For those of us who are parents, particularly those whose kids are involved in sports, we spend a lot of time with other parents watching our children play in their matches. Looking back over the past 10 years that is collectively quite a few parents I have sat and cheered beside!
My experience has run the gamut from being on a team that felt like an extended family, one example I will mention later, and other teams, I hate to admit, where I barely knew the coach’s wife’s name. While the coach or coaches usually set the overall tone for how connected the team families will be, I do believe as a parent, we can play a part in helping the team feel more cohesive and connected…well, like a real team.
Why make the effort you ask? Because isn’t it more pleasant to meet up with people on a regular basis who know your name and you know theirs and you feel a little connection with them? And isn’t it nice for your children when they see their parents talking and laughing together during snack time or before or after the practices or games instead of everyone on their cell phones ignoring one another? I love chatting with the moms and dads briefly to see what they are up to lately and them the same with me. I think it is a good thing after a rough day when you get to practice or a game and can forget about that stuff and just enjoy the company of a few nice parents for a while.
This was definitely the case for me last year when I was going thru a real challenging time and I was feeling very isolated. The highlight of my week was seeing the friendly faces of the moms and coaches of a new volleyball team my younger daughter had joined. It was like a breath of fresh air and after connecting and cheering our kids on together, I always felt better afterward. This past year, we have been lucky to be on this team with dedicated coaches (Coach Mike and Coach Tim) and their lovely wives (Maria and Annette) and other equally great moms (see the group shot above) and it has been such pure joy for me and my family!
In fact, we have extended our connection off the court and have recently scheduled moms’ nights out and plan to do so even after the season has ended. On just a side note, while being with these coaches, we won three First Place titles and one Second Place title—I feel the strength of our team bonding has only helped our team –it sure can’t hurt!
Of course not all parents on a team are open to or want this kind of connection and for those who don’t want to participate, it is really their loss and they shouldn’t be looked down upon—they are just missing on the positive effects of connecting! Here are some tips to help encourage more team parent bonding in sports:
- Put together a family team roster with both parents’ names along with their child’s name and phone numbers and distribute it early in the season.
- For those who have the time, how about taking a photo of each family and insert a small photo alongside their information—that would really help put names to faces!
- Reach out and ask parents to point out who their kids are and get to know them a little better
- If your child really connects well with one or more players, how about inviting them over for some social time at your house; use the opportunity to get to know the parents at drop off and pick up time
- Take time to plan a fun end-of-season party—the kids love it and it’s a nice bonding opportunity
- If you find a group of parents you really like and connect with, don’t hesitate to set up something after hours. For example, we planned a moms’ happy hour while our kids did Friday night practice.
Are you part of a team that is really connected? What activities do you do to strengthen that bonding—please share!