Pre-season is a perfect time where players and coaches get to know each other, personally and as a unit. While this process plays out, it is also where a coach sets goals and lays out the plans for achieving those goals. This can be an especially trying time because some goals can be difficult to achieve because you want to set your goals so that you have to work to achieve them, but you don’t want to set the goals so high that you end up failing before you even get out of the gate.
There are quite a few varieties of goals and expectations that a coach can set when he is mapping out his season during pre-season. One of the most common is record based goals. Improving past your previous seasons win totals, or even simply advancing to the playoffs. These types of goals when set properly can motivate a team to do better, but if the goals are set too high, they can smother a team and cause absolute failure. Coaches during pre-season will be able to get a feel for their team, and as such will be able to figure out the capability of the team, and the best ways to inspire it.
Winning and Losing is one of the most common changes from season to season, but another of these changes happens to be statistical improvements. Things like shooting a higher percentage of free throws, to sinking more 3 pointers, or improving the successful passing percentage. While all of these seem like small, mediocre things to the casual fan, even small improvements in each area can affect a team as a whole for the better. Missing fewer shots, passing the ball better with less interceptions or failed passes, and even just keeping the ball in an offensive capacity can open up the game for your team so much more.
While you don’t need to publicize what your pre-season expectations are, you as a coach need to be on the same page as your players. While you can set out a list of goals, you should also have players set a few individual goals that will inspire them on a personal level to get out there and be everything that they can be. Improving the individual components of the machine happens to be an effective overall method. Coaches need to also take the player input at all points during the season, even if the coach doesn’t agree with it, simply listening to a player can make that player feel as if their input is important and even if you don’t use or agree with their statements, communication is a two way road.
In the end it is up to the coach to set realistic goals and expectations that challenge the players and team as a whole, but at the same time are not impossible and so hard that they end up demoralizing the team. As long as you set the realistic goals, and work together as coach and team, you will attain them and grow together as a cohesive unit in the process!
Picture credit: UNCW Alumni • Creative Commons Attribution