Sunday, January 6, 2013

Is your yearly plan almost ready for 2013?

By this time every year, I always had a yearly plan done.  This year feels weird because I have no team this summer.

I always took November and December off (minimum) but by the end of December I have indoor training space booked until March 31, tournaments planned, a rough budget set and calendar set up.  I don't take myself seriously, but I take what I do seriously.

When I offer advice to coaches I suggest:
  • Communicate with players before the end of the previous year.  You can tell them where you are in your planning, remind them of upcoming dates or just say Merry Christmas.  It shows them you are thinking of them and getting excited about getting started.
  • Book indoor space in local indoor facilities or gyms.
  • Contact and make informal arrangements with other teams for friendlies or joint training sessions.
  • Plan tournaments for summer and local hotels if traveling.
  • Set a budget for families and communicate this to them as early as possible.
  • In accordance with LTPD, your best training practices and what you've learned during the off-season, set your goals for the upcoming season.  Share your plan with assistants and friends and ensure it's realistic and appropriate for their level and age.
  • Plan possible dates for non-soccer team activities (pool party, BBQ, etc)
  • List volunteer positions to be filled by parents.
When you plan ahead, you have more co-operation from parents and players. It demonstrates that you are happy you are coaching the team and concerned enough that you want the season to run as smoothly as possible for the players.  It also demonstrates that the team is not a fly-by-night operation and you expect commitment in return from the people involved.  Sometimes planning ahead 8-10 months scares people because it makes them realize what a commitment coaching is, if done correctly.  But scaring people is not the purpose of planning.  If anything, it should ease the mind in the sense that it frees you to just coach after the work is done.

Make sure your plan:
  • Leaves opportunities for tweaking.  Revisit the plan on occasion and ask yourself tough questions about it's effectiveness.
  • Is presentable and organized so there is no misinterpretation.
  • Is presented in a meeting type of atmosphere and you are open for questions of clarification.
  • Is defensible by you in case anybody questions "why" or "how" with certain areas.
The hassle you put into planning up-front saves you a lot of time the rest of the season.  I know school teachers who know exactly what they are teaching on which day before a semester begins.  If you plan week-to-week and are flaky with your scheduling, players and parents see a casual program.  You will also cause yourself stress over attendance and facilities if you do not plan ahead.

Just as you plan, assess, adjust and reflect your sessions, so should you do the same with your yearly plan.