then chances are we'll win the number of games that we are capable of winning.
- I will work on teaching fundamentals and skills during practice, but I believe the game is their time. I will give instruction during the game if I feel it will help with their performance during the game, but in general I try let them enjoy the game. I don't think any of the kids want to be told what they did wrong during the game. I hope as parents you will do the same. At this age, one missed ground ball can ruin the game for some kids. If your child misses a ground ball, tell them how proud you were of the effort they made to get in front of it. Strive to make them feel good about their contribution. My goal is to have every child feel that they played a great game that day.
With this age group, I have 5 primary coaching objectives which I believe are equally important.
- Help your child develop the skills necessary to be successful at this level and to prepare your child for next season.
- To have fun and have the kids develop a love for the game.
- Learn about the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.
- Give positive reinforcement based on effort rather than results.
- Provide a safe and healthy environment for all the kids on the team.
Playing Time and Positions
For this age group there is a drastic difference in skill level among the kids. I want to give the kids an opportunity to play a number of different positions and I'll make sure each player gets a chance each game to play in the infield for a couple of innings. I will not have a player pitch or catch that I don't feel has the ability to play the position at this time. This really is a safety issue as much as anything. Plus, I want to puts kids in positions where I feel they have the best chance of being successful. That doesn't mean they won't have the ability by the end of the season and I will always work with the kids at those positions during practice if they are interested.
Team Rules and Discipline
We will have a few team rules that we will make at the first practice. Rules may be added during the season if necessary. I use a "penalty box" for the kids when they are not behaving or break a team rule. This takes the child away from the team and they are not allowed to participate in practice for a few minutes.
- Have fun and always give your best effort.
- I expect players to always show respect for the coaches, parents, and other players on the team.
- Spend time outside of practice playing baseball.
- Please try to get your child to practice and games on time. I know this can be difficult at times and impossible at other times, but it's really hard to conduct practice or get ready for a game when players continually show up late. If you know your child will be late or won't be able to make it to a practice or game, please let me know in advance if possible.
- Help out with team volunteer opportunities. We have a number of items that require parent help.
- Get involved in playing baseball with your child. This may be helping out with at practice or playing catch in the yard on days we don't practice. Kids love it when their parents get involved. Repetition is also crucial for skill improvement. There simply isn't enough organized practice time for the kids. They need to work on the skills they learn at practice at home also.
- Please encourage good sportsmanship by demonstrating positive support for all players, coaches, and officials at every game and practice. Please cheer for your child during games, but try to keep from yelling instructions to them. Remember this is their opportunity to enjoy playing in the game. Much of the fun is lost if their Mom or Dad is always yelling instructions.
- Please let me know if you have a problem with me or something that is happening. Same holds true if your child isn't happy about something. I want to know if there is a problem right away. With this age group, very small things can cause a child to be upset. These problems can be fixed very easily if I know about them.
- Safety is a primary concern for me. Unfortunately, I can't watch every child every second. If you see any situation that you believe is a safety concern, please step in and help. Make sure you follow up with me so I know what has happened.
I'm looking forward to a fun and rewarding season. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to call me.