When working in TEAM youth sports, the hardest thing to do is keep EVERYONE happy. After all, parents are paying for a service and are expecting to see their kids do well and get some playing time. If they don’t have a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE, people can leave with a negative impact and the club could potentially lose business and create a lasting impression. So how can you effectively manage teams and better connect with your parents and players?
Here are some tips:
1. Create Healthy Competition
- Use numbers to your advantage by creating healthy competition
- Players need to know that they are competing for playing time. There may be players who rarely leave the court, but everyone has their moments of weakness.
- At any time, a player could get injured and someone else must step up and fill that role.
2. Establish a Role for Every Player on the Team
- How to do this depends on the potential of the team. Some athletes may have the potential to play multiple positions, others may be more specialized.
- Use 2 Liberos: If one is struggling there is another option. I like to use my 3rd or 4th back row specialist for the 2nd libero, so my 2nd best can play backrow for another position and anytime we have a good lead I can flip liberos to allow the 2nd libero more playing time.
- Use a Serving Specialist: Most teams have a utility player that may not regularly play unless one of the starters is having a bad day. That player can be the serving specialist, and can mentally prepare to come in to the game to serve some tough balls.
3. Train 2 Setters
- The setter position is probably most crucial to a team’s success. Identify what kind of offense is best suited for your team, and try multiple before making the final decision. It’s nice to have options, teams may run different offenses depending on their competition.
- Refer to healthy competition, if you only have one setter they may not work as hard knowing they’re going to play no matter what.
4. Have Player/Coach Meetings
- Meet with your players at least once a month to talk about their individual progress/contribution to the team
- You can ask players to come prepared with 3 things they’re doing well and 3 things they want to focus on improving most in the next month.
- Be open and honest with your players, explain things from a coach’s perspective and mentor them to be a great teammate
5. Create a Grading System
- For the 12’s team that Coach James “Buzz” Busby and I have the pleasure of coaching, we use a system called “ACE”. “ACE” stands for “Attitude, Communication, Effort”. Players are graded each practice on these three things on a scale from 1-5. 1- poor, 2- needs improvement, 3- average, 4-good, 5-excellent.
6. Be a Great Communicator
- Communication is really the key to success, and the hardest thing to do. Be open to speaking to parents and appreciate the time/money they invest in their kids!