In the midst of the clinic season, coach’s minds start churning, with the anticipation of the season. There is a lot of information that is being collected and individual studying going on, but how can we keep this productive and meaningful for the team? Staff meetings are great in the off-season, and most teams do them.
What constitutes a productive meeting? What should we be talking about during them? Who should be present at these meetings? These are great questions to address before you even set up the first meeting. The following are some helpful tips on having productive off-season meetings.
Set up a Schedule. Find a time frame that works for that side of the ball, offensively or defensively. It may not always be possible to get everyone. Family time is important to be cognizant of. Our season is demanding so we need to keep time for our families and watching our kid’s activities. Some coaches are coaching other sports, and will be busy in the spring. But everyone wants to get better. With all of this in mid, have a kick off meeting to summarize something from last year, such as third down conversions, then with everyone there plan out the off-season meeting schedule. They can be as frequent or infrequent as your team deems necessary. With coaching input you can plan around activities to make this work.
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish will determine how much of the staff needs to be there. Tweaking route concepts for your passing game may not be beneficial to have the whole staff. This can be done in a smaller groups. There may be value in small group meetings and bringing the information to the rest of the defensive or offensive staff. Do not meet just to meet. Time is too valuable and we want our coaches to look forward to each assembly. Make sure it will benefit all who attend.
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Plan the Meetings. Once the schedule for the meetings is somewhat set, develop a plan for what each meeting will be about. The first meeting can be a brainstorming session. Bring ideas to the table from the clinic season. Throw information on the wall and see what sticks. Hash out what may fit your scheme. Try to get this done in one meeting if possible so you can move forward. Then move to the nuts and bolts of why you are meeting. The content of the meetings has to be deliberate to ensure they are productive.
Install Sessions. If the kids learn from the coaches and we, as coaches deliver information to them, we need to meet about that information. Start with a typical install. Go in-depth with it so each position coach knows this implicitly. Our job is to be the experts on our scheme. Each year we find we have room to improve, but to our players we have to be the experts. Offensively, set up meetings similar to your summer or fall install. Go in the same order. If you are going to have a 4 day install, mimic that with your off-season meetings. Go in the same order and cover the same plays. The meetings will take longer than the install, but every coach should be on the same page at the end of each meeting. The goal would be to have every coach be able to teach the scheme to every kid, and to have every kid be able to go home and explain it to their mom or dad.
Practice Sessions. Setting up practice is also a greet topic for this time of year. Review what worked and what didn’t. If you had trouble with ball security last year, this will be a great time to get some new or more drills involved in the practice plan. Is it structured to allow enough time for a good tackling circuit? Do we get enough 7 on 7? Do we get enough situational football built into our practice? If a team never practices coming out from inside its own 5 yard line, that situation will be foreign in a game. Your players will be able to help plan these practices. Whether directly or indirectly. You can use the players input to do drills they like and think help them and you can use last year’s film to see what really needs improvement. Either way your players have an impact on the plan.
RELATED CONTENT: Clinic Season... Have a Plan!
Keep on the Agenda. Time is of the essence and there is no reason to waste it. Make sure just like taking the team on the practice field, that there is a plan. If you are going to do a defensive install, do a defensive install. Don’t get caught up in a depth chart or something that wasn’t planned for.
Bonding. These meetings are a great way to prep for the season, but it also adds to the team building comradery. When we preach culture and team building to our players, this is where it starts. In the great football movie, Remember the Titans, Julius says to Bertier, “Attitude reflects leadership.” When a staff is close and demonstrates what it looks like to be a team, the players will model that. Try not to make this all about football. While the staff is together set up a non-football time to get together and do something fun, like an escape room. This will help the off-season bonding and is what we strive for with our players.
Use these tactics to be productive in developing your staff with off-season meetings. Continue to raise the bar in your programs. Best of luck to all.
Terry Donovan is a Master Trainer for USA Football’s Heads Up Football program. He is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks and B backs coach for Kasson-Mantorville High School in Kasson, Minnesota. He has coached with the U.S. National Team Program. He is also a youth coach and Director of Youth Development in the Kasson-Mantorville Youth Football Association.