When assigning tasks for youth soccer tryouts it’s easy to focus on the obvious to-dos, like registration, running drills and evaluating players. But is anyone assigned to communicating with soccer parents? While the focus of tryouts should be on the kids, leagues can’t overlook the importance of keeping parents in the loop and making sure they are properly informed during the process.
Unfortunately, not all parents expect the same level of communication. Some might just want to be alerted to which team their son or daughter was placed on. Others might expect more frequent updates throughout the process, such as how their child is performing and what they can expect during the sessions. Setting up pre-planned communication with parents can make it easier on coaches and directors during tryouts.
Here are three tips for communicating with soccer parents to ensure smooth tryouts.
Send communication in advance of tryout dates
To get ahead of questions parents might have, teams can send communication to youth soccer parents in advance of the tryout sessions. This communication can include:
- Registration information
- Date and location of tryouts sessions
- List of what players should wear and bring to tryouts
- If available, what format the tryouts sessions will take and what skills players will be expected to perform
- Any information available on how many teams will be formed and how many kids will be placed on each squad
- Any key dates and events players will be expected to attend that might require planning, such as out-of-town tournaments and mandatory meetings.
While this early communication can help directors connect with all parents and ensure they all receive the same information, it will also help parents prepare their children for tryouts.
Listing the number of teams and the estimated number of players selected for each squad helps parents determine if there is a chance their child won’t make the team. Parents can then talk to their child in advance to make them aware there is a possibility they could be cut from the squad.
Listing the skills athletes will be asked to perform at tryouts provides kids the opportunity to practice those designated skills prior to evaluations. This can help ease some anxiety during the sessions.
According to Dr. Justin Anderson, a sports psychologist at Premier Sport Psychology, this written communication can act as a resource to point parents back to if they have questions during or after tryouts. This can be especially useful if there are cuts.
“Include potential resources or other leagues they can go to, or ways to improve,” Anderson said.
Anderson said leagues can include options to help kids cope with tryouts results, including sports psychology resources, or training options to improve for next season.
Address parents at tryouts sessions
After sending out an initial pre-tryouts communication, directors can address parents at the tryouts sessions. This allows the director to tell parents what exactly they can expect during the sessions, including who will be evaluating the players, how many kids are registered, and how many athletes will be on each roster. This will reiterate to parents if there will be cuts.
This is also the time when directors can inform parents if and when player evaluations will be made available. For teams that use evaluation software, individual player results can be available almost immediately after the tryout sessions.
Andrew Lenhardt, the Director of Coaching at Springfield (Ill.) Area Soccer Association (SASA), who uses TeamGenius evaluation software, says he informs parents at tryouts that player evaluation forms will be available at the conclusion of the session.
“I believe in transparency in the tryout process,” Lenhardt said.
He said this allows him to get in front of parents and let them know they can see the same scores the evaluators, coaches and directors are looking at, so all scores are transparent.
Share the tryout results
Following the tryout sessions, leagues need to determine how to communicate the final rosters to soccer parents. This can be done in a variety of ways, but to ensure there is open communication between parents and the league, results should be delivered via email or in-person.
Lenhardt says he prefers to send an email to parents. “I feel the best way to communicate results is an individual email to parents.”
He feels this allows the team to personally address each parent and communicate their child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. This also gives the director or coach the opportunity to tell the parent what each player can improve on for next year or throughout the season. This method also gives parents the chance to ask questions.
Anderson also recommends having one-on-one conversations with parents to explain their child’s results and team placement. If a parent is upset, this will give him or her the opportunity to voice his or her concerns.
While there is no set frequency of communications between youth soccer leagues and parents during the tryouts process, it’s important for leagues to determine what works best for them so they can get ahead of parent questions and concerns. We hope these tips help make communicating with soccer parents easier.