The youth sport organization that can create an inviting atmosphere for families will have increased long term success in accomplishing a culture of togetherness throughout the entire group. This closeness will promote increased commitment to the organization, the team, the coaches, and other families which will encourage teams to stay together over the long term. Other benefits include families and participants becoming good friends and athletes that grow passionate about training and playing together.
Organizations that create a culture of togetherness for their athletes and families begin this process at their earliest experiences. Within the world of youth sport organizations, this process usually begins somewhere around the age of five. Successful organizations strategically plan transitions that strengthen group commitment as the participant moves on to the next program or age group. Creating experiences of meaningful connection inspire families to take a larger part within the group such as volunteering time or donating money towards the organization. Examples of experiences that can promote this type of connection culture include:
- Organization introduction opportunities with the youngest age groups in the beginning of the season. The coaches meet and greet the families in the parking lot, introduce themselves, and walk them to the field. This introduction affirms to the families that the coaches and organization are excited about their participation within the program. As players grow older, the teams have kick off the season parties with families, coaches, and organization directors all in attendance to cultivate an inviting atmosphere
- Weekly e-mail correspondence that provides information on why we do what we do during training and games, parent expectations, and information about the successes of the organization will assist in creating an informed and educated youth sport family.
- Consistent coaching behaviors during training sessions and games. Consistency begins by always showing up on time and being prepared with the appropriate equipment and a lesson plan. Training and game behaviors mirror each other and the club philosophy on playing time, development versus winning, and how success is defined is always applied. The coach is a professional and treats interaction with team members and families in a competent manner. The coach is the most visible leader for a majority of families and must be knowledgeable about the values of the organization in order to expand overall commitment to the organization.
- Organization sponsored events such as a team meeting, fundraiser, end of season banquet, educational speaking event, or parent and coach “happy hour” allow the coaches, organizational directors, and parents to learn more about each other and continue working towards creating a more meaningful and valuable relationship. Coaches and directors that can interact with families by name in a respectful manner and offer a meaningful anecdote about an experience with their child on the field will have a common bond that can lead to a stronger personal and organizational relationship.
- Organizational social media contests in which parents or athletes (when they are old enough) post on a personal social media page with a distinct hashtag. These contests when promoted correctly keep the families and athletes engaged with the youth sport organization. Examples of social media contests can be:
- Post your best game picture.
- Post a picture and story wearing your uniform while on vacation or at an important landmark.
- Holiday video contest where the athlete performs a specific skill relative to the sport in a costume specific to the holiday (works great at Halloween).
As a youth sports organization, one of our goals is to create experiences that are so compelling that even the most skeptical parents want to bring their kids back to more training and games, register for camps and additional training, and tell their friends about our great programs. By providing an intentionally designed atmosphere that promotes group commitment in a culture of togetherness, we are able to provide a family friendly experience that provides meaning to all involved.
What are your experiences that create meaningful experiences and grow commitment within your youth sports organization? Reply to this post so we can all grow as athletes, families, coaches, and directors.
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