Here’s to the best parents in sport.

Written by Natalie Doyle

January 26, 2022

A dad walking with his daughter, who is in football kit and holding a football

Parents in sport sometimes get a bad reputation.  Sometimes justifiably, sometimes unfairly.  If you’re a club your network of parents can be one of your strongest assets if you utilise them properly.  In this month’s blog post, we look at how clubs can work effectively with parents and, if you’re a parent yourself, how you can best work with the clubs your children are involved with.

So let’s start with if you’re a club.  In a previous blog, we spoke about how you can utilise parents as volunteers, but there are also a number of other benefits for working closely with parents:

1. They will be your advocates in the local community

2. They may help you attract potential sponsorship through their own businesses or their employers

3. A strong relationship between club and parents will make the experience of the children more enjoyable

4. If they feel part of your club they are more likely to engage in other aspects of the club such as fundraising, social events, and promoting the club

So how do you build these relationships?  Here are some tips to think about:

1. Hold a parents evening at least once a season.  Hold one at the start of the season to welcome parents, explain the ethos of the club, what your expectations are and answer any questions they may have.  It’s also a great idea to hold one partway through the season to see how things are going, address any concerns and ensure they continue to feel part of the club.

2. Get to know them.  I know that on a match day or training night it can feel like you already have a million and one jobs to do, but try and take the time to get to know the parents of your players. Chat to them, ask for their opinions and ideas, and get them involved if you can.

3. Communicate.  Communication is such a crucial part of building effective relationships. This will look different from club to club but make sure you are communicating effectively with parents.  This could be via a WhatsApp group, email, Facebook group, or whichever channel works best for you. Make sure they know arrangements for match days, tell them promptly if a match is called off.  Nothing frustrates parents more than ineffective communication!

Ok so what about the flip side of the coin? If you’re a parent, how do you best support the clubs that your children attend?  It’s top tips time again!

1. Volunteer. This doesn’t mean you need to sign yourself up for two nights a week coaching one of the teams. Look at your skills and your availability and put yourself forward for something that works for both you and the club. Any offer will be greatly appreciated.

2. Let the coaches coach. There is a parent at my son’s swimming lesson that shouts instructions to his son constantly throughout the lesson. The boy is constantly distracted by this and often misses instructions from the instructor. Don’t be that person! If you want to coach then volunteer. If you don’t then be supportive but try not to confuse your child with too many voices at once.

3. Communicate. This is just as important for parents as it is for clubs. If you have a concern or a question, raise it with the club. Don’t just complain about it to other parents. Open communication needs to work both ways so don’t be afraid to start these conversations.

Hopefully, that is helpful, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on. I have seen some fantastic examples of clubs and parents working together. Hopefully, you’ll see the same thing at your club.

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