Planning and Assessment a Priority

Author: Jim Schmutz, ASEP Executive Director

07/22/2009

As summer sports wind down and the fall season approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on coaching performance and how one measures success. Coaches should evaluate their efforts in several key areas, while program administrators should assess how effectively their coaches fulfill the priorities agreed upon and established collaboratively in the preseason. The best place for the coach to start is to gauge how well the coaching efforts adhered to the philosophy and season plan emphasized in the preseason team orientation meeting conducted before practices got underway.

Once established and explained to the parents and athletes, a philosophy serves as an integral compass that helps the coach navigate the many challenges that arise during the season. It also helps guide the season planning process that leads to clearly defined goals and objectives. In sharing the plan, it is essential to allow for feedback and discussion to ensure there is no confusion or dissension. Gaining commitment or “buy-in” from everyone involved in the program to its fundamental goals, objectives and team guidelines sets the stage for success.

The value of establishing the season plan cannot be overstated as it provides the basis for ongoing in-season and postseason evaluation. With the plan in place the coach, administrators, athletes and parents can confidently raise these basic questions in assessing the season:

  1. How effectively did the coach abide by the philosophy?
  2. Are the athletes in the program reflecting and benefiting from the philosophical approach?
  3. Was the philosophy undermined by any behaviors of athletes or parents? If yes, was the coach decisive in taking action to prevent further departures from the program’s desired direction?
  4. In what ways did the season plan work? Was the plan fluid, allowing appropriate adjustments to address deficiencies in the plan or unexpected circumstances that invariably surface during a season?
  5. Did the coach allow, if not encourage, feedback and input from other key stakeholders in the program in finalizing the plan? Did the coach continue to allow feedback during the course of the season?
  6. In what ways did the results of periodic performance assessments during the course of the season influence decision making, and were improvements made?
  7. Was the postseason evaluation accurate and helpful? Will it serve as an effective tool in preparing for the following season?
Yes, all this planning and analysis does take some time. But clearly the potential benefits are worth every minute.

A final note: Adopt and display a positive and receptive attitude about evaluating yourself and the program. You can bet that others—especially athletes and their parents—are watching everything you do and filing away everything you say. Your level of self-awareness and growth through the season, and the extent to which your approach reflects your stated philosophy influence your ability to achieve the goals and objectives set forth at the outset. Your approach will also provide an opportunity for athletes and parents to model your behavior. Be aware that it will also significantly influence how others assess and measure your success. The payback will come throughout the season not only in the performance of your athletes and team, but also the cooperation and support of parents. And you’ll feel a lot better about the job you’re doing, which is important given the sacrifices made to successfully coach and administer youth sport.

Let me know what you think. Does sharing your philosophy and season plan combined with a formal evaluation process have a positive impact on you and your program? And if you have any special methods or tools for planning and assessment that seem to work best for you, pass them along so that they can be shared with others.

Jim Schmutz
ASEP Executive Director

You can help continue the conversation by contacting me at JamesS@hkusa.com or by posting your comments at the Kinetically Speaking blog on the newly redesigned Human Kinetics Web site.