The Last Softball Game
Today we are going to talk about what to do now that your last game of the season has been played. What do the players do? How do you transition now into the next season.
Now lets talk about what happens after your last game of the season. You’ve been working all year from your first try out or selection camp until now to make the team the best they can be. Lots of practices, games and tournaments have kept you busy for months. The planning, phone calls, individual meetings with parents and players, rainouts, travelling and replenishing equipment for 2016 is all done. Now what do you do.
One of the first things you might want to consider doing is as a coach is finding out how your players feel about the way their season went? Maybe a questionnaire that they fill out will give you some insight into their perception of the season. The success of each player on the team is based on their own individual goals, because those are the only thing they have control over in softball. The team goals are set as a group, and are dependent on your facilitation of their process as their coach, and the dedication of the entire team. Any individual should be assessing their season based on their contribution to the team goals, based on their individual goals relating to the overall objectives. Wow, that was sort of complicated. I encourage you to talk to each player individually and get their input about their successes on the team in relation to the objectives.
One of the ways to evaluate the progress of the team for the season is to look at your game stats, and even your practice stats to see how the team improved their technical and tactical skills during the season. Score books are the best way to do a simple analysis. There is no shortage of cell phone applications that keep stats as well, which many coaches are already using. And of course there is always a parent that is stat crazy who tracks every pitch and at bat of every game. I used to like compiling a full analysis of the season for as many aspects of the game as I could. That would tell me if what we were doing was working and what I might have wanted to change. Compare them to the objectives you set out at the beginning of the season.
If you are looking at wins and losses, look at the stats with them, rather than only the wins and losses. Look at the performances of the team in the games they were supposed to win. The results will tell you if your team was maybe tired if during those games the team didn’t perform to their expectations. Look at the schedule and see how many tournaments or competitions they had compared to the number of practices or training sessions. It is not uncommon to be playing 2-3 times more games than practices. This can be a tremendous source of fatigue not only physically, but mentally as well which can diminish the athlete and the teams ability to perform at their best at the end of the season. If this happened, it is something to learn from. It might be an idea to look at your preliminary schedule for next season, and consider lessening the number of games and tournaments if your team was tired.
Another thing to look at is your team’s chemistry or culture. How did everyone get along. This is something you might also want to discuss with each player when you talk to them about their season. If you have a good rapport with your team, they will have no hesitation sharing their thoughts with you about the good things and any concerns they might have.
If you are returning as a coach with the same team next year, it is time to reflect on the season and ponder on what you might do differently. What were the team goals at the beginning of the season and were they accomplished or did you accomplish some of them? What was the procedure for monitoring the goals. Were their goals for the team AND for you as a coach? It’s easy to forget that we as coaches also need to monitor our performance and to establish goals for how we coach and lead our teams. Goals such as how we interact with them, how we work with umpires and how we continue to grow our knowledge of the game and our abilities as a leader. By establishing your own goals, you will continue to develop as a coach which will benefit your team and keep you enjoying the position.
After the last game of the season there needs to be time for recovery, regeneration and reflection on the season. What you do with that is going to determine to some degree how the team walks away from the season and how the next season will unfold. In my opinion, simply saying “see you in the fall” is missing an opportunity to close off the season with as much information as you can to start the next season. Most teams have a team windup, however adding some information gathering and an opportunity for players to share their thoughts on the season will strengthen the feeling of ownership by players while participating in the building of the coming years.