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Friday, April 18, 2014


OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #3: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

One of the first books I owned as a young coach was "Coaching Basketball Successfully" by the legendary Morgan Wootten.  As a high school coach why not learn from the very best.  In fact, I still refer to the book from time to time at this stage of my career.  It is an outstanding book for coaches on levels but if you coach on the junior high or high school level, it is a must-have for your library.

There is a section in the book about how Coach Wootten went about his duties during the off-season.  If you have the book, each of these sections delve into greater details but here is a quick look at the things Coach Wootten would do in the period immediately following the season:

A coach’s job is not over when the season ends; it just changes. Rather than working hands-on with players, you will be evaluating and planning for the future.

No matter what kind of season you had, you need to sit down and thoroughly evaluate your program.  What you want to find out is where you were, how you did with what you had, and where you are going.

The first step I recommend in analyzing your program is to have your graduating seniors write out their thoughts on the program.  Tell the seniors that you are not looking for flowery accolades, but substantive ideas and criticisms that they believe will improve your program.  It should be private, personal evaluation by the seniors; for it to be helpful, they must be completely honest.

I also ask all of my coaches for a written evaluation of the past season. I learned a long time ago from George Allen, the late, great coach of the NFL’s Rams and Redskins, that if you really want someone’s opinion, get it in writing.

At the same time, you should evaluate your staff.  Again, I suggest you do this in writing.  Then sit down with each member of the staff and go over that evaluation with him.  Tell each of them what you honestly see as his strengths and weaknesses, and what he can do to improve.

The evaluations should be completed for positive reasons, primarily so that all of the players and all of the coaches (including the head coach) can grow.  From examining the strengths and weaknesses of the coaches and the overall program,  I can get a pretty good picture of what I’m doing well or not doing well.

My assistants and I evaluate our personnel the same way we evaluate ourselves and our program.  We have each player submit a written evaluation of himself to the coaching staff.  I will then meet individually with each player and discuss with him his own and the coaches evaluations.  At these meetings, I will share with each player the things that the coaching staff believes he needs to do to become a better basketball players.  I remind each player that individual evaluations continue throughout the year, and that he will undergo the same process during summer league play.