With the holidays, Scouts and work, I have not had the time I wanted to work on the Fll Starting Point book. Today marked a big milestone, I finished the Season Management Section except for Chapter 1, which I am saving for last. Below is section for Team Management.
Getting Parents Involved
Parent involvement is a key component of team management. As a coach, you will be busy and need parents to take on roles. The challenge is getting parents to get involved, people don’t feel comfortable or that they do not have the time. Every parent has a contribution, you just have to help them find it. You will find if you pass around a signup sheet, most people will not sign up. To get parents active with the team, we leverage parent emotions and a volunteer ranking approach.
For the emotional pitch, I use a technique I learned as a Cub Scout leader, the Life Rope. The purpose of the Life Rope is to emphasis how little time we have to influence our child’s values. I don’t know the source, it has been passed down by volunteers and no source is listed.
I would recommend separating the parents and youth, give the youth a core values activity that will take about 10 minutes. I would recommend the Marshmallow Challenge, http://marshmallowchallenge.com. They can work on the challenge while you talk to the parents. If you have a co-coach, they can work with the youth while you talk to the parents. To start, you will need the following supplies
- String/rope 80 to 100 inches long, mark it at 10 inches, 13 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 25 inches, 30 inches, 33 inches and 43 inches.
- Core Values Activity for the team
Prepare ahead a time, don’t read this in front of the group. Tell it as story in your own words. Make it your own.
Have two parents hold the rope, stretching it so the entire audience can see the rope. Face the audience from behind the rope. Explain to the parents, this rope represents your child’s life, every inch represents one year. Using your finger, indicate this is when they were born. Then move your fingers down the rope to indicate life milestones, like first laugh, first day of school. Help them visualize their child’s past. When you get to age of the group mark, pause and indicate right now they are about 10 years old (use your team’s age). In just a couple years, they will be a teenager. (Show 13 mark) Soon they will be driving (show 16 mark). A little bit later, they will be 18 (18 mark). Here, they will be old enough to drink (21 inch mark). When they are 25 they are beginning their career or maybe they graduate school (25 inch mark). Let say they get married at 30. (Show 30 mark) and in a few years later they have children. Congratulations, you are grandparents (show 33 mark). He is where your grandchild is 10. (Show 43 mark). Your child is now sitting where you are, trying to raise their child the best they can.
Next, use your right hand to indicate this is where your child is now in life. Without moving your right hand, use your left hand to indicate when high school starts, the red area picture above.
Now you pick up their emotions and squeeze because at this moment, they are realizing their kids are growing up fast and that in a few years, their kids are adults. When I first saw this, it choked me up. It still does. To the parents, use your own words and say something like:
This is it, this is the time you have left to influence your child’s value system. In a few years, they will look to their friends and your opinion will not be as important. Even through your child has their whole life in front of them, you only have a few more years to build their character foundation.
FLL gives you an opportunity to create memories your child will never forget. I am going to pass out volunteer sheets around and ask that you to rank your volunteer preferences. Your child would love the fact you helped their team. You are not signing up, you are just indicating where you feel comfortable helping the team. I will then compile the sheets and find a role for you that fits your schedule and comfort area. Imagine how excited your child will be when they find out you are helping their team. Even if you just sign-up to coordinate tournament snacks, you child will be excited. Think of the example you are setting by helping their team.
The next step is to having parents rank their volunteer preferences using the following Volunteer Preferences Worksheet (A Microsoft Word version is available under Resources at www.fllstartingpoint.com). Make sure both parents/guardians get a copy. Highlight the fact no one is signing up or making a commitment, they are just indicating their preferences. This approach is very effective and works better than asking people to sign-up. It also allows you to cover all the team needs. Once you compile the result and assign roles, contact the parent directly. Do not do a group email, they are easy to ignore. Make it personal.