We are wrapping up our fall sports seasons all across the U.S. This can be a time of great excitement and anticipation, as teams prepare for post-season tournaments with dreams and goals of an eventual state championship.
However, it can also be a time of sadness for coaches and athletes alike, especially if the season didn’t go the way you had all hoped it would back in August.
So much of how we feel about it is based on the results we have attained.
Late in a season we sometimes play the “coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’” game and wonder what might have been had we done things differently.
Or we look back and think how glad we are that we chose to do things the way we did them, for they produced many of the results we desired when we started our seasons a couple of months ago.
When reflecting on a season, one key area for coaches to focus on is impact. What kind of an impact did you have on your kids and your teams?
As you come to the end of your season and you look back on all that happened, can you say that you helped create an experience for your kids that was worthwhile and significant?
What will your seniors look back on and say their final experience playing in your program was like?
What can you do with your teams in the future to ensure that they will always remember their time with you in the best way possible?
What Can You Do Now?
While there is not too much you can do at this point in your season to create an entire season’s worth of significant moments of impact, you can still do some things to help your kids make the last days and weeks special.
First, focus on doing just that. Help them to have the end of their season be a special time by focusing on creating that for them right now. Of course, scoreboard success will help with this, but scoreboard success is something you don’t have complete control over.
What you do have control over are your practice and game preparation, your focus on character and sportsmanship, and how you treat your kids.
Prepare for your final practices and games in a manner that keeps things fresh for your players, while maximizing your time and all that you have put in this year. For practice, try running new drills that work the skills you most want to have them prepared for. Mix things up compared to what you have been doing all season. For games, this is the time to “let them play.” You have taught and worked with them all season to be able to perform and compete at a high level at this time of year.
While you want to keep things fresh, don’t overload them with too many new things. At the same time, though, this is also a great time to throw in a new wrinkle or two in order to have some extra “arrows in the quiver” and to help them feel like they have an advantage over their opponents.
Also, make sure you continue to emphasize good character and sportsmanship. Just because the stakes are higher doesn’t mean you can slack off on being accountable to your standards at this time.
In fact, it is precisely in more pressure-packed, emotional moments that you need to be your best selves. Coaches often talk about wanting to “play our best at the end of the year”; we should also be our best when it comes to character and sportsmanship.
Finally, make sure you continue to work to provide your kids a great experience. By changing up a couple routines and focusing on keeping things fresh, you will help create an environment that has them wanting to come back for more. If you don’t have games until the weekend, consider giving them Monday off, or make it a day for watching game film and having a pizza party. Then get back to practice on Tuesday-Thursday.
Stay Positive and Understanding
You should also keep treating kids in the most positive way possible. Check in with them and make sure they are feeling good about the final push to the end. Keep them motivated and excited to be part of the program.
Inspirational messages and quotes can continue to provide great insight and meaning. Help them see the light at the end of the tunnel is near, and it is time to make the absolute most of their time together.
Remember that your seniors are going through some emotions that the other players are not dealing with, so help them to navigate through the end of their high school career in your sport.
Every year that I have coached high school teams, I have told my seniors to “pack every moment with everything you have because you won’t believe how quickly it is going to go. Make sure you finish it the way you started it—by giving everything you have to your team and to the experience. You want to make sure you can look back on the season and say, ‘I’m so glad I did …,’ instead of ‘I wish I would have…’”
Before you know it, your season will be over. What are you doing to make the most of your last weeks together with your team?
Leave a comment below and let us know the types of things you are doing to close out your season with your teams that help make it memorable.
** End-of-Season Banquets are happening soon. I wrote my booklet, Senior Salute, for coaches and parents to give to their senior athletes at their End-of-Season Banquets. It has seven team themes that have been prevalent in their athletic lives and will be part of their future lives: Character/Integrity, Trust, Passion, Toughness, Accountability, Teamwork, and Success. There are numerous quotes supporting each theme, and the inside front cover is set up for you to write a personal note to your senior athlete.
I am in the process of expanding the booklet into a larger book. The new book will be out later this year, and the price of it will be going up at that time. However, I still have about 25 of the older booklets in stock. I am running a Closeout Special on those. Normally, they cost $6.99 each, but right now, you can get Senior Salute for just $5.00 each or a 10-pack for $45.00, plus shipping! They won’t last long at that price, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Click here now to be taken to the Shop page to place your order.