As this season is quickly coming to a close it is time for coaches to reflect on the current season and do a year-end review. The goal of most organizations is to have a sustained competitive team year after year. This can be greatly facilitated with an organized, systematic review of the current season and the start of a plan for the following season. This article will have some tips and ideas on how to have a successful review.
Although the goal is to win games and championships, your program review must not be on the scoreboard and results. There must be a balance to the process as focusing solely on results may create a fog on your path. Do not waste your energy getting upset and focusing on the play that should have been made back in November! Be honest, clear, specific and realistic when you do your review.
Do your review as quickly as possible, once the season has concluded, do not let too much time go by as everyone will forget quickly on what happened during the season. In many situations, players and coaches will all leave and return to their off-season homes.
A simple way to start is to ask yourself three questions:
- What worked well this season?
- What could you change, or eliminate, from your program?
- What could be added to improve your program and player performance?
Make sure you write all this information down on paper or type it into your laptop. This is far too important of a process to leave to your memory bank!
Let’s take a look at some specific things that you need to ask these three questions:
1. Evaluate Each Player’s Progress
Go through each player and evaluate him, find some points that they did well and find some points that they can improve upon in the offseason. Include the opinion of managers, assistant coaches, and trainers. Determine who is graduating or leaving the team. Determine and make sure that each player fits into the teams playing system and philosophy, determine that they fit into the team culture and identity. Once this is done you can identify if there are any changes that you must make and how you need to recruit for the coming season. If you are going to make some changes in players or staff it is best to let them know right away so they can find another place to play or work.
2) Coach-Player Meeting
Allow 15 to 20 minutes with each player and set up a schedule where they all come to see you. I have given them a post-season questionnaire (you can email me if you would like a copy firstname.lastname@example.org) where they answer questions related to all aspects of the program. Communicate what you thought their strength and weaknesses were and leave them with things to work on in the off-season. Meeting with each player will benefit your relationship and it is amazing what coaches can learn from their players!
3) Staff-Player Meeting (if applicable)
If applicable the players should also meet with the General Manager, Equipment Manager to sort out equipment issues, the athletic therapist to deal with any offseason concerns with injuries and rehabilitation and the Strength and Conditioning coach to set up the off-season conditioning program.
4) Staff Questionnaire
Devise a questionnaire for your whole staff and sit down with each of them and get feedback on all aspects of the program (travel, equipment, training times, etc.).
5) Review the Budget
This also a time to review the budget for the past season and begin working on a budget for the new season.
6) Review your Systems
Review your complete playing system and the fundamental skills of each player. Perhaps there are some changes to the forechecking system or face-off plays. Individually your defensemen may need to improve their foot speed or their passing.
After receiving feedback from everyone in the organization it is time to do a self-evaluation. Review such things as leadership skills, teaching skills, communication skills, bench management, etc. Plan on continuing your education. Effective coaches never stop learning! Go to a coaching seminar, read some books, go visit coaches from other sports, go watch a professional team practice, there are many things a coach can do to improve.
8) Time Off
Take some time off! Coaching is a passion but there must be some balance in the coach’s life. Spend time with your family, travel, do some things away from hockey.
After asking the 3 questions on the above points and any other points you can think of, the coach should be able to identify areas to focus on for next season.
Coaching a successful program is a year-round task and the end of season evaluations is an on-going process that can take place all season. It can be as simple as writing things down on a piece of paper as they happen or keeping a simple journal in a notebook. Far too many events happen to remember at the end of the season.