One thing that I’ve learned through my coaching experiences is that a coach needs support from those around them to build a successful program. On the playing field, this support often comes from the coaching staff, but the game day experience or off the field support comes from parents like you. There are so many ways that parents can support their child’s athletic experiences other than just cheering them on. With all the negative stigma that surrounds the frantic parent, there is also so many amazing things that come from parents sacrificing their time for student athletes.
How Can Parents Become Involved with Youth Sports? The quick answer is get involved in booster clubs. Booster clubs are groups that are typically run by parents in the education system to support school athletics. Booster Clubs are great ways to help with fundraising and cost effective strategies for athletic programs.
Booster Clubs for Parents
Generally, booster clubs are geared towards high school athletics. As previously mentioned, one of the major benefits of booster clubs are helping athletic programs with funding needs.
Since educational funding for athletic programs has diminished over the years, booster clubs are a critical part of helping programs to earn the funds to support the program. This is typically done through sponsorship with local businesses, fundraising activities, support through individual tax credits, and more.
How to get involved in a booster club?
If you are unsure how to get connected with your child’s booster club there are two things that you can do. First you could search the school’s website for the booster club.
Most of the time the contact info for the club president or a general club contact will be provided. If you are unable to find this info through the school website, then ask your child’s coach.
The head coach is often closely connected with the booster clubs and also attends regular meetings. They should be able to steer you in the right direction.
How to start a booster club?
If your athletic program doesn’t have an established booster club, it’s time to get one started. Starting a booster club, is similar to starting a non-profit, so it will take some help.
It be a great idea to start by getting some parents together that are willing to be supportive in getting the club started. Here are some steps to consider:
- Create a mission statement
- Select a name, which is typically the “school name or mascot” booster club
- Establish a Board of Directors
- Complete the application process to become nonprofit through the state
- Draft the bylaws at your first meeting
- Apply for 501c3 tax exempt status with IRS and a EIN
What to expect when participating in a booster club?
A booster club tends to be set-up similar to a non-profit organization with positions like president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, through a voting board. It’s not designed to be a social hangout, but with an agenda to serve a purpose.
You may be asked to participate in coordination of various events or take part in supporting the game day atmosphere, depending on your availability. Meetings will be held periodically throughout the year.
It may be your responsibility to head up a fund raising event like a car wash or coordinating with local businesses to sell display banners. There is a myriad of opportunities to serve within the booster club.
Additional Ways Parents Can Be Involved
Boosters are a huge part of supporting your kids in high school athletics, but what about your younger kids or other ways to be supportive. It doesn’t always have to consist of being part of a club with fundraising. Here are some other possible ways to be connected:
There are many things going on during game day. Some youth sporting events run concession stands that are typically operated by parents or someone that collects admission fees. There are many things that go into the game day environment that parents can be a part of.
Food or Snacks
Depending on the age of your child or type of sport your child is participating in will determine whether we are talking a snack or a full out meal. For those that have kids participating in youth teams that travel or compete in day long tournaments, preparing a meal can be an awesome way to support the kids.
Whereas some kids may be playing in things like a recreational youth soccer league, where they just need some halftime or after game snacks. Again, it doesn’t have to be done alone.
Most parents are willing to contribute what they can if one of the parents wants to head the charge by getting sign-up sheets together or some ways to coordinate with parents on who is bringing what.
Social Media and Technology
Social media is a huge way to keep in touch with one another, market, or inform about youth sports. Things like building and maintaining a team website can be hugely beneficial to coaches and your kids. Websites are a great way to keep parents informed of practice/game schedules, fundraising events, pictures, and accomplishments.
Video and Photography
One thing I’ve always appreciated was some of the end of the year highlight videos that were provided to our coaches and players. These have been great memories to take from season to season that I’m sure players and families appreciate. Someone that can take video of games or opponent’s games can greatly help coaches with game preparation and scouting.
If you know much about the sport that your child is playing taking some stats can help the coaching staff with evaluations of in-game play. Things like monitoring parent sign-out sheets after games can be beneficial. Often times scoreboard operators or timekeepers are run by parent volunteers.
A lot of times the kids will bring their own water bottles, but for more competitive settings, having water ready for them in an organized fashion can streamline things for the coach. It can be very distracting during timeouts when the coach is trying to relay a message to the players, but everyone is scrambling around looking for water.
Helping with Clean-up/Set-up
There is always something to set-up whether it be chairs, cones, flags, goals, etc. Cleaning up any leftover trash after the event or helping with take down can be a way to contribute to those working with your children in sports.
As a father of four kids, I totally understand how crazy it can be to get your kids from one place to the next. It seems like we are always on the go for something. Setting up a carpool system with some of the other parents can take a lot of this pressure off.
I wrote a post on how to be a great parent volunteer coach. Many of the recreational leagues that your kids are involved in rely heavily on parent volunteer coaches for the leagues to operate. If you are willing to volunteer it helps to have a general idea of how to coach to create an amazing experience for the kids involved.
Obviously, you aren’t going to be a professional coach, but just having some basic knowledge of the sport and being able to create a positive environment will make all the difference. Not only are volunteers needed for recreational leagues, but also in some of the sports programs through schools.
Having a bit more knowledge of the sport or previous playing experience will help you to be a great volunteer coach in those types of settings. As a head coach, there is nothing better than having supportive coaches that you can trust.
Why Parents Should Be Involved in Youth Sports
Being part of the youth sports experience can have a positive effect on your children. It sets an example of the importance of serving. When your kids see you contributing to their cause without receiving compensation, they learn the importance of doing something good for others. This can have a lasting effect that will carry with them when they become parents.
Being involved shows them that you take interest in what they’re doing. When kids feel supported it helps build their self-esteem and feel confident in themselves. A healthy relationship that builds trust with your kids can develop when your kids see that you are there for them.
By taking an approach of being part of your kids sports experience, you don’t become that “out of control parent” that has become a stigma in youth sports. It takes some of the pressure off your kids when you are taking an approach of serving them. I wrote a post on the realities of performance anxiety in sports that you may want to check out.
To summarize, there are so many opportunities that parents can be actively involved in youth sports. If you are wanting to do a little more than just cheer your kids on from the sidelines, get involved in one or more of the opportunities mentioned throughout this post. Parents can have such a huge impact on making their kids sports experience epic.
Please comment below on anything that you’ve enjoyed from this post or your experiences working with your kids sports teams.