Preparing for your First Parent Meeting

By Marnie Sisson, preparation is everything (@MarnieSisson1)

You have raised your hand to coach hockey this season and discovered that it is much more than running on-ice practices.  To start the year off right, it is all about setting expectations from the beginning of the year and effectively communicating with your team and parents throughout the season.

Here are a few tips to run an effective first parent meeting.

Preperation Leads to Success

Season Planning

By now you will have identified and met with your coaching staff and team manager to get on the same page & plan your team’s season.  The pre-season planning will directly tie into your key messages at the parent meeting.  If you have not done this yet, use the Season Planning Sheet to help walk you through your season requirements.

Welcome Players

Leading up to the first practice, players are full of anticipation and nerves.  Help create a positive first experience by sending your team a welcome message introducing yourself.  Here is a Welcome Message template to get you started.  Take this opportunity to learn a little bit about your team prior to meeting them at your first practice.  The Getting to Know You & Your Athlete is a great way to understand what the players season expectations are and it can be used as input into your team planning.

Prepare for First Parent Meeting

Now it is time to put your thoughts together on what you want to cover at your First Parent Meeting.  Many of the items to review at the meeting you will have planned with your coaching staff.  Use the First Parent Meeting Speaking Notes template to help record the key information you want to communicate to your team’s parents. 

The following are some common messages around:

  • Your coaching philosophy. Every parent wants to know that their kid is in good, responsible hands. Your coaching philosophy will let the parents know something about who you are and also what your intended direction is for the team.  This can be something as simple as “work hard and have fun”. 
  • Desired team environment. Your focus is to provide a positive and inspiring learning environment for our young athletes.  You will be create this through positive and encouraging mentorship while also being a challenging, yet fair coach in their lives.
  • Safety.  Parents will want to ensure their kids will have a safe but fun experience.  Let them know when the kids are at the rink, you will be carefully watching them.
  • Player conduct.  Your player expectations include working hard, giving their best, focus on improving skills, being selfless and quick to help others on the team, respecting officials at all times and most importantly to have fun.  Thoroughly go over what behaviour you expect from the kids, both on the ice and in the dressing room.
  • Parent expectations for their child.  Ask your parents to take the time to understand their child’s personal sport’s goals and how they can support their development both at the rink and away from it.  
  • Parent Conduct. Remind parents about the importance of mirroring great sportsmanship both on and off the ice.  Tempers may sometimes run hot, however it is essential that parents always respect coaches, other parents and referees. Reinforce respect for the opposition and other parents in the stands. Young athletes are always looking to the adults as role models for what’s acceptable, whether consciously or not.
  • Discipline. Let parents clearly know when disciplinary action is necessary. If a player is being sat out or benched, the parents deserve to know why early. Discuss any guidelines your association follows for both discipline and complaints.

Positive First Experience

The parent meeting is a key opportunity to illustrate your leadership abilities as the team’s head coach.  Now that you have spent the time thinking through your season and getting to know your players prior to meeting them, it is now time to connect with them on a personal level.

Introducing yourself to each family and player as they arrive into the locker room will go a long way to creating trust and ensuring the atmosphere is fun and light.

When the meeting with the parents is scheduled, organize for the players to be with an assistant coach or volunteer on the ice during the actual meeting.  Our goal is to create a private, parent only assembly.

Use your First Parent Meeting Speaking Notes to help keep you on track and ensure you cover all the key points.  Involve your coaching crew in delivering some of the key messages. Give opportunity for your parents to ask questions and gain clarity.

If there are specific player items to review, have the players join after you have wrapped up the parent portion.

Off To A Great Season

This meeting is designed to create a strong team atmosphere where the players and parents feel safe and excited to play this season.  If done right, expectations will be managed and your season will remain focused on the team having fun.

Invite your Team

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