Evalauting your Season


Most will first look at their wins and losses to evaluate their team's season. But, really there's more to it than outcomes alone. Think back to the days that you played sport. What was important to you?

What's really important?

Did the kids have fun?  
Did the kids get better?
Did the team mesh well socially and tactically?

Research shows that for most kids these are an indicator of a successful season.   
What Makes Sports Fun - [Podcast]

What did/do players want to accomplish?

Ask players how the season went for them? Don't take "Good" for an answer. Ask them specifically what? Why?
Did they have goals or aims for this season?

What was missing?

Were there things you were unable to do?
Do you wish you'd provided more player feedback, team building or finishing activities?
If so, what got in the way?

What would you change?

Things to think about...
Feedback and instruction - Would you like to be less direct and prescriptive and more patient?
Field layout and organization - Would you like to transition between activities more quickly?
Team Management and Organization - More consistent communications.
Mentorship - How well did you connect with players?

Style of Play?

Would you like your team to play with more intensity?
Would you like your team to maintain better possession?
Create more chances?

Follow-up by writing down what you feel would give you the best chance of improving and sustaining these changes.

What can you do now?

Are there things you can squeeze in now?  
-Team-building activities
-Player Feedback and surveys?

       Remember, 'Fitting it all in' is an impossible challenge. Time is finite. The process of organizing a team is constant adjustment and execution of priorities. Look at the time you have available for planning and execution and select the areas that you believe will give you the best chance of achieving your goals.




Demonstrating Leadership on the Field

As a coach, your influence will carry on with players far passed this fall season. You are a leader, an educator and a mentor. Above all, you are an example to players and parents of what is acceptable within a sporting environment. No coach does a perfect job of this all of the time, but it's our job to strive for better, ignore the things we can't control and stay focused.   


Be aware of the message.
Kids take away a lot more than we intend. Your emotions and language  during the run of training and games can greatly influence a players emotional state for better or for worse. 

Create Security.
Have you established an understanding with each player that you are there to help them grow?
Players will perform differently depending on whether they think you like them or not. An erratic or explosive response to an error made on the field or a referee's call will affect how safe a player feels in the sports environment. 

Creating Belief.
Encourage players to perform tasks at a higher level that where they are performing currently. 
Show them that they can do it. When they've achieved a certain amount of consistency praise it. Let them feel successful before tackling the next challenge. 

Establishing Confidence
Dr. Dan Friegeng proposed that confidence comes from a successful history.  It's a feeling that they are prepared for a task and can handle it because they been successful in the past. When players are lacking confidence, give them small tasks they can achieve and build to tougher tasks.   

Lead the Team: Let the team perform the culture.

Code of Conduct.
Establish how teammates need to treat each other. How do you want players to respond to an error made by a teammate?
How will the team deal with a physical opponent?
How can players create or restore belief and confidence in each other?
How will the team including the coach and parents deal with a loss? 

These are all scenarios we can plan for. But without mentally rehearsing these scenarios we're leaving the response and reaction to chance.


Paint the big picture for parents. Make sure they know/understand your philosophy so that your responses don't come as a shock. Parents first and foremost need to know their player is safe and that you, the coach, have their player's best interests at heart. 


In the grand scheme, working towards mental toughness and objectivity will pay off for players. Players will continue to thrive, regardless of obstacles, athletic or academic or social in nature. 


Player Feedback

Player Feedback

It's about Frequency and Context

Small digestible bits of feedback delivered every month or few weeks will keep players from becoming overwhelmed and allow them to improve one step at a time.  What can you tie in from the weeks game or training? Can you tie in what a player's motivations or goals are? What piece of those things can you work on together?
Keep it simple. If you were to be asked how a player was doing, how would you respond?

Template for written player feedback:

Hi [name of player]: A quick note with some feedback to help you continue to grow.
[Share one thing that the player is doing well and improving on - try to be specific]
[Share one thing you'd like them to concentrate on or work toward - give them a reachable goal]
Thank you and I'm happy to discuss more if you want at the next practice.

“Kai, Outstanding job at the game on Saturday. You’ve done a good job of keeping the width on the right wing when we’re in possession. This week, remember that not all crosses need to come from the endline. Let's work on lifting our heads to see if there is an opportunity for an early cross.”


Developing Further Insight

How important is feedback for players? That largely depends on what drives that player to play in the first place. It can be a tricky question because it changes from player to player. Tastes for their preferred mode of play changes too. It's as frequent of a change as their preferred genre of music or youtube videos.

Sometimes they play for play's sake. Other times they're playing to win. Playing not to lose. Sometimes players play to get better. 
In most cases, when players are asked the question, "why do you play soccer?", they respond with the words "to get better", "to have fun", all while looking at your facial expression to gauge what is an appropriate answer.  So, How can we determine what really drives them? Here are some ways to gauge what a player's interests are and what drives them to play. 

Humble inquiry

Take a genuine interest in who they are. What other activities are they a part of? How was their day? What position do they enjoy? Make note of them. The answers to these questions may give you insight to what drives them to play. If we find out what's important to them, we are now positioned to help them with their goals. 

A Simple Conversation

Coach: "What is your favorite position?". 
Player: "Forward"
Coach: "Why forward?"
Player: "I like to score goals"
Coach: "Got it. What do you think would help you score more goals?"
Player: "Practice shooting."
Coach: "Cool. Here's how we can work on that..."


√ Where on the field does the player gravitate?
√ What role do they play naturally?
√ Do they juggle or wrestle before practice starts?
√ Are they more interested in playing or more interested in social interaction?

Such information can be immensely valuable to coaches. It can be used to further motivate a player, reframe subjects for better understanding. We can stop fighting gravity and leverage their primary drivers for the good of their development and the team. 


√ Don't wait til the season's end to give feedback to players. They could be getting better now.  
√ Small pieces of information given frequently will have a greater impact than a huge comprehensive evaluation.
√ Give examples of the good things they're doing at trainings and games.
√ Give actionable feedback. What is in their control to do, work on or practice at home. 
√ Show them that you care.