The off-season is SEPARATION SEASON! Take a look at which areas Team FastModel coaches are aiming to improve and how this summer.
Welcome to the 2021 off-season, aka Separation Season – where coaches are made. As coaches, we demand our players improve between the final game of last season and the first practice of the next. Thus, we should hold ourselves accountable to the same standard.
There are so many important aspects to the job of a successful coach, both on and off the court. One certainly can’t make any true progress without having a narrow focus, so lock into one or just a few things that you believe will benefit you, your players or your program the most for next season.
The off-season can make or break a coach as the work put in this summer will come to light next season. Ensure you are on the right side of the coin!
Tips For Off-Season Coaching Development
Make a plan, write it down, break it into smaller actionable items you can tackle one at a time. And grab a buddy to keep both yourselves accountable!
Many coaches may be familiar with the SMART goal setting system, but it’s worth a reminder because it works! Read more about SMART goal setting here.
- Specific – make goals strategic and narrow for more effective planning
- Measurable – define what evidence will prove you’re making progress, reevaluate when necessary
- Achievable – make sure the goal can be reasonably accomplished within a certain timeline
- Relevant – goals should align with values and long term objectives
- Time–Bound – set a realistic, ambitions end date for task prioritization and motivation
There are so many areas of coaching one can focus on. Don’t try to learn them all, but ere are just a few categories to consider:
- Press Offense / Defense
- Small Sided Games / Drills
- End Of Game Situations
- BLOB / SLOB
- Princeton Offense
- Zone Offense / Defense
- Matchup Zone
- Transition Offense / Defense
- 1-4 High Alignment
- Building Team Culture
- Developing Relationships With Players
- Developing Coaching Staff
- Player Development System
- Strength & Conditioning
- Community Outreach
Some coaches have the philosophy of strengthening a weakness, whereas others take the approach of making a strength even stronger. Who knows, maybe the press offense you study this summer will pay dividends during the playoffs in Winter 2022.
See what our coach contributors are working on this off-season below. We hope this gets coaches everywhere thinking about what they’re going to improve this summer. Hit us up on Twitter to let us know your plan and see how we can help you become the best coach you can be!
Invest in yourself, your players and your program this off-season – you won’t regret it.
Use promo code SAVE10 for a special discount.
Team FastModel Coaches Off-Season Development Plans & Goals
[Click on a coach’s name to view their Playbank page.]
Matt Monroe, Saint Ignatius College Prep (Chicago, IL)
Each off-season is a tremendous opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Every March, I reflect on our season and examine the strengths and weaknesses of our program and myself as coach. Upon reflection, I set goals for our program and for me to improve upon going into the next season. This year’s off-season projects include continuing to nurture our program’s culture in a positive way, putting together a late game situation handbook (using much of what is in the FMS Playbank), refining our offensive and defensive systems to fit our player’s strengths, and coming up with ways we can further empower our players to lead in our program, among other things.
One of my early mentors in coaching, the late Steve Pappas, always said, “The moment you stop growing as a coach is when it’s time to find another profession.” I couldn’t agree more. As coaches, we are so lucky to be in a profession where so many of our peers are willing to share their knowledge and there is such an abundance of resources available to study. It is our responsibility to enter each new season having done everything we can in the off-season to be the best versions of ourselves for all of the players we are so lucky to coach.
Randy Sherman, Radius Athletics
We have dubbed the Summer of 2021 as #5outsummer! As such, I am helping many coaches make the move to and gain a deeper understanding of various forms of 5-Out offense. My hope is to add several new RAMP Gold Medal Members interested in 5-Out. I will be creating a series of Playbooks that will detail my own 5-Out Early Offense creation. I also plan to create lots of YouTube content to support #5outsummer featuring various college and NBA teams. I’d also love to top 5K YouTube subscribers!
As always, I will be connecting with RAMP Gold Medal Members to help them with summer workout ideas, film review, statistical analysis and talking through whatever offensive and defensive ideas they want my feedback on.
Tony Miller and I will also be continuing The #HoopsForum, our live show we do together on most Fridays. This summer we’ll be tackling many of the cognitive biases I have written about for FastModel. The goal: help coaches become top-notch decision makers!
Our guys’ season was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, so “off-season” has a totally new meaning for me. Now that some restrictions have been lifted, we are able to meet with prospective players this summer, however there’s a limit of 15 individuals in the gym at a time. This is quite an obstacle developing a program with Varsity and Junior Varsity teams.
My first order of business and area for growth is going to be communication. Now I don’t mean expressing myself clearly and listening carefully, but that does matter. What I mean by that is, expressing our goals as a program, our concern for the well-being of our players, our grasp of where we feel our guys are in development, and constantly following that up with feedback on how to get from here to there. Sometimes it’s going to mean conducting an effective film session on Zoom, but mostly it’s going to be about wellness checks for student athletes. Many of them are experiencing anxiety over some of the missed opportunities of a pandemic year.
Roberto Fois, Barking Abbey London Lions (London, England)
Let’s start saying that i do not believe in the off-season, at least as a coach. When my game season is over, I’m already thinking to the next one, the next step, the next improvement. But, you have to learn from your past mistakes first, and this is what I’m going to do during this summer.
I want to narrow my focus only on 1-2 aspects of our lovely game, without being greedy like last summer where I was trying to learn 500 things at the same time. I’d like to try to better understand when and how to use certain defensive systems, such as Matchups and Zones.
I also aim to improve my video scouting skills, trying to share ideas and opinions with other, more prestigious coaches. Sharing and connecting is a must for everyone during summer and I cannot wait to expand my network. I’ve promised to myself that I will be more consistent in this, so please if you want to share basketball ideas do not hesitate to message me on Twitter @CoachFois – the pleasure will be mine.
And of course I will try to produce much more content and ideas for FastModel, a great tool for everyone, for sharing and for personal improvement. I will be adding many of the Playbank diagrams to my videos on YouTube as well.
Last, but not least, let me tell you that when I will be back in my hometown in Italy I will not have only the “Dolce Vita” or “the sweet life” in English. I will spend some quality hours reading books that I can use when I will be back in the gym. Right now there are two main candidates, both highly recommended: “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konnikova and “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle.
As the legendary Denzel Washington has said:” Keep moving, Keep growing, Keep learning. See you at work.”
Matt Wheeler, Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, FL)
Every off-season I’m always looking to add something new to my study list. Usually that list gets super long as I can get distracted by wanting to study everything, and I’m not able to deep dive into a specific area like I want to. This year one of my goals is to keep it simple.
Like I always do, I will be looking at college and professional teams to try to pick up some new plays and actions that I like. I’m committed to helping FastModel meet its goal of 10,000 plays in the Playbank by contributing 50 of my new favorites this summer. I’ve also become fascinated with the use of ghost screens over the last few years and I want to find some more ways to incorporate them on the offensive end.
I started out my coaching career focusing on skill development and I want to circle back this summer to renew my focus on that. My goal is to revisit my philosophies on footwork, finishing at the rim, and utilizing ball screens. I will do this by studying specific NBA and WNBA players to analyze what really works and why. I also plan on meeting with different coaches and watching clinics to learn what they teach on these subjects as well.
In a typical year I spend the first month or two after the season conducting deep dives into our statistics and game film. I’m looking into what worked, what we struggled with, and developing a plan of how we’ll improve going into the next year. Earlier this Spring I detailed some of those deep dives in a blog post titled Off-Season Studies to Improve Your Program. Because there is no off-season coaching in Massachusetts, our off-seasons are longer than most. With that extended time in the Summer and Fall I typically find time to read books that I’m interested in or researching topics I am curious about for the upcoming season.
This has not been a typical year though. Having had our 2020-21 season cancelled we are now entering month 16 with no basketball activity. At this point I am about as far past the saturation point with new ideas that a coach could possibly be. For the past few months, and for the rest of this off-season, my plan has been to simply deepen my knowledge in what we do and limit my curiosity into what else is out there.
There are a number of ways in which I have been doing this:
- Rewriting blog posts that I have previously written
- Idea of looking “In” rather than “New”
- Written “remastered” series on Transition Offense, & 2-3 Zone already
- Cutting game film to find the best examples of teaching points
- Organized these clips on my YouTube Channel for easy access
- Creating “Deep Dive” pages on my website
- Limiting the coaching clinics I attend
- Only ones that deepen my knowledge in what we do
- Creating content on Twitter that I can reuse with my own program
A couple years back, our program made the switch to move towards conceptual offense. Our primary focus has been in the half court with our Pace & Space Offense. The next step is to expand that idea to our transition offense as well.
Mike Neighbors’ Functionally Fast Offense has been a great resource for my study this off-season. Here’s a quick break down of the terminology and positioning:
At first glance, there’s nothing special about running your players to a 4-out, 1-in formation. However, Coach Neighbors’ ability to teach decision making and thought progression within the offense has been a huge help. Things also flow perfectly into our 4-out, 1-in Pace & Space Offense, and there’s even overlap in player movement within in the two styles.
Over the course of the next three months, I’m planning to share some more resources (podcasts, breakdowns, videos, etc.) via my email newsletter. So be sure to sign up for that if you haven’t already!
This time of the year is my favorite time for both coach and player development. As a high school coach in Texas we now get to work with our student-athletes during the summer for a limited amount of time. This allows us as coaches to dive deeper into our player development blueprint, stay more connected with our players through the summer months and have a laser focus on developing the individual skills that will help our players thrive. Our ultimate goal is to dial in on our player absolutes and enhance each of our players’ (from grades 7-12) solution-finding and decision making abilities through the use of small sided games.
Andrew Lacey, Head Coach, Richard Bland College (VA)
The off-season is the first and most important step in the process of building a championship level program. Championships are truly won in the off season.
Just as with the pre-season and season, I prepare a plan of action for the off-season. During this time I specifically look for ways to grow personally and professionally. It starts roughly a month after our final team meeting of the season. Generally speaking, it’s a brain dump of everything that was learned and noted during the season.
I reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of our program, as well as myself as a coach. Upon reflection, I set goals for our program and for myself to improve upon going into the next season.
My goals for each off-season are the following:
- Get the right people on the bus (team)…academics, skill, behavior
- Get them in the right seats (positions)
- Get the wrong people off the bus…I will remove mediocre people from the bus (program)
These thoughts and goals drive every decision that I make during each and every off-season.
My advice to others: Learn the right things, go to the right places, meet the right people, respect the right time, prepare the right message, be great where you are in your role, be who you are and evaluate if that’s getting you to your next level.
Everyday matters – not so much what you know, but what you bring everyday.
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