Keys to a Successful Preseason

Preseason starts soon for coaches around the country. It’s an exciting time that most coaches have been preparing for and anticipating throughout the summer. So, in anticipation here are some keys to a successful preseason.

Know Your Goal for the Season. Then Don’t Focus On It:

I was listening to a podcast about a very successful mountain climber. Often mountain climbing is a team endeavor, even though people are meeting for the first time.  Everyone meets at base camp. The climber being interviewed was describing he is ability to predict on the first day who would actually summit the peak and who would not.

Those climbers who focused too much on the peak were destined to fail. Many early in the process.

Think about that.

It’s good to know where you want your team to go, but don’t focus on it.

Turn your attention instead to your plan, your process and your daily goals. Expect the grind. Be willing to work for it.

A coach should know her priorities and what she wants to accomplish during the preseason. (Hint: Implement style of play, create your defensive organization, begin creating a strong team culture).

  • How do you want your team to start your actual season? Is fresh important to you? Healthy? If so, take that into consideration in creating a preseason plan.
  • Does each player have the same or a different plan? They will start at different places.
  • What are the key milestones along the way this season?
  • Are there key games you need to be prepared for, and games that you want to train through?
  • Do you have times with too many games in too short a period of time?  Weeks with enough time to train?
  • Do you know how you want to use film to teach? The weight room? Individual sessions?

These are just a handful of the questions you are asking yourself as you prepare your keys to a successful preseason, and you plan out your entire season.

Efficient Training Sessions:

There is never enough time to do everything you want to do in preseason. This is just a fact. So try and plan efficient sessions that accomplish more than one thing at a time.

Can you work on fundamentals and also put decision making into one exercise.  Can you get fit while playing a game that deepens the team’s competitiveness, leadership and resilience? Could you teach your style of play in small sided games?

Don’t spend too much time just running. It’s inefficient, often less effective, might build mental strength, but does it build joy and love for the game?

Challenge yourself to efficiently tackle more than one thing at a time as one of the keys to a successful preseason.

Get to Know Your Athletes

Why do your athletes play the game? Some will play because of love of the game, others for fitness, others for social, others for competition, etc. What motivates each person? What challenges him? How can you be of help?

Getting to know these answers will allow you to coach them better. You will make fewer errors when communicating with them.

If you are concerned about who they are beyond the field or court, they will also be more connected to you, have more trust and be willing to take more leaps with you and the team.  This is an essential part of building your culture.

Set Your Standards

You need to hold your players accountable, for sure. But don’t skip the step where you clearly set forth your standards and expectations.

Clarity helps everyone.

Once you’re clear with your team then you must hold them to those standards. A culture in which peers hold one another accountable will be powerful, but not if the coach is absent in the process.

You must accept this role.

You can hold standards in a myriad of ways. It’s not just about discipline. The better you know your athletes the easier it will be to hold them accountable.

The more fun, competitive and challenging your training sessions are the less you will have to.

Stay Healthy

I mean you, coach, stay healthy. Take care of yourself. You are entering the preseason fresh, relatively fit and with high expectations. Great stuff.

Recently the LA Times did an article on the health scare of NBA coaches. The article acknowledged the intense stress of the job and some of the factors that contribute. Being aware can help remediate this, but it also requires a plan.

Remember, standing on a field is not exercise. Standing in a weight room is not exercise. Standing at the front of the classroom is not exercise. Despite the fact that all three can be tiring. How do you make sure you make time to do cardio for 30 minutes a day and lift a couple days a week? Put it on your calendar and honor the commitment even if it’s shorter than you intended. Do something. Exercise, it will give you energy.

A coach needs her rest. Set a time to get to bed regardless of what is on your agenda. Stick to the schedule and aim for 8 hours a night. 7 hours is your minimum.

Drink plenty or water, less soda, and no alcohol. It will make a huge difference in your hydration, your sleep and your energy levels.

You probably have thought a lot about what your athletes will be eating this preseason. That’s good. It means you will have healthy food available to you. Just don’t eat the same quantity as the players. Avoid desserts and unhealthy snacks.

Stay connected to close friends and family who are not a part of the sport. Just a few minutes a day will widen your perspective and add a different dimension to the preseason.

Good luck

Good luck with your preseasons coaches. It’s a fun and exciting time full of possibility. Stay fresh and healthy, create a great environment and I expect you and your athletes will find it a good launch to a great season.

keys to a successful preseason
Photo by wjarrettc