Monday, May 18, 2015

#44 Creating a Championship Off-Season

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 
--Calvin Coolidge

A lot is happening right now in most coach's worlds; even though, we are half-way through May and practice does not start for most of you for another 7 months.  However, this is the time where championships can be won or lost.  What are you doing to make sure your team continues to develop the way you want them to; especially if your respective rules do not allow you to work with them until October or November?  Here's a few tips to start building your next championship:

Now is the time to pull out your game film from last year.  Evaluate your talent, your decisions, and your demeanor and start taking notes.  I wouldn't put too much time into beating yourself or your kids up as you watch film, but do start addressing how you want to change your priorities for next season.  Here's 5 things that I recommend focusing on when watching last year's film:
  1. Were your kids in good enough shape?  Were they strong enough mentally and physically?
  2. Were your rotations designed to make every player an impact player or to just rest your best players?
  3. Were you prepared to be the best defensive and rebounding team on the floor?  Did you put enough emphasis on being great at man-to-man pressure and winning the "team" rebound battle every possession?  Were your guards aggressively awesome rebounders or did you put too much pressure on your bigs to own that alone?
  4. How did you handle good runs and bad runs?  Were you the coach you wanted to be on the sidelines and in time-outs?  What can you practice now to help you be more under control; and therefore, keep your kids relaxed when they need you the most?  Were you prepared for every situation?  Trust me, you'll know the answer to that when you watch film.
  5. Did your offensive and defensive philosophies make sense for the talent you had or did you just install the systems you wanted to teach?  Evaluate your kids coming back and ask yourself, what do they need to reach their individual potential?  Position?  Who do they play best with?  That might mean one of your best players needs to come off the bench or one of your lesser shooters who is also a great defender and tempo creator needs to be a starter in front of a better scorer.
I finally reached my potential as a player when I was finally in a position to teach what I knew.  Unfortunately, I was 23 and my college career was over.  Take advantage of your camps or colleagues' camps to get your kids on the floor with younger players.  Make them teach what you know they need to be great at:  shooting technique, defensive positioning/rotations, rebounding technique/instinct development, and managing game situations.  The more they coach those things, the more it will become a part of them and less of something they do because you told them to.

If you have the time, make it a point of emphasis to write each of your players in your program a hand-written letter.  Use the letter as an opportunity to open up to them and express your desire to create the relationship you want to have with them.  If you are proud of them, tell them.  If you expect more of them this upcoming season, tell them that too, but also be humble.  Tell them that you expect more out of yourself, too, and you want a partnership in which each of you will commit to making each other better every day.

Kids don't get letters anymore, so a letter from their coach that is personal, direct, and motivational will inspire them more than you know.  Do they know how much you love them and believe in them?  Make sure they do now.

If you don't have time to write 12-15 individual letters in the next few weeks, start a weekly blog or email to your players.  Use it to remind them about upcoming games, events, etc, but also use it as a way to share tips, thoughts or motivational quotes or stories.  Trust me, the kids will look forward to those emails and will stay focused on the long journey ahead because of them.  I've done a weekly summer newsletter for almost 15 years.  I am happy to discuss your ideas and share some of mine that I have used in the past.

Now is the time to start getting excited about next season.  The 2015-16 season is your oyster.  What kind of pearl do you want to create?  Let go of any disappointments from last year.  Listen to your head and gut and start planning the GREAT season you want to have this winter.  Is it time to be you and throw a wrench into what you have done in the past.  Be creative.  Be different.  Show your kids that you aren't messing around, and you are going to put together the best experience they could possibly dream of.

As always, please let me know where I can help you and your kids.  I look forward to hearing your stories and if these ideas are helpful to you!

Go make your dreams come true!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary