5 tips to consider as we enter the offseasonErick Streelman
Thanks again for being a subscriber and for reading every week. It means a lot to me.
It’s been a grind. It’s been a challenge. It’s been really fun. For a lot of us, the season is over and it’s time to start thinking about the next, and maybe the most important piece, of our program: The offseason.
A few of you are still playing…good luck and keep it rolling!
But, for everyone that is moving to the next phase of the calendar, I wanted to give you a few tips that I have found useful over the years.
Please remember, a lot of the stuff that I believe is simply a result of trial and error. I tried it and I liked it. Or, more likely, I tried it and didn’t like it so I moved away from it.
Anyway, here are a few tips that might help you as you transition to next year
#1 – CONDUCT EXIT INTERVIEWS
In a perfect world, we would have the time and the opportunity to conduct an exit interview with every single player in the program. If you can make this work, I definitely recommend it. But, I think it is important that you at least find the time to interview the seniors. Ask them what they liked about the program. Ask them what they would change. Ask them about their position coach. Ask them about their favorite memories. Most of all, just let them know that you care about them and that even though they won’t suit up again, they will always matter to you, they will always be an important piece of the program, they will always be loved.
If we never take the time to talk to our guys, we may build a program that we think enhances student experience without actually having the data to back it up. Remember, kids aren’t like us. Their priorities are different. Their tastes and preferences are different. Their perceptions are different. Interview your guys so that you can build a program kids want to be a part of.
#2 – INTERVIEW YOUR STAFF
I think it is important that our assistant coaches have a chance to express their views on the season. Most assistant coaches are great soldiers and go along with the vision no matter what internal conflict or frustration may exist. But, we can learn so much by listening to what our assistant coaches have to say. Ask them what they liked about the season. Ask them what frustrated them. Ask them if they plan to come back next year or if they would like to have a different role. Ask them if they want to be a head coach or a coordinator in the future. Ask them if there is anything they would have done differently. Ask them how they plan to improve as a coach in the offseason.
You can also use this meeting to suggest courses of improvement, areas that need to be addressed, or to suggest that a different role might benefit the program. But, I think the majority of the meeting should be the assistant coach talking and the head coach or coordinator listening. That’s how we learn. We have to listen to other people to gain real perspective.
Unless there is a moral conduct issue or a commitment issue, I have never fired an assistant coach after the season. I may move guys around or put them on the JV or Freshman staff, but if you can find a guy that is committed and willing to learn, you can find a spot for him. No one is beyond improvement and a willing hand can be an asset.
I think these meetings should happen within a week of the season’s conclusion, while everything is fresh in everyone’s mind.
#3- GIVE EVERYONE SOME TIME OFF
I’ll start this one with a story…
When I got my first head coaching job, I negotiated a “0” period weight training class as part of my teaching load. I knew that the football guys needed to lift year round and I knew that adding a “0” period before school would allow every single kid to sign up for the class without creating conflicts with other electives or other sports. The benefits to this class are obvious. I saw my guys all year. We got bigger and stronger and faster. We didn’t create conflicts with other sports or force kids to choose between offseason training and winter or spring sports. There was a lot to like about 0 period.
The biggest negative to this class was November – February. Because it was a class, the kids were getting a grade for being there. And because it was part of my load, I was getting paid to be there. So, we had to come every morning, even in November and December and January. I did not have the option of giving everyone some much needed time off. Long story short…I burned my kids out. It felt like there was no offseason. It felt like the season was 12 months long.
Kids need time off. After the grind of the season, give your kids and your staff and yourself, some time away from each other and away from the film room and the weight room. Give them enough time off so they are excited to come back.
Moreover…you need some time off! Spend a few months just being a teacher and husband and father. There is plenty of time to get ready for next year. Take some time!
When you start to think about what are you going to do between February and June, I think you need to be really strategic. If you are interested in building an efficient and streamlined offseason program, check out this weight room video series.
Remember that at Win With The Pass student experience is always central. We want kids to play baseball and run track and star in the play or the musical. We never want kids to be forced into a choice between a great high school memory and the offseason football program. So, when you build your offseason program, try to remember that kids are busy and if you expect them to be in the weight room at 3pm everyday, there is something else that they own’t be able to do.
With that in mind, it is important that you build an offseason program that is efficient and streamlined. Be fast, be efficient, plan it out. Your guys need to clean and squat and bench and run. Figure out how to build a program that stresses these essentials but doesn’t come at the cost of spring sports, academics, or other extracurriculars.
- First of all, you have to build a comprehensive program with clear objectives. We would never go into the season without a clear offensive or defensive system. But, so many of us go into the offseason without a plan. We just create workouts on the fly…2 sets of this, 4 sets of this, etc. This is not good enough. Plan. Set objectives. Then execute. Here’s an example of an efficient system.
- If there is a way to work with your PE department and make sure that most or all of your guys are in a strength and conditioning class, then your job is done for you. Then, you just have to make sure that your PE teachers have a program that stresses clean, bench, squat, etc. This is the best plan. It’s kind of the college model…turn the guys over to another expert in the offseason and let him get your guys ready for you. I know that this is a pipe dream for some of us because we don’t have a PE program that is accessible or that has a teacher that really knows how to motivate and train athletes. Do not fret, there are other options. If you can’t do #1, then…
- Work with the spring coaches and sell them on the importance of the weight room for their team and their program. This way, if you do have to run your football offseason program after school, your guys can still play a spring sport without falling too far behind. If they are getting a workout a couple days a week with their baseball team, then at least they won’t be too prone to injury once football starts. I know that some spring coaches are pretty resistant to collaboration. Work with them. Be flexible. But, if this doesn’t work, then…
- Start a 0 period class. While I would never again push for a year round 0 period class because of the grind of November -February, having an early morning class or club in the Spring can be really effective. Guys can work out and still play Spring sports and it fits with everyone’s schedule. Plus, it’s kind of a badge of honor if you can get your kids to actually buy into the idea.
#5 – LEARN AND RELEARN!
No one is beyond learning in the offseason. Even if you went 13-0 and won the state championship, next year you will have different kids with different skills. You will play different opponents that attack you in different ways. We all need to keep learning.
When I first started this website, I hoped that’s what I could offer. There are a lot of great websites and great resources out there. You can go to clinics, buy books, join membership sites, and buy DVD series.
I hope that Win With The Pass can be a piece of that process.
Go back and read all of the blog posts. Go through all three of the playbooks and really dive into the concepts of the quick game, drop back game, screen game, and run game. Check out the weight room series and the installation guide.
Hopefully I have provided some value and you can use these resources to your benefit this offseason.
In that light, I want to announce something very exciting.
I have recently begun work on our next product, an online course that teaches the major concepts in the offense. A lot of subscribers have been asking for this and I think it’s time to make it happen…Win With The Pass: A Complete Guide to the Air Raid. This product is still in it’s infancy, but the goal is to provide a quick and easy course with several 3-5 minute modules that explore various pieces of this offense, including videos, cut-ups, and Q &A. My goal is to have this product ready for you by the end of January, as you start to plan and transition for next season. I am really excited about being able to play a small part in your off season learning process.
Anyway, more to come on that. I’m pumped about the idea!
Try to remember that no matter what you accomplished this year, every year is unique. If you went 13-0, you need to avoid complacency. If you were 2-11, you need to figure out how to get kids excited and reengaged. Every year is unique. Use this offseason to learn, rest, learn some more, and get your kids ready for next year. It’s a clean slate. Enjoy the process!
Thanks again for reading guys! Keep Chucking It!