RECOGNITION for Your Players, Parents and Sponsors
Recognition of players, parents, sponsors, or anyone who deserves it is a key element in the success of your team. When a player does something noteworthy, it is important to insure that player gets recognition, a mention in the newspaper article about a tournament or perhaps a small award. When someone does something to support the team, whether a financial contribution or volunteering to help, it is important to properly recognize that person.
In this article we will look at recognition in three categories: (1) players, (2) parents and (3) sponsors.
Recognition for players goes a long way toward building individual self-esteem and keeping team morale high. There are several effective ways to recognize your players, among those are:
Pre-season team picture. At one of the first practices, take a team picture and make a copy for every member of the team. Giving your players recognition for being part of a team early on helps create more of a team feeling. This is especially important if you have a new team or many new players.
Team shirt. Design and buy a team shirt featuring your team name or logo and the motivational slogan for the team for the season. Every player and coach gets a shirt which is worn on all team trips, again to focus on being a team.
Birthday Cards. Buy birthday cards, small and not too personal, and send one to every member of the team on their birthday. There is no better recognition for a player than to show them you value them as a person as well as a member of the team.
Weekly Awards. Purchase reasonably priced, small, motivational awards and present them to the player, or players, who have earned recognition for the week. The recognition can be for effort, excellence, enthusiasm or whatever criteria you define at the beginning of the season. A good time to present the award is at the first practice of the following week.
End of Season. There are a number of recognition items which can be utilized at the end of the season. Team awards can be presented at an end of season team party. The party, held at a players home or a park area, is a TEAM party, to which all players, parents and coaches are invited. If you have a good personal relationship with any of your sponsors, its a good idea to invite them too. Awards are selected by the players and/or the coaches for many accomplishments: Most Improved, Most Enthusiastic, Most Hustle, Most Valuable, Best Offensive Player, Best Defensive Player, Coaches Award, etc. The awards should be structured to reflect what you, as a coach, want to emphasize in your program. One other nice touch for the team party is to recognize any player (s) moving up in age who wont be on the team next season. A certificate for each player makes a nice award. Another recognition item is a team shirt with the accomplishments of the season highlighted. This is especially good if your team has won a major championship - state, region, etc. One more option is a team plaque which would have the details of the teams record, tournaments, league, etc., the team saying and team logo printed on it.
And finally, I prepare a participation certificate for each player which I award at the team party. Players love getting an individual award which they can take home and positive recognition is always a good thing.
The blanks I use are titled Celebrating Excellence Certificate Sampler and are 8 ½ x 11. You can buy a box of ninety-six certificates (sixteen each of six designs) and Certificate Seals from Successories. There are several themes available and the seals are about 1.75 in diameter.
Purchasing a team visor or hat and/or a team shirt for parents is a good way to recognize them. If all the parents wear their hat and/or visor and shirt at the games, it builds a very nice cheering section for the team.
Few programs will survive without the financial support of sponsors. Sponsors can help in many ways through financial support; providing equipment and uniforms; placing advertising in a team booklet; or providing other goods and services. In any case, it is imperative to recognize sponsors graciously and in a timely manner. Several ways to do this are:
Purchase a team banner, with the team name and city on the banner and space for patches for your sponsors. Some teams also put their championship patches on their banner. A good size for a banner is roughly 5 wide and 3 tall. Banner patches, approximately 4 by 8, with the sponsors name can be purchased as needed and sewn on the banner. The banner should have metal grommets in the four corners and the horizontal middle for mounting on the fence. A good way to mount the banner is to tie heavy string in the grommets and tie a fence clip on the other end. If you use the proper strength string you will find that, on a windy day, the string will break before the banner is damaged.
Purchase an advertisement in your local newspaper thanking all the sponsors. This provides them recognition and advertising for their business which helps justify their contribution.
Write a team newsletter early in the season, including your schedule and some information about your players, and send it to every sponsor with a personal note thanking them for their contribution and inviting them to come to your games. The personal touch will pay big dividends in the future when you ask your sponsors to contribute again.
At the end of the season, present your sponsor(s) a thank you plaque with a team picture mounted under Plexiglas. Sponsors can put these plaques up in their place of business, and it shows to the community their support for youth baseball.
If you are looking for some quality items for your motivational program, there are two companies which have appropriate merchandise.
BAUDVILLE, 5380 52nd St., S. E. Grand Rapids, MI, 49512-9765 www.baudville.com 800-728-0888
SUCCESSORIES, 2520 Diehl Rd., Aurora, IL 60504 www.successories.com 800-535-2773
Printed with permission from A Youth Baseball Coaches Tool Kit