Typically the end of season means a well earned rest, some time with family and then an end of season review.
Every team does some kind of season reflection or review – in most cases motivated by one or more “P” – Performance, Politics, Pressure.
- The Performance Review: is one motivated by a drive to improve the performance of the team – players, coaches and staff – for next season.
By far the most effective review is one that is deliberately and strategically placed in the team’s ‘performance cycle’ each year and is embraced by coaches, players, staff, management and committee as being an important and positive aspect of progressive performance from season to season.
The Performance Cycle: The review is a key part to the overall performance cycle of a team.
Every team – every club – every coach – every player – is seeking one thing, sustained competitiveness and the ability to be competitive year after year after year.
A well structured review process ensures that by systematically reviewing and evaluating all aspects of performance, the opportunity to sustain competitiveness is integrated into the culture of the club.
Here are some tips to help make this year’s review a recipe for success for next season!
Review with next year in mind – don’t waste time looking back at previous mishaps or frustrations
Reviews can make people very nervous and many coaches and players see it as a negative process. A well planned and well implemented review can be THE most critical element of planning for the next season and is an opportunity to move forward. It can be one of the most positive and productive times of the year. It is the time when feedback can be given and received with real positive energy and enthusiasm.
Don’t waste the review time by looking back and micro-analysing every aspect of every game, tackles missed in game one etc. This has all been done through the season. Use the ‘Review’ as a ‘Preview’: use it as an opportunity to get your best people together and work co-operatively and honestly to improve next season.
Benchmark against the best, whoever and wherever they may be
All sports are close communities and secrets do not stay secrets for long. Football can be a very closed environment, therefore teams need to look outside of your sport for possibly the best solution or differing perspective.
If you were looking to improve the individualisation of player’s preparation, the answer might lie in one of the Olympic sports. If you were looking to improve on field endurance, the answer might lie in AFL or Rugby league. If you were looking to improve player leadership skills, the answer might lie in the corporate sector, business community or even politics. Once you have identified the problems, look for the best solutions.
Keep the things that you do well, change the things that aren’t working – 10% rule
One of the biggest mistakes teams make at review time is to throw everything out and start again. Most clubs do far more right than they do wrong. How many times do you focus or acknowledge on success?
Build on the things that work well and change or eliminate the things that don’t. Try to adopt this simple three step review process of each area:
- What do we do that works? – What should we keep doing?
- What do we do that doesn’t work? – What do we do that we should stop doing?
- What are things that we can introduce that will positively impact on performance? What should we start doing?
Be Systematic: Look at everything: little things can make a big difference
At the beginning of the review process, write down a list of everything in your program that can make a difference. The easiest way to do this is to ask each person – coaches, physio’s, committee, managers, parents and assistant to review their own performance using the Keep, Stop, Start method and to highlight the key factors of their specialist areas.
Aim to make everything subject to a genuine 360 review process, i.e.
- Each person reviews their own performance
- Each person is reviewed by their peers
- Each person is reviewed by their immediate report, i.e. the person they report to
- Each person is reviewed by the people who report to them
Start with a philosophy or identity: If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
With the review process comes a flood of ideas, innovations, new technologies, new supplements, gym equipment and gimmicks. Everyone will have great ideas and new products that will “guarantee” success next year.
Start the review process with your football and coaching philosophy – in simple terms you coaching approach and football approach or identity. This keeps you grounded and keeps you focused on improving the right things. The process starts with understanding what you are about as a team and club.
Ask yourself three questions:
- What do we stand for? Who are we? This will help you clearly identify what it is about the team and the club culture that is unique, special and worth keeping.
- What are things we do well that will sustain this culture?
- What do we need? Who can we recruit to add value to this culture?
The real trick in program reviews and strategic planning is deciding what not to do – finding new ideas is the easy part – finding out what will work and add genuine value to the team is the real art.
Get someone independent to help with the review process – take personalities, politics and emotions out of it.
Do it sooner rather than later. A season’s memories fade quickly
The ideal time to do a review is 1-2 weeks after the end of the season. Doing it immediately is often a bad idea as there is too much emotion, fatigue for it to be effective. Waiting until after players and staff have a long break over months is less than ideal as the accuracy of memories can fade quickly at the end of the season and a lot of detail forgotten.
If you have to change personnel. Do it soon.
Sometimes reviews come up with a solution that results in the need to change coaches, players, staff or management. If this happens, make the changes quickly – fairly, honestly, with integrity and compassion, but quickly. The outgoing people need time to find new opportunities before the next season and the new personnel need the maximum possible time together to form an effective team and to provide the best possible performance environment for the team to succeed. To maintain relationships, could you support players, parents and/or coaches finding their next new environment?
The aim of the review process is to ensure that the rate of acceleration of improvement in your team is greater than that of your opposition.
Everyone is improving – it is the rate of improvement that is the key issue.
The aim is to progress at a faster rate than your opposition, and to do this means you have to be:
- Honest – about where you are now
- Clear – about where you want to go
- Committed – to getting there faster than anyone else
- Consistent – in doing the things that will make the difference better than anyone else, everyday.
- A review is a positive, constructive opportunity to improve performance sustain competitiveness and progress from season to season.
- It should be systematically planned and scheduled into the overall performance cycle each year.
- Keep it simple – look at it through a simple Keep Doing, Stop Doing, Start Doing perspective.
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – a well thought out, intelligent 10% change in key areas is usually enough to significantly improve performance.