It’s March, the most exciting month on the basketball calendar. It’s win or go home time. The team has worked hard all season long. Coaches and players have put in a tremendous amount of work. Only one team from each class will end with a title, for everyone else it’s a loss. You’re never ready for the end, and there’s never any magic words to make it better. How do you handle the end of the season? This week we’ll discuss five ways for coaches to successfully close the season.
Be emotionally present for the team. No one is ever truly prepared for the end of the season. And for some, the end of their careers. It can be a very emotional time. As coaches, it is our job to be there for your players. It doesn’t have to be through a speech. A hug, arm around the shoulder, or pat on the back may be all it takes. Do not cover the details of what went wrong after the game, there will be time for that later. In the moments right after and the immediate days following the loss focus on being emotionally present for your players, especially your seniors.
Thank your seniors. These individuals have given everything they have to your program over the past four years. They are not ready to be done playing, and for the vast majority of them it means their playing careers are over. It’s important that you take the time immediately following the last game to thank them. Make sure all coaches and underclassmen take a minute to give them a hug and thank them before they leave the locker room. It’s also important to recognize the seniors and express gratitude for their efforts in front of the entire program at your end of the season meetings.
Hold end of the season meetings. Within three days of the end of the season, you should hold a team meeting. In our program we have a varsity meeting where we discuss the season, collect gear, talk about awards, banquet, and what we learned from the season. Then a day or two after that meeting we hold a program wide meeting. In this meeting we first recognize and show appreciation for our seniors. We then dismiss the seniors and begin to talk about offseason expectations for the upcoming season. This is important as it begins to shift the mindset and prepare next years leaders for what’s to come.
Conduct One-on-One meetings with players. The meetings with seniors are more like exit interviews where you discuss what they enjoyed most, learned from, and memories made. It’s also important to get their input on what can be improved to make the program better. For the underclassmen it’s important to have a player evaluation sheet filled out when meeting. Coaches should evaluate the player on the season they just had; there are tons of forms you could use online. During this meeting it’s vital the coach discuss what the player’s strengths are and what they need to do to improve. This provides no value if the coach is not honest for fear of hurting feelings. Coaches should also discuss the preliminary role you see the player having on next years team at this time. These meetings are all about providing honest feedback and building excitement for next season.
Have an end of year banquet/ceremony. The overwhelming majority of teams do this already, but its value cannot be understated. The season lasts four months, but we all know that it has become a year-round commitment. It’s important to hold this night so coaches from all levels can provide a season summary and publicly acknowledge all players on all levels. End of season awards can be given out to highlight accomplishments. It’s also a good idea to have a highlight reel to play in the background,and a slide show that involves all levels of the program. This night should be all about highlighting and celebrating all of the things that your program accomplished this past season. This night also provides the perfect opportunity to empathize your programs philosophy, values, and offseason program.
Once the banquet is over it’s imperative that coaches take some time off. Take a week or two to completely step away from the game. Go home after school. Once you’ve had time to rest and recharge, it’s time to get back to the grind and prepare for next season.
What are some things you do to successfully close your season? Please share your ideas.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak and present to your team, group, and organization. Message him for details.