The Parents Meeting:
Dealing with parents effectively and professionally is an invaluable skill for all coaches, regardless of experience. Before tryouts, hold an open meeting for any interested cheerleaders and their parents. Make sure you hold the meeting at a convenient time, such as in the evening, when working parents can attend.
The parents meeting should be the first of many contacts the team has with parents throughout the year. Stay in contact with parents throughout the season via newsletters, calendars, and meetings. Communication with parents is important; they will appreciate your including their input, and in turn you will benefit from their support.
On the Parents Meeting Agenda
Ast athletes and parents come in, have them fill out a tryout form with the athlete’s basic information (name and address; previous dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading experience) as well as a medical form and waiver. Introduce yourself and any other coaches or advisors or cheerleaders and summarize your qualifications. State your goals for the team and what you hope to accomplish. Also cover these important points:
* Practice schedule and team commitments for the year
* Projected costs (uniforms, travel, and other expenses)
* Team Constitution, which should include this information:
1. Team purpose
2. Team structure (co-ed and competitive, for example)
3. Team rules and regulations (tryouts, practices, games, attendance, travel)
4. Consequenes (penalties for absences, late arrivals, other)
5. Physical qualifications for participants (skills, attitude, other)
6. Team captains (selection process, responsiblities)
At the end of the meeting, ask for input and questions from parents and cheerleaders, mention tryout dates, and thank them for coming.
There are hundreds of thousands of awesome cheerleader-parents out there-the ones who book gym time for you or hand-make thirty beautiful bows. Unfortunately, there are also difficult ones, includeing some parents who force cheerleading on their children. They’ll saunter into practice unannounced, insist on making suggestions to the coaches (“Well, when I was a cheerleader, we always used to…”) and may drive you crazy with their obsessive cheerleader-parent behavior
(“Why isn’t my daughter/son in the front?!”).
As a coach, the best thing you can do is understand that these parents just want the best for their children. Listen to what their underlying message is, rather than their actual words. Remember that, as a qualified coach, you don’t have to explain yourself, but do give those who ask fair questions the courtesy of answers. Firmly but congenially (remember, you want parents on your side!) reiterate that you are qualified and have been designated to make decisions for the team. Stand your ground and don’t let difficult parents intimidate you. They will respect you for your confidence and dedication to the program.