March 26, 2018 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

Player surveys take your program forward

by Kevin Hoffman, Editorial Director

As the season draws to a close, a coaching staff’s first job is to assess how it wants to improve the program before next year. But you can’t do that without knowing your weaknesses.

Before players leave your gym, some for the last time, ask them to take a survey to gather their thoughts on the team. If you already do this, you’re on the path to improvement; if not, you’re missing a major opportunity.

There are few ways to effectively take the pulse of your program, and asking the players themselves might be the best. If you’re serious about making changes before next year, here are some topics to include in your survey.

  • Best/worst part about the program. Viewing the program through the players’ eyes can open an entirely new world to you and your assistants. Asking about their experiences tells you what might need to change, and what players truly value. There’s also enough ambiguity to let players determine what they might consider best versus worst. Are they inclined to talk about personalities and culture, or do they want to share their thoughts on strategy?
  • Team play. The coach ultimately determines what offense and defense the team deploys, but there’s no harm in asking players for their thoughts. Maybe they felt uncomfortable at their position, or they observed something from the floor that you didn’t see from the bench.
  • Culture. This is a big one, because the players are best suited to provide feedback on the team culture. A lot of times, coaches don’t see or hear what goes on behind the scenes, and the players’ thoughts could provide some insight on whether players bonded with one another.
  • Practices. Players must believe in what you’re doing to give a complete effort. If your practices focused on transition offense while players felt they needed to improve rebounding, they may have been too timid to say so at the time. Ask for feedback on how practices were structured and whether players felt adequately challenged.
  • Coaching staff. Connecting with your players is half the battle. Do they feel that you were genuinely invested in their improvement, or do they believe that you made an effort to bond with them off the court? Their thoughts could provide valuable insight that prompts you to adjust your approach moving forward.
  • What needs improvement, how would you do it? What would your players change about your program? This is a critical question, because if several players identify the same issue, you know exactly what must be addressed.

Make it clear to the players that these surveys are anonymous — that’s how you get honest feedback. I also suggest that you let them take these surveys home to ponder some of the questions. You could even set up the survey online.

Nobody says you need to commit to any of the recommended changes, but it’s food for thought. And if your staff takes just one idea from the player surveys, it’s safe to say the effort did its job in moving your program forward.

Kevin Hoffman is the editorial director for Winning Hoops. He can be reached via email at [email protected].