Preparing your team for next season after losing a playoff bid

October 31, 2018 / CoachingFootball
{Sponsored} There’s a sense of finality and mourning after the last game of the season, whether it’s because the team didn’t make the playoffs or because they lost in the postseason. Players might cry or let emotions get away from them – especially seniors who will never put on your school’s uniform again. Part of being a successful coach is being able to turn this sorrow into a fiery bit of motivation for doing even better next year.

Keeping chins up and motivation high: One way to alleviate a situation where players are feeling down is to announce some of the best performers who aren’t graduating — especially if they’re players you’ve identified as your positional leaders for next year. Other ways to do this are by figuring out a good send-off for graduating players and setting intentions for a better season next year. Turning around these negative feelings can make or break next season. If coaches do not address how players feel after that final game, players may feel defeated going into the following season.

Personnel changes: When your best QB graduates, it can really feel like there’s a hole in your lineup. If you’ve been working your underclassmen and JV team well, you already know who might be able to fill that starter role. While thanking the seniors for their years of hard work, take the time to discuss the up-and-comers as well. Perhaps give the graduates the honor of announcing the names of the player or players who could be the next starter for their position. Be sure to discuss this with the seniors first so there aren’t any surprises. You may be surprised to know that your stars pay attention to younger players, and they may have excellent insights into who might be the best for their former jobs.

Coaching staff adjustments: Work with your coaching staff to ensure things that maybe didn’t go as smoothly as planned are addressed right away while the season is fresh in everyone’s minds. If you are able to begin staff team-building exercises right away, this will provide opportunities for friendships to be forged or rekindled even if coaches aren’t together every single day. If you’re in the situation where you will be recruiting for a new staff member, let your staff weigh in on the type of person they’d like to see added and some strengths the new coach can bring to the table.

Saying goodbye to graduating seniors: Many athletic departments hold football awards banquets. Why not do team awards, too? This can be a way for the underclassmen to thank their teammates and mentors but can also serve as an excellent team-building exercise. Focusing on the success of the season helps change the momentum to gear up for next year.

Build out time for recovery: Many players will push through minor injuries towards the end of the season. For multi-sport athletes, their next sport play won’t start during playoffs. As head coach, it is imperative that you remind your players to take the time to recover from small strains and sprains and to get ready for their next sport or to start offseason workouts.

Workouts and nutritional modification to start right away: If players don’t have nagging injuries, they should keep up on the types of training they did throughout the season. Agility is important, and any exercise that will improve their flexibility and agility will help them avoid injury during the offseason, as well as prepare for next season. Don’t discount yoga or Pilates for this type of training.

While players need to continue the training momentum, they can also decrease the frequency of training to a few times a week to reduce the risk of being injured in the offseason.

As with during the season, players need to keep up their hydration and nutrition in the offseason. Since they won’t be working out as often, they typically need to cut calories. Their bodies won’t need the level of fuel reserves that they would during a grueling football season.

The football season can be stressful. Most teams don’t win it all, and once the last loss happens, it can be hard to redirect that outcome into preparation for next year. Try out these suggestions to handle a tough ending this season and get ahead of the game for next season.


© 2018 USA Football

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