Every season comes to an end, and there is that long pause before the next season begins. The next season seems so far away, but it is closer than you think. As time ticks by coaches dream about that first day. What will next year look like? How will players improve over the summer? How are we going to achieve that brass ring? We send our players off with instructions on how to get better before next season. We want each of our players to come back bigger, stronger, faster. We expect their decision-making to improve and their overall skill set to take a step forward before we coach them again. Then we wait….
We ask our players to train in the off-season, but do we as coaches train in the off-season? What are your plans before the season begins? My season ends around April 1 and begins in mid-August. I have big plans for the summer to fine tune my coaching. Here are 6 ways to improve yourself in the off-season.
Work at a Camp
Find a camp with good coaches, and you will be amazed what you will learn. I come back from camps with new ideas for training. I always find a few new drills. I get to see how coaches deliver their message to players. I listen to late night discussions with experienced coaches on philosophy. I get to pick their brain on coaching decisions, how to implement certain tactics or techniques. The double bonus is that I am getting paid while learning to become a better coach.
Attend a Clinic
The offseason is a great time to get to a clinic or two. Here you will find valuable information on practice planning, proper athlete development, use of film as a teaching tool, etc. There is always something valuable shared at a coaching clinic if you are paying attention. I won’t promise that it will be all gold, but there are nuggets in every one of them.
Find a Mentor
Contact a coach you admire, and ask to spend a day (or even a few hours) with them. Come prepared to ask questions and pick their brains on how they coach. These meetings could be the most beneficial because it is a 1-on-1 experience and the conversation can be driven by you.
Work on a Road Map for the Season
The off-season is a great time to map out your season and how you would like to approach your team. When are you going to implement certain pieces of the game. How will you incorporate skill development into your practice plans. When can you push your players harder? When do you need to back off? Every season comes with it’s curveballs, and as a coach it is your job to adapt to those. However, with a well planned roadmap, you will be much more prepared to handle the curve.
Read, Read, Read
Find a few good books on your sport. Find sport publications. Look up articles on the internet. You may not agree with what you read, but I guarantee that you will begin to formulate a plan on what you would like to do.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Whether you like to golf, spend time with your family and friends, fish, workout, find something to take your mind away from your sport. you will become more refreshed and ready for the grind that is looming in the future. Never stop learning, but start preparing yourself for the upcoming challenge.
There is something to be said for the off-season to be the OFF season. However, if you want to be good at your craft, you need to continuously sharpen the knife. Evolving as a coach takes work, and your players are counting on you to be the best coach you can be. The heart of the season does not lend much time for professional development opportunities because time is so limited. So take advantage of the time available and make yourself a better coach for your players. They will appreciate it.