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Recruiting Parent Support

Almost every team can always use parents to volunteer as assistant coaches or to support the team in other ways.

Use the parent meeting to recruit volunteers.

Gilbert Lopez uses the parent meeting to ask for all the help he can get. Even if he already has three or four coaches, he always tries to get all the parents involved as much as possible.

Coaching isn't the only place that Gilbert asks for help. He also asks for volunteers to take responsibility for organizing the team snacks to be distributed after the game, announcing the game, keeping score, and helping get kids ready for their at bats. If a parent is not able to help at practices or games, Gilbert asks them if they can organize an outing for the team, an end-of-season party, or whatever else the parent would like to do.

Give parents a specific supporting role for their player.

Jon Brainard gets his team's parents involved in a very creative way. At the beginning of the year, he creates a goals sheet for every player on his team. Jon creates a list of up to ten goals for each player such as "participate in making an out on defense," "get a hit," "get a double," "hit a fly ball," and so on. He tries to make the goals attainable for everyone, listing things that he as a coach can control (like getting a player to steal at least once during the season). Then Jon gives each child's sheet to his or her parent at the first team meeting and charges the parents with keeping track of the goals for their child.

This gets all the parents involved, and most of the parents willingly participate in the activity. Jon has also seen parents send an older brother or sister to keep track of a player's goals when the parent couldn't make a game.

"I've had kids that make a play on the field and then shout back to the stands to their parents," Did you get that?" They like to make sure that their goals are being recorded!"

As incentive to reach the goals, Jon makes tokens on his computer (you can also buy stickers)and he awards the tokens for goal achievement to players at several points in the season. The tokens can be traded in for quarters (provided by the coach) to use in the arcade at the local pizza parlor.

Use the league volunteer recruiting process.

Bob Karol says that his league also solicits parent volunteers at the league level to coordinate the Opening Day Parade, the Closing Day Picnic, securing team sponsorships, and so on.

"Our attitude is always anybody who wants to coach, let them coach. Especially in a situation where there are lots of parents who may travel for business and can't get to every game, it helps to have backup coaches and other assistants."

Promote consistency in volunteer style and philosophy.

Lloyd Rue cautions, however, that volunteer coaches should have a little consistency in style and philosophy. Lloyd suggests the following:

"If parents are going to help, I want them to start helping at the beginning of the season. One time I had a parent who came in to help in the middle of the season and he had some very different coaching philosophies from me. He volunteered as a coach for just a few games and then he left. That created a real problem. So, I prefer to do my parent volunteer recruiting at the beginning of the season."

Checklist for Organizing Your Team

Pre-season organization is a critical element of a solid start to any season. Therefore, we've provided you with a summary checklist of tips recommended by our hometown hero coaches (as well as a few we added ourselves!)

Learning to Coach Baseball

Read, observe, and search the Internet for good coaching tips.

Tap into the training resources offered through your league.

Communicating With Parents

Hold a pre-season parent meeting.At that meeting:

Put important information in writing.

Recruiting Parent Support

Give parents a specific supporting role for their player.
Use the league volunteer recruiting process.
Promote consistency in volunteer style and philosophy.

Before the First Practice

Check out your team's equipment (usually provided by the league)to make sure it's complete and in good shape so it can be used safely and effectively in your practices and games.
Check out the practice field you've been assigned and make sure you communicate driving directions to that field to all your team's parents. When you give directions, use the proper name of the school or park where you will practice, not the league "nickname" for that field.. Otherwise, some parents will be confused, especially those who are new to the league.
Set up an email list for your team so you can quickly and efficiently distribute information like directions to fields or changes in the practice schedule.

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