Setting clear expectations for scheduling conflicts

I was tooling around on one of our tournament web sites, prepping up for the weekend and making sure everything was ready to go when I ran across this frequently-asked question. I thought the answer was brilliant in that it set clear expectations for scheduling conflicts, far in advance and in plain view of the public.

What is the policy on schedule requests?

We will do what we can to accommodate your requests, however, the following types of conflict requests WILL NOT be considered as a legitimate request:

  • Can you schedule a game no earlier than noon because our coach is not available?
  • Can you schedule a game in the afternoon because we are arriving from out of state the night before or first morning of the tournament?
  • I have 6 teams in the tournament and want to get to all the games in one weekend?
  • I have 4 teams in the tournament and want to get to all the games in one weekend?
  • I have 3 teams in the tournament and want to get to all the games in one weekend?
  • Can you schedule one game the first day, and two on the second?
  • Can you schedule two games on the first day, and one on the second?
  • Can you reschedule the semi-finals and/or finals to accommodate the 2+ teams I have in the semi-finals and/or finals?
  • Can you reschedule Sunday games to accommodate my teams departure flight times?
  • Can you schedule games on adjacent fields so I can coach two games at once?

Please note that it takes hours and hours to make the tournament game and referee assignment schedule and every schedule change is a big deal. It is impossible to take in to consideration 3 or more teams playing the same weekend. For coaches taking multiple teams to a tournament we encourage you to have assistant coaches who can coach the team in your absence. At best we can try to accommodate 2 teams playing in the same weekend.

I especially like that the requests are termed “not legitimate.” It is a bit like running out of gas on the freeway. While it may be an emergency to you, it is not a legitimate break down as it was foreseen and highly preventable. You will still get a ticket for stopping on the freeway.

Our Advice: We’ve commented on multiple team coaches, late Saturday starts and game conflicts before and our views are pretty well-known. (Go ahead and read the blog posts if you want.. we’ve been ranting on this since 2006.) It is not enough to merely have a policy about multi-team coaches and conflicts; you have to communicate the expectations and boundaries clearly and make sure your staff is 100% on board.

Coaches will keep chipping away at you, your staff or a club coach to find that soft spot in the armor. Don’t let them. Whatever your policy is, stick with it or you will end up with a lot more stress than one coach’s grousing. It’s always better to have one coach irritated at you for not getting what s/he wanted than all of them mad as heck because you didn’t play fairly by your own rules.