Every new season brings new team dynamics, new players and new beginnings. It’s easy to get caught up in everything that happened before and carry that into the new year. That makes sense considering it is your last experience, but boy is that thought process counterproductive. No season will be the same as the last, I mean honestly look at any professional team and you can see that. So, when a new season begins it’s so important to make sure that you and your team start on the right foot so that everyone knows that it’s a fresh start. How do you do that? Here are a few tips to allow the start of the season to set the tone that you want.
Get to know your players and their off season:
If you have new players get to know not only them as a person but what motivates them and what their experience is. Ask them what they like and don’t like, why they play and what they respond best to. If you have returning players ask them what they did in the off season, it’s important to know if they’ve been sitting around doing nothing or dedicated the time away to get better. Ask about major life events, especially ones that can distract from their focus.
Set your expectations:
They need to know what you expect from them as individuals but also as a team. Some coaches have their players sign contracts that lay out the rules up front, which is a great way to make sure that they are being held accountable and have a standard all season. Also notify parents of these expectations because if they are younger players their parents are agreeing to these expectations too.
Let them tell you their expectations of you:
To be a good coach and to have a successful season you need to know what your athletes want and expect out of you. There needs to be mutual respect, not just because of your role, but because they feel like they are getting what they need from the experience and they can have open communication. This goes back to knowing your players as well, knowing what they expect from you is going to help you coach them more effectively and ultimately be more successful.
Team Goal Setting:
This encompasses everything above and one more added factor, it allows for the players to be accountable for themselves and each other. When you correctly set goals as a team everyone is agreeing to adhere to those stepping stones to reach the result. So, if a player falls out of line or is not meeting that standard the other players can motivate them to get back on track. It also sets a more defined expectation with some autonomy because they are not being told what to do but are a part of deciding what needs to be done.