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Welcome to the third and final part of our Parent Factor series, in which we explore why and how you should create a culture where parents, coaches, leadership and athletes are all on the same level.

So far in the series, we’ve discussed:

To end the series, we’re going to share advice for the steps you need to take in order to introduce and increase parent support at your club.

But first, let’s remind ourselves of the ways in which parents can support coaches.

How parents can help coaches build relationships with athletes

1. They can inform you of any external factors that may impact athlete performance

Parents are able to tell you about any changes in the athlete’s life outside of your club – for example, if they haven’t been feeling well, or if they are having a difficult time at school. These factors may cause a change in the athlete’s behaviour; negatively impacting on training and performance.

But by having a strong relationship with the parent, you can easily have conversations about any changes like this. You can then treat the athlete accordingly, without risk of causing more harm due to not knowing the full story or context.

2. They can help you to run club events

It is always beneficial to have extra help for events like open days. And this is certainly an area that parents are willing to assist. Whether that’s showing visitors around the club, selling tickets or programmes, and guiding people to their seat. They can also support with transport to and from events, which allows you to save on costs such as mini-van hire.

3. They can support with general club maintenance

As we discussed in part one of this series, parents are also great for helping out with general club maintenance. Remember, this is a group of people with skills and expertise that your club can benefit from, such as plumbers, electricians, and carpenters.

This not only saves you additional club costs, but can provide relatively long-term support solutions. It’s likely they’ll be willing to offer their services while their child is at your club. But after working with you for a while, and you’ve built a strong relationship, they may continue to help out for years later.

This doesn’t just apply to helping out with the general upkeep of your club; there are plenty of other club-related areas they’ll be able to support too. For example, writing newsletters, creating or implementing a social media plan, or even becoming board members.

4. They can provide coaching support if your club cannot be physically open

During any lockdowns or periods of time whereby your club cannot be open for physical training sessions, parents can provide coaching support.

They can be on-hand during virtual training sessions to make any corrections, or encourage athletes. This also helps boost the parents’ involvement in their child’s sport, and increases their engagement in your club as a whole.

So, now we know the ways in which parents can support our clubs, how can we go about asking for and organising extra parent help?

How can you introduce parent support successfully at your club?

There are a couple of key things to do if you’d like to increase the amount of parent support at your club:

1. List the areas that you need parent help

The first step is to create a list or spreadsheet to note all the areas where you would benefit from additional parent support. You can then prioritise this list in order of what support is most required, so that you know who you’d like to contact first.

2. Identify the skills and expertise available within your parent base

Unless you have a small club and know all parents well, it can be difficult to understand what support is available. One thing you can do here is canvassing; asking parents about their current or previous work, or what skills they have that you could benefit from. Once you’re aware of this, you then know who to approach for support. This type of information can be captured on your registration forms and if you have a club management system like LoveAdmin in place, you can easily screen your database for volunteers – even down to the detail of the skills they can bring to the club.

3. Ensure it’s a flexible arrangement

Remember, most of these parents have full-time jobs, and a variety of other responsibilities. So whilst they may be able to lend their expertise on occasion, you mustn’t rely too heavily on them. Nor should you make them feel as though they are tied in.

Think of tasks and responsibilities that could be conducted remotely, such as writing your newsletter. Being able to help the club out from home, without needing a physical time commitment, increases the chances of parents being able to offer their support.

4. Make sure the work isn’t all down to one person

Ensure you have a group of parent helpers – not just one individual. This helps make sure parents do not feel tied in; if they’re not able to help out one week, they know someone else can take their place.

In order to increase the chances of parents continuing their support for longer, they need to feel part of a community, rather than a solo helper. Keep that in mind when you are asking for support during events such as open days or competitions. Perhaps you could group a couple of parents together so that they’re building relationships?

5. Remember that they are part of your team

As we’ve mentioned, ideally these parents will help your club out for a long period – not just as a one off. In order to achieve this, bear in mind that the parents need to feel like an integral part of the team. Coaches and parents are not “them and us”; they need to work together.

Apply the techniques we discussed in part two of this series around building stronger relationships with parents. It’s quite common for parents to even become part of the coaching or leadership team at a club, so see this as an opportunity to build your team beyond just parent support.

Hopefully you found the advice in this series helpful, and now feel confident in building stronger relationships with the parents at your club. There are a multitude of benefits that come with increased parent involvement, and you should see that by following the above steps.

This article was based on a live video hosted by Alex Row, LoveGymnastics Community Ambassador. If you’re involved with a gymnastics or football club and are interested in watching similar videos in future, join our dedicated Facebook Communities:

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