Some programs do not give this topic the attention it deserves, post-game routines need to be addressed with the same sense of urgency as the pre-game routines. As a college head coach, I ensured these five phases of post-game breakdown were part of our routine after every game.
PHASE I: POST-GAME LOCKER ROOM MEETING
Briefly address the team in the locker room. I think the most important thing to remember here is that emotions run high after games (win or lose) so keep talks brief and about the team, not individuals. Another reason to keep these locker room talks short is because you are not prepared with data (stats or film) to support any notions you or your coaching staff may feel right after the contest.
PHASE II: STATISTICS BREAKDOWN
With accurate statistics, coaches are prepared to address the team. The first thing that I was interested in was if we met our scouting report goals. This usually consisted of three offensive and defensive goals our team needed to reach to achieve victory. I usually found that if our team met four of the six goals, we would be successful, although this was not an absolute (NOTE: Since these goals changed opponent-to-opponent it required focus by the coaches to emphasize our goals and focus by the players to execute the game plan).
In addition, we used the box scores that were available to us immediately following contests to prepare other analytics. We prepared plus/minus breakdown (Stat Crew now provides these numbers) and offensive and defensive efficiency numbers amongst other things to calculate our offensive and defensive points per possession. These numbers are especially helpful as the season progresses to accurately evaluate where you were, are and what your strengths and weaknesses may be.
PHASE III: FILM REVIEW
Although most college coaching staffs rotate scouts responsibilities, as the head coach I am always part of the post-game film breakdown along with the assistant that is responsible for the scout. All assistants are required to watch the game and take notes. As I watch the film, I am looking to have a good mix of positive/strengths and negative/weaknesses to show the team.
From a logistics standpoint, my goal is to keep the film session that I will present to the team around 15-20 minutes. Fifteen of those minutes will be concerned with the previous game (improvement) and the last five will be concerned with our next opponent (preparation).
Coaches should focus on the team goals and coaching philosophies/principles during film breakdown sessions to emphasize communication, trust and accountability. Game situations should also be discussed, as players will be faced with these sometimes challenging dilemmas. This technique helps to ensure players know what is expected of them from the coaching staff.
PHASE IV: COACHES MEETING
Whether we are on the road or at home, usually determines when we have our coaches meeting. I prefer to have coaches reflect on the game without any influence from other coaches, etc. and prepare personal notes with the use of statistics and film before we convene for our coaches meeting.
I tend to prefer to meet in the morning (if possible), which gives time for emotions to settle and a thoughtful perspective to be gained by the entire staff. The staff will then watch the clip tape that I have prepared. In addition, my coaches meetings always consist of discussing three aspects:
- Individual Player Performance (Production/Attitude/Effort)
- Team Performance (Gameplan/Philosophies/Goals/Efficiency)
Concerning individual player performance, players are evaluated by their overall play. That is, production, attitude and effort. In regards to team performance, how or if we carried out our game plan and general philosophies are addressed. We also determine if we successfully reached our goals (with statistics to support) and if we were efficient (with statistics to support) in doing so. Lastly, we are constantly asking, “How can we get better?” By asking this question it will allow us to prepare for our next practice, next opponent and give us a common goal each and every day.
PHASE V: TEAM FILM SESSION & DISCUSSION
It is in this forum that coaches will communicate and continue to teach their student-athletes regarding their last contest. Presenting statistics and film not only supports evaluation of the coaching staff but allows players to review themselves and their teammates, which will build an atmosphere of trust and accountability — Hallmarks of any championship program.
I think it is extremely important that coaches have a positive approach to film and keep team film sessions from turning into finger pointing sessions or complaining sessions. There are times that players need to be held accountable, but if you want your players to be positive and improve, do your best to stay enthusiastic and use this important time as a teaching tool, not a personal venting platform.
This meeting also serves as an outlet for players to voice any concerns/suggestions, etc. in a team setting. The opportunity to be heard reinforces the coaching staff’s respect for each individual team member.
Although these meetings do not need to be very long, they MUST give a sense of closure to the last contest.
It is also recommended to hold these meetings in a conference room or classroom to foster an atmosphere of learning. This meeting is an important and serious part of your program and it should be afforded this level of respect.
The post game breakdown is sometimes glossed over by coaching staffs as they turn their attention to their next opponent. Teams that have back-to-back games may have to augment this routine slightly to best fit their programs.
Nevertheless, the importance of having a systematic and effective way to look at the past is imperative if coaches want their programs to improve in the future. Head coaches should incorporate each aspect previously discussed into their post game routine.
Lastly, following through with a post game routine provides another forum for coaches to improve upon their leadership skills and it creates an environment where each person (coaches and players) are held accountable and allows every student-athlete the opportunity to express themselves, contribute and lead others.
Does your program have any additional post-game routines that you find is beneficial for your players and staff?
About Bert DeSalvo
Bert DeSalvo currently serves as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Southern CT State University. Prior to leading the SCSU program, DeSalvo was owner of Full Court Consulting, a firm which served a variety college and high school coaches throughout the country. DeSalvo also is a regular contributor on multiple blogs.
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