“Here’s an extra pair of soccer socks. Thanks for all your hard work.” Wow, gee-whiz. I don’t know what to say. Thank you, I guess. It’s a true story. I kid you not. I got an extra pair of socks for managing two different teams for my daughter’s competitive soccer club for an entire year – one team my daughter wasn’t even on.
Let me just say that you don’t become a team manager for the perks. And, you don’t volunteer because of the overwhelming, unconditional love you have for your child. NO! You volunteer to be the team manager aka team mom or team dad because you’re a Type-A personality who likes to plan, be organized and goes crazy nuts with ambiguous planning by coaches who already have too much on their plate.
For the past three years – I’ve taken on the role of team manager aka team mom, which I actually enjoy. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that I’m happy to share. My daughter plays competitive soccer, but these tips on how to be a good team mom or dad can apply to baseball, football, lacrosse, basketball and even ice hockey to name a few sports.
How to be a Good Team Mom
1. Be Organized. The first time you’re a team manager can be a bit overwhelming. I use two different apps that save me time and hair, because there were times before these apps that I wanted to pull my hair out. I use Shutterfly.com’s free sports team website for my son’s recreational soccer team and Team Snap which has a free site or more advanced paid features for my daughter’s competitive soccer team. Both are great organizational tools, depending on your needs. I will review each app in a future post. In the meantime, you can check them out and explore.
The Apps will allow you to:
- Create a roster with player names, parent names, phone numbers and email
- Post team practice times and game times (both send reminders)
- Set up a sign up sheet for snack schedules
- Set availability, where players can let the coach know if they are available for practice/games
2. Be a Great Communicator. TMI (Too much information) does not apply here. You are the buffer between the coach and the parents. You need to communicate with the coach on a regular basis, so that you can pass along relevant information to the players and their families. The coach doesn’t need to be bothered with a million questions about practice schedules, game times, uniforms, tournament details or snack duty – if applicable. If you’re organized and you use one of the apps mentioned above, you can send out an email to the entire team, text individuals, post schedules, send reminders, and have sign ups all in one place. People tend to embrace the known, and shy away from the unknown. Keep the communication lines open and watch the magic happen.
3. Encourage Team Bonding. All teams have their challenges, whether it’s a newly formed team, an established team with cliques, classic prima donnas, or dealing with a team bully. Players and sometimes parents need to be reminded that there is no “I” in team. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Team bonding is important! For the youngsters that could mean organizing a team dinner after practice one night. For older kids, a significant amount of team bonding takes place during tournaments and it’s absolutely priceless. See #4.
4. You are the Travel Agent. If you are traveling to a tournament, try to make sure everyone is staying at the same hotel. If it’s a stay-and-play tournament, make contact with the tournament director. They will often have a list of hotels near the fields which cater to organized club teams. They will often have the best rates as well. As the team administrator, you can call up these hotels and block out rooms for your group. Make sure it’s done early so you don’t have players staying at different hotels. Like I mentioned earlier, the bonding that takes place between the players, coaches and parents at travel tournaments is priceless. The kids eat together, hang out together between games and compete together. The parents, in our case, tend to demolish a case of wine. I’m not complaining about that one bit.
Here’s What I’ve done at Tournaments
- Organize a casual Friday night dinner for anyone arriving on a Friday night who wants to meet. We’ve gone to a brew pub or whatever you wish. Just remember its a Friday night and wherever you go will be crowded.
- Confirm with the hotel for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Some hotels will open their buffet early if they know in advance. You want to give the kids at least two hours to digest their meals and you want it to be a solid meal.
- Organize a mandatory team dinner for Saturday night. This can be at a restaurant or at the hotel if they will accommodate a large group at no extra charge. We’ve done both with our daughter’s team. I’ve made reservations for 40 plus people at the Old Spaghetti factory and I’ve also ordered from places like Bucadibeppo and brought in dinner. If you go with a restaurant see if they have a catering menu that includes dinner, drink (non alcoholic) and dessert for a set price. I try to keep the price to about $10-$12 per person.
5. Be Positive. Be Supportive. Learn every player’s name and introduce yourself to all the parents. Encourage all the players. Keep negative comments to yourself. Remind other parents to do the same. There will always be parent’s who just can’t keep their mouths shut. Stay away from them!
Disclaimer: I use shutterfly and Team Snap for both my kid’s teams. I am also an affiliate of both programs. If you like the programs and use them as a direct result of the links on this page, I will make a few cents, maybe even a few bucks if enough people like them as well.