The Parent Meeting – Setting Expectations

The pre-season parenting meeting is your big chance to set the tone for the entire season.  It is an easy and efficient way to let the parents know who you are, what you have planned for the season, and what you expect from them and their children during the coming months.  In his book Sport Club Management, Matthew J. Robinson explains the importance of having a shared understanding between coaches and parents, which is different from changing parents’ minds.[1]  The goal is to simply be clear and straightforward when setting expectations with your parents.  Achieving a shared understanding also does not mean that the coach is necessary obligated to incorporate parent feedback.  As Robinson says, “Not everything is negotiable, and coach-parent consensus is not always required (73).”

Your parent meeting agenda should obviously include basic information and logistics, including your coaching background, contact information, practice schedule, game schedule, and tournament information.  You will also want to share your team rules, policies, and expectations.

You will get the most out of the meeting if it is child-free and relatively short.  If you can get on-ice coverage, it works well to hold the meeting during a practice so the children are occupied and the duration is delimited.  45 minutes is an ideal meeting length and allows for a few questions at the end; after an hour you will find that there is a significant drop-off in the attentiveness of your audience.  Run through your agenda a few times before the meeting to make sure the meeting will fit into the time you have allotted.

A great way to create a team culture of two-way communication is to structure the meeting as more of a conversation and less of a lecture.  If you are not used to speaking in front of groups it might be extra intimidating to conduct this type of open-format meeting, but including the parents can be as simple as starting out with an ice breaker or taking questions at the end of each section of your agenda.

Suggested agenda

  • Icebreaker and parent introductions
  • Staff introductions
    • Hockey experience, training, and qualifications
    • Coaching philosophy
    • Contact information and preferred method of communication
      • Do you prefer emails, texts, phone calls, or in-person meetings?
      • Are there hours during the day that parents should not call or text?
      • Are you open to impromptu live meetings or do you want parents to schedule them ahead of time?
      • Should players/parents contact the head coach, assistant coach, or the manager to report absences or other issues?
    • Season objectives
      • Short-term vs. Long-term objectives
      • On-ice vs. Off-ice objectives
      • Individual player vs. Team objectives
      • Note: This is an easy place to include the parents by asking them what their objectives are, or asking them to imagine what their children’s objectives might be.
    • Housekeeping
      • Schedule
        • Practices
        • Games
        • Tournaments
        • Other ____________________
      • Team funds
      • Rules, regulations, and team policies
        • 24-hour rule
        • Injury and return-to-play policy
        • Codes of Conduct
          • Coach
          • Parent
          • Player
        • Consequences for breaking the rules
      • Parent expectations and responsibilities
        • Everyone is expected to pitch in
          • Scoresheets
          • Game clock
          • Penalty box
          • Fundraising
          • Organizing team events and parties
          • Other ____________________
        • Attendance policy
        • Locker room policies
          • Parents in the locker room
          • Food in the locker room
          • Devices and electronics in the locker room
          • Other ____________________

Icebreaker ideas


[1] Robinson, Matthew J. Sport club management. Human Kinetics, 2010.