When the dust has settled, the Awards Banquet is finished, and the uniforms are cleaned and put away, it’s time to start planning for next season. In a previous post, I covered the process of a Program Evaluation at season’s end. Once this information has been gathered and assimilated, then you can seriously start to organize your plans and goals for the next basketball season.
Begin by studying your potential roster. Decide whether your present Offensive and Defensive Systems will be best for next season too. Maybe you now have a big player to fit into your offense or some shorter, quicker players who can really run and press. Or maybe a young point guard will be moving up to Varsity who can drive and create better than anyone you had this past season. You need to figure out what system will fit your next team best and get the most from the talent they possess. If you just finished a miserable season and your style of play was unproductive and unsatisfying, you might want to grow as a coach and try something a little more exciting for you and your players. Remember, there never is a better time to make changes than the start of a new season.
While still searching for answers, you might get some ideas from your local post season tournament teams or from watching college basketball on TV. The NCAA Tournament in March has alway been one of my favorite sources of inspiration for creating new ideas toward the coming season. Whether it’s a different offense, defense, or even just an out of bounds play or two, postseason basketball is a great source of fresh ideas for your coaching playbook.
Once you have decided on the changes you want to make, it’s time to educate yourself fully. Study teams that use your new concept and even narrow your study down to one team if you can. Gather video of that team and study it closely. Watching recorded play is much easier for studying than live TV because you can rewind segments to review multiple times. You can also check online for videos of training sessions by a coach of the system that you are considering. Often times there are articles or short youtube clips on the internet covering what you want to learn. If your inspiration came from a local team, seek out that coach and see if you can “pick his brain” a little. He might welcome the meeting and want to exchange for some things you do with your team.
While gathering information about your new changes, you need to also work on your spring and summer schedule. How many sessions each week, which weeks, and what days will you hold training sessions? I liked having only two workouts a week starting in late April. It is the “off season” after all, so two a week should be enough. And going only twice a week allows the players to have the other five days to do weight training, outside activities, or to just rest and relax if they so choose. Those participating in spring sports will still have late May and June to get caught up. And they will be catching up with a group that actually knows how to execute the new changes. This makes it easier for newcomers to get up to speed rather quickly.
Decide on Summer Leagues, Summer Tournaments, and Team Camps you want your team to attend. You don’t want to fill up every weekend, but a couple of tournaments or camps are good for your team to try the new concepts and it gives everyone something to look forward to during workouts. These contests will be helpful to you, as a coach, in evaluating your players and your new schemes.
Pick a date to have your first team meeting. Invite all prospects to attend and collect contact information at this time. Briefly describe your vision and goals for the coming year and discuss when training begins. Hand out schedules of your workouts and any other league or tournament information you have already finalized. Later you will want to give out an updated, off-season schedule for all events. This can be emailed to parents too.
The spring and summer are really great times to initiate changes you want to make for next season. You can introduce concepts and drills slowly, giving players plenty of time to understand and master the skills needed for success next winter. As I mentioned earlier, I liked having off season workouts twice a week starting the last half of April and going through June. That allowed plenty of time to observe and evaluate any changes so I could see if they were what I really wanted. And if things didn’t seem to be working out, I still had plenty of time to adjust or discard those things that just didn’t seem to fit.
Another “learning experience” I highly recommend is planning a trip in October to visit a college that uses your new system. Contact one of the assistants to see when it would be a good time to visit and watch a couple of practices. Most college programs are glad to help out that early in the season and they even make assistants available to talk with you and answer questions.
Preparation for the next season should always begin with an Evaluation Process using information gathered from your staff and players. Deciding on changes to your Philosophy and Playing System follows the evaluation period. Planning how to implement those changes in your spring and summer workouts is the important third step to the start of a successful “next season.” Don’t get caught short in your preparation. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Keys to Preparing for Next Season:
1.Evaluate. Use your staff and players.
2. Decide on changes you want to put in place.
3. Study successful teams using your intended changes.
4. Read and view video on the new system or changes.
5. Plan to visit a college next fall that uses the new system.
6. Prepare a team training schedule for Spring and Summer.
7. Plan the first team meeting to explain goals and changes for next season.
8. Decide on Summer tournaments, camps, leagues and schedule them.
9. Print, email, text a copy of the off season schedule to parents and players.