(Team) Moms make the (youth sports) world go 'round

There is no better time than Mothers Day weekend to talk about the role Mothers play in youth sports, both as the matriarch of the athletic family, but also as the "Team Mom" of their child's team in any given sport.

Many times it is the Mother that provides balance to the athletic families life and makes sure things remain in the proper perspective. Mothers often control the families schedule, and avoid over-scheduling a young players life. Unfortunately there are also many times the Mother has to "officiate" the Post Game Analysis that we should try to avoid altogether.

The "Team Mom" has become a fixture and an integral part in the culture of sports. I suppose the more "politically correct" term now is "Team Parent" because, I suppose we now have some Fathers that also serve in this capacity of Team Administrator. I suppose if it was a college athletic program they'd probably call them the "Director of Operations".

There are not many things that can make a youth sports coach job any easier than to have a great Team Mom. Having an administrator that organizes the snack schedule (notice what I listed first), collect money for team parties, coaches gifts, handle photo day, fundraising, and assist in facilitating communication among the families takes all of that heat off the coach and allows them to...coach!

I have had some great Team Moms that contributed to the players' enjoyment that season, and others who left that job entirely up to me. Sometimes I held up my end of the bargain and, unfortunately, other times I fell a bit short of my own goals.

I once stumbled on a pretty good system of team organization that I now try to follow. There was a season I couldn't get anyone to assume the many typical duties of the Team Mom, so I had to "negotiate". Ultimately, I convinced one Mom to be in charge of all the other Moms - and have settled on this system ever since.

I now try to divide responsibilities among each of the families on the team, and put the Team Mom in charge of ensuring each of those jobs gets done. That way, everything doesn't all fall on the Team Mom either. Sharing responsibilities creates an environment where  everyone takes a little ownership in the administration of the team. This tends to create a sense of "team" and each  family may then have a bit more of a vested interest in season. Inviting everyone to contribute also sets the stage for others to step up and be the Team Mom in subsequent years and creates a league were everyone expects to chip in, so the bulk of the work doesn't fall on a small group of people. it als omight even inspire some to step up and become Board Members of the league down the line.

I've mentioned before that one of the Positive Coaching Alliance tools for "Filling the Emotional Tanks" of the players is the "Magic Ratio" of 5:1. This means the goal is to create a situation where each player has five times as many positive memories as they receive criticisms or corrections.

Many of the things the Team Mom takes care of contributes positively to this Magic Ratio. The parents have no control over how the game went and very little input on how the coaches may have handled it. During some rough days there may be more criticisms or corrections and the parents can't do anything about it - but they can make up for it.

A couple seasons ago, my sons baseball team had a tremendous Team Mom who would take 100+ photos a game and post them on a team Facebook page by the end of the night, that she also used to communicate practices, game times, and snack schedule reminders. I remember a game my son didn't feel he performed very well and a look at the photos "Filled His Emotional Tank" by reminding him how much fun he actually had. You could also use this Shutterfly template that does all those things for you.

Those post-game snacks, pizza parties, BBQs, photos, etc do wonders for Filling players Emotional Tanks. When players are enjoying all these fun things, it enables them to take corrections in a more positive way. Players that handle those corrections also tend to improve more than those who are playing with empty Emotional Tanks.

All these contributions simply make the coaches job easier. Not only is there going to be a more family friendly environment in which the players are having more fun, the coaches efforts will actually be more effective. Freeing up the coaches time to actually plan a practice, handle pre-game warm ups and post game talks can only benefit the players. Rather than handling a bunch of logistics the coach can actually coach.

There are many resources for Team Moms, and parents in general, but one of the best is http://www.momsTEAM.com . Brooke De Lenche provides the site and offers information from her team of experts on navigating the world of youth sports from a parents perspective. I encourage you to visit, and bring the Dads along too. there is plenty of information, and some coaching advice that is valuable to all.

Another valuable role of the Team Mom, that can be delegated or shared, is one of the "Culture Keeper" in the stands. A Positive Youth Sports Culture involves not only the coaches and athletes, but also parents and fans. That’s where you come in. The Culture Keeper’s job is to spread the word about Positive Coaching to parents and fans on the sidelines. You can find some other tips in the Parent tools section provided by Positive Coaching Alliance.

Parents may have multiple children who play youth sports and they can try to do it a little better each time out. Children only have one shot at the experience and it is up to all of us, in an Alliance, to hope they get it right. Team Moms are a vital member of that Alliance. Here is a special Mothers Day Memory to the Team Mom of Cliftons Cafeteria, 1970 Covina City Champions.

I miss you.


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