I have always loved the FAMILY aspect that a great football program brings to its players.
If you are going to stay true to your word of being a football family, then you will need to ensure you are welcoming the families of your players into your program, especially in this day and age.
A successful program needs everyone moving in the same direction. Players must buy-in and have a clear understanding of the expectations. This buy-in will always be easier when you have the support of their parents.
This article will focus on 3 ways to involve families while at the same time establishing boundaries and roles for the players’ parents so that the program can run smoothly.
1. Mandatory Parent and Player Information Evening
We begin each new football year with a parent and player meeting in the school auditorium.
Whether it’s a player’s first year in the program or their fourth year, we have all the parents and players attend. I believe this meeting really sets the tone for ensuring we are all on the same page.
We review our mission statement, vision for the program, and core values. It’s also a great time to introduce the coaching staff, discuss the role of our coaches, athletes, and parents in addition to reviewing our yearly calendar with important dates.
When parents understand how our program operates, what the expectations are, and know the practice and game schedules it’s much easier for them to support what we are doing.
2. Set the Proper Expectations for Meetings With Parents
During our Parent Meeting we discuss with our parents that we are trying to develop great relationships with our players and teach them how to be accountable and communicate on their own.
Our coaches communicate with our players on a daily basis. Sometimes we need to have a meeting with a specific player and parent when expectations are not being met or we have behavior issues.
It’s very important that you establish clear guidelines with the parents as to reasons for meetings. Here are a few examples:
1. Physical & emotional treatment
2. Ways to help improve
3. Behavior or academic concerns
We also let the parents know we don’t meet to discuss the following:
1. Playing time
2. Strategy and play calling
3. Other athletes (unless related to inappropriate behavior towards their child)
Meetings are generally held with the Position Coach, Head Coach, parent(s), player and possibly the Athletic Director.
This usually keeps the focus on the problem and provides an opportunity for a team effort to come up with a solution.
I also communicate to the parents that if we do need to meet, a meeting will always be scheduled.
Our staff are usually busy after practice in coaches’ meetings or are released to go home to their own families, so we make sure we schedule any coach and parent meetings ahead of time.
3. Communicate All Opportunities for the Parents to get Involved
Football Booster Club
Running a successful program requires a strong group behind the scenes. One of the best ways for parents to get involved is to join our Football Booster Club to raise money and run events.
Over the years, our Football Boosters have run golf tournaments, wine tasting events for parents, held a casino night, operated the snack bar, hosted weekly pre-game meals, and put on our year end banquet. There are opportunities for parents to get very involved as board members, serve as directors or assist with various events.
Each season prior to our scrimmage against an opponent we have a Family Barbecue in conjunction with our intra-squad scrimmage. This is a great opportunity to bring everyone in the program together in a relaxed setting.
Mom’s Football Clinic
In the spring towards the end of our Spring practices we have held a Football Clinic specifically for the moms. We make sure it’s a fun and interactive event. We include door prizes and have snacks available as well.
Each coach gives a short presentation of what skills are involved with his position group. We also review some X’s & O’s and basic rules.
I have even had an equipment rep give a presentation on the pieces of equipment that help to keep players safe.
Recruiting Information Meeting
This evening is open to any player in our program that is looking to play beyond high school.
We do a presentation on what is required both on the field and in the classroom to qualify and hopefully be recruited. This is a great workshop and shows the parents that we want to help get their sons to the next level but even more important puts us on the same page with ensuring their son works hard in the classroom.
Helmet Decal Ceremony
Prior to our first regular season game we invite the parents to a special night. This event is usually held after a Wednesday practice.
The parents are involved in assisting their son in decorating their helmets with our decals. I usually use this event as an opportunity to discuss the relationship between success and support.
We remind the players in order for them to be successful they will need the support from their parents. They will need their parents to get them to practice at times, help keep them nourished and even have a shoulder to lean on when faced with challenges.
These are a few examples of ways to include the parents in your program.
I have seen programs do incredible events to build a strong family atmosphere. When your program keeps the parents informed, offers ways to get them involved and work them into the program it creates a great overall environment.
I encourage you to create opportunities where families can share the high school football experience together.
This article was originally published in Headsets: Volume 1, Issue 2.