How to Contact the Players
You will need to contact your team by telephone at the beginning of the season to notify the parents and players about the starting dates for practices. You may also need to call your team in the event of a practice or game cancellation due to weather or other circumstances. There’s other things you'll need to include in your initial contact with each player, such as the practice locations and your name and phone number, as outlined here.
When calling your team’s players, introduce yourself by name and state that you are a coach from the Recreation Department: "Hi, this is Michael Hall with Walker Recreation. May I speak to John?" This helps to communicate to adults and wary children in the household the reason why an adult is calling for a child - especially if you are a male coach.
Coaches in the 5-6 age group and the 7-8 age group should call the parent of the player straight away. Kids this age are less likely to remember all the many details you've given them and won't be prepared to write them down. With players in the older age groups (9-10 and 11-13), they have the ability to record important information and relay that to their parents. In fact, some parents insist, as a matter of teaching their kids responsibility, that the player handle that; so in some cases, expect the parent to hand the phone to their child to have them work with you directly.
Be prepared to provide all your information at-hand when calling your team. Parents will often ask specific scheduling questions, like when team pictures, what time the first game is scheduled for, and so-on. Definitely have all your dates memorized or noted on a cheat-sheet for handy reference during this initial phone call.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when making your calls.
- When to call: Kids come home from school between 3:30pm and 4:30pm, so that’s a good time to reach players in the older age groups. In all cases, you will want to make your calls before 5:45pm in order to avoid collisions with dinner time, when families are often out of the house or sitting down to a family meal. My recommendation therefore is to start making your calls at 4:30pm and you should be done by 5:30pm on a weekday with a reasonably high success rate for contacts.
- Voice Mail and answering machines: Be prepared to leave phone messages, and keep track of the kids that you could not reach in person and that did not have voice mail or an answering machine. You will have to call them back later. Keep it short: Only include your name, state that you're a coach for the recreation department with scheduling information for the player – and finally, clearly speak your phone number!
- Parents: If an adult answers, ask if they are the player’s parent. It is ideal to have a parent answer, because then you can just give the information to them directly. Otherwise, you'll have to leave the information in voice mail or on an answering machine, or sometimes still you’ll have to leave a message with another child in the household (if that’s who answers).
- The player (or another child in the household): I usually ask a younger child if they can take a message; some kids aren't comfortable with message-taking, and will respond negatively. If they can write down a message, I ask them simply to "write down a couple dates." I give them the two dates for the first two practices and then tell them to write down "first practices for soccer" by the dates. By relaying to younger people first the dates and then a short note like that, it prevents the youngster taking the message from becoming confused (and then frightened by their confusion) which, believe me, happens. Make sure the child takes the practice location and your contact information so the parent or player can call you back later.
- Callbacks: When you've left a message, you will very often got a confirming call back from a parent. Some parents prefer to use the callback as an opportunity to teach their youngsters responsibility, so they'll put the player up to it, so don't be surprised if your players call on their own!
- Email, text/SMS and electronic communications: In recent years, I have discovered that many people are more easily reached electronically, but be sure the person on the other end gives some kind of confirmation or reply. As with voice mail and answering machine messages, the important thing is to make sure your message got through.