The real basketball season is almost here. It’s been a long seven months. Players and coaches are chomping at the bit to get things under way. As any coach will tell you, there really is no offseason; there’s just different phases of the season. I’d be willing to bet that if you ask most coaches, they’d say the preseason is their favorite time of the year. The excitement and energy levels are through the roof, and the season’s foundation is set. As we approach the first day of practice, the to-do list mounts every day. Although the list may be long, we can’t forget the most important things.
Here are seven things coaches should do before the season starts:
Review your summer and list of improvements. At the end of last season you most likely made a list of things your team needed to improve upon. Summer workouts, games, and camps were all designed to improve the areas of concern. Now it’s time to create another list, what worked well this summer and what didn’t? It’s key for coaches to identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses heading into the pre-season.
Attend a clinic. Missouri held it’s annual coaches clinic a few weeks ago. I love attending every year because it serves as the unofficial season kickoff. It provides a kickstart and energy boost. Even if you’re not able to attend one in person, you can still utilize the power of technology. Researching and watching film on coaches, drills, techniques, and motivation are equally as beneficial. It’s a good idea to organize your binder or online folder into categories which will help you plan practices throughout the season. Don’t try to copy how others organize theirs, do what makes sense to you.
Create your musts. What is your team going to stand for this season? What are the pillars you want your program to represent. It’s important to keep your list small. Remember, it’s better to do a few things exceptionally well rather than a lot with mediocrity. Teams will only usually do five things really well. So, what are the five things you want your team’s identity to be on offense, defense, and in transition? Don’t leave these to chance. You can always adjust during the season, but you’d better have one going into it.
Hype your program. Coaches must be a champion for their program. If the coach isn’t excited about the upcoming season, why should the players be? The best and most efficient way to do this is through social media. This is where your players’ attention is. In order to have a successful program, coaches and players must have strong relationships. Players are more likely to buy into the coach and the program if they can relate. I highly recommend using Twitter (most coaches do) and Snapchat. Kids pay more attention to Snapchat, so it’s wise to create a page for your team. It’s easy and fun to use. If you’re not communicating and hyping your program through social media; you need to start.
Plan your first week. Every minute of each practice should be planned to the minute during the first week. Again, this is time to lay the foundation of success for your season. The first week is stressful enough without having to go home and plan your practice for the next day. Do yourself a favor and have it planned prior to the first day of tryouts. Once the first week is over, it’s good to have a skeleton plan going into the week, but you’ll want to evaluate each day and edit your practice plan according to what needs the most work.
Have a coaches meeting. Don’t be the program where the first time the coaches have met is 30 minutes before practice. A good practice is to have an early coaches meeting a month prior to the season to discuss the overall vision, standards, goals and philosophies. Another meeting should take place a week or two prior to the beginning of the season to discuss practice plans for the first week. Great programs have coaches who are all in sync and on the same page. Player buy-in will come much easier if they see the coaches are on the same page and practice is running like a well-oiled machine.
K.I.S.S. Yep, we’re talking about the old coaches’ adage: Keep It Simple Stupid. As coaches (I know I do this from time to time) we tend to get ahead of ourselves and overcomplicate things. Remember, the first weeks are laying the foundation. Don’t worry about getting every offensive set, all your defenses, and your presses in. In order for our kids to play fast, they have to feel confident. That doesn’t happen when we overwhelm them. This year I am making a conscious effort to keep things simple at the beginning and only add to it when our players show they are ready.
Develop a character program. As my friend Adam Bradley says, “The talent and spotlight for so many players today is taking them to heights their character is not strong enough to support.” How many of our kids go on to play collegiately? How many go on to play professionally? That’s what I thought, not many. Almost all coaches agree, we want to teach more than the game. But the problem is we don’t have the time or the tools to do so. What if I told you there was a solution to this problem?
Adam Bradley created an amazing program that provides a fun, engaging, and authentic curriculum designed to make your players better leaders. Who doesn’t want better leaders on their team? The best part is Lead Em Up has a curriculum ready for coaches to implement. All coaches have to do is login, preview the week’s lesson, and then execute it in a fun 30-minute session with their players.
As always, thanks for listening, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.