It’s March and your season is over, now what? As coaches, we constantly tell our players that the Summer is where they improve their game and become better all-around players. However, sometimes we forget that we are the most important part of this equation. If we as coaches are not trying to improve ourselves, then we are not only cheating ourselves but our team and program as well. I am going to go through a few of the things we have already done with our program and then expand on them.
The first thing you need to do to move on into the post-season is to meet as a team. I recommend giving your players a few days to handle the emotions of the season ending to allow them to clear their minds. This meeting should be a round table discussion. Talk to your players, get their feedback; were there elements or situations that they felt effected the outcome of the season? Were there any long-term distractions throughout the season? I think that it is important to gain their perspective as more times than not you as the coach can actually learn from your players just by listening.
As we all know, players (especially young players) are not the best with opening up in front of their peers. Create an evaluation form for your players and let them take it home and fill it out. Obtain their feedback on numerous areas: skill level, work ethic, areas of improvement, and also include areas for coaching staff critique. You will be pleasantly (and unpleasantly) surprised at the answers you receive by allowing your players to fill these out. Once you review them, set up a time to discuss the evaluation on a one-on-one basis with each player.
You should also create a tentative Summer schedule and hand that out to your players before the meeting is over. Review this schedule so that each player knows what is expected. Never allow your players or your coaches to become burned out. Give them about a month off before starting your Spring/Summer workouts to re-focus on their grades and let all of their bumps and bruises heal.
As we all know most players, high school especially, will take a family vacation during the Summer months. So it is vital that you create your entire Summer schedule as soon as possible. This schedule needs to include dates you will have team practices, team camps and/or AAU events you will attend, and if you host your own camps the days you expect them to assist in those camps. Doing this as soon as possible will make your players’ parents much happier so they can plan their vacation.
However, it is ESSENTIAL that your players know that these “scheduled” times are for team building and improvement only. In order for team improvement to occur, they must put in twice as much time in the weight room and on the court improving their individual skills. Unfortunately not very many players can afford a personal trainer or “workout guy”. Put together some summer workouts both on and off the court for your players so they can have a plan of action to improve. But it is up to them to put in the work. I broke it down for our players like this: “If you wake up at 10 am and go to bed midnight during the Summer, you have 12 1/2 HOURS (took out 1.5 hours for breakfast, lunch, & dinner) every day to find just 45 minute to an hour to improve yourself and become stronger. If you can’t, it will be very obvious in October”.
Our program/players are very fortunate in that we utilize Hudl every game to breakdown our film so that our players are able to watch the film on their own outside of our team meetings. Watching film is one of the greatest ways to learn and improve. I encouraged our players to take time throughout the Summer and watch every game.
Once you evaluate your players, it is now time to use those player evaluations and review them with your coaching staff. Assess your staff and what each coach needs to do in order to improve as well.
Breakdown Offense / Defense Execution
One thing I really enjoy doing at the end of the season is breaking down all of our possessions on each end of the floor and look for areas that we did not perform as well. If you read my earlier post “What Are You Doing on the Bench?”, you know that I keep an offensive and defensive chart during all of our games. When the season was over, I added them all up and calculated the points. I also broke them down into Season, Wins, and Losses to see the effects versus the outcome. Below are the final results; as you can see I highlighted the calls in yellow that are areas we need to improve upon.
– % is calculated on offense by: Times Successful divided by Times Ran
-% is calculated on defense by: Times Opponent Had Success divided by Times Ran
-# following the % is the average points per game
Staff / Self Improvement
As I mentioned earlier, you and your staff should always be looking for ways to improve. Outside of doing what I have already mentioned, you should also look into attending at least two clinics during the Spring/Summer/Fall. That gives you about 7 MONTHS to find some time in your schedule to learn. It is March and I already have two clinics on my schedule: Final Four NABC clinic(s) in New Orleans, Coaching U Live (HIGHLY RECOMMEND-You will not find a better learning environment). If you are having a hard time finding a great clinic, HoopDirt.com does a great job staying up to date with clinics across the country. (If you plan on attending the Final Four or Coaching U Live I would love to meet you).
Enjoy Your Family
I left this last for the end because it is the most important. From our never ending mood swings to our irregular sleeping schedule during the season, it takes an extraordinary women to be the wife of a coach. Make sure in your Summer schedule that you do not forget to include a nice little vacation for your family. If you are lucky enough to have children, take as much time as possible to enjoy them. They will only be young once and the time will fly. (I have yet to experience this but come September 3rd it will start). One thing that I am terrible of and I strongly encourage is to turn off your cell phone/pager when you are spending time with your family. Especially while on vacation, leave Twitter and Facebook in the hotel. Check your voicemails and texts at night before you go to bed in case an emergency occurs, outside of that leave the iPhone in the bag.
Would love to hear your feedback. Is there anything I left off that you do in the Off-Season?