Now for the nitty-gritty — use goals based on data to know how you compare to your opponents, and whether your team’s performance is improving game-to-game.

“Every good [team] has goals. Not talking about winning a championship. Maybe it’s limiting possessions. Maybe it’s rebounding. It’s those stats or those goals.” - Farron Evans, Gardner-Edgerton High School girls' basketball coach

Every coach knows goals are a key part of the job. To lead your team, you have to know how you compare to your opponents, not to mention whether your team’s performance is improving from game-to-game. Goals will help you do that. And because the stats never lie, it’s best if those goals are based on data.

Our first exercise got your coaching staff thinking about the most important stats for your team. In exercise two, your team aligned on attainable percentages and stats. Now it’s time to dive into the goals themselves. In this exercise, you’ll set them with your team. After all, your athletes are the ones on the hardwood—it’s critical they’re included in the conversation.


Coaches and Athletes


45-60 min


Goals for success worksheet and sticky notes or a whiteboard. Pretty much anything to write on. Go wild.

Step One: Introduce the key stats for the season. 

In our first exercise, your coaching staff decided on the stats that matter most to your team. Ring a bell? Relay them to your team and explain why your staff chose them. If one of them was steals, you could share the saying, “Offense wins games, defense wins championships”. Whatever the reasoning, stress the importance of the stat and why tracking it will make a difference.

Step Two: Get their input. 

Have each athlete set a percentage or numerical goal for each of your team’s key stats. They can use sticky notes or a notes app on their phone. Wherever kids write things these days, that’ll work. They just need to be able to refer back to it in the next step.

Step Three: Discuss and finalize team goals. 

It’s time to open up the floor. Let the captains of your team lead the group in a discussion to decide the final number or percentage for each stat. (If your team doesn’t have set captains, have the seniors lead the discussion.)

Step Four: Decide how you’re going to meet them. 

Once your team decides on 3-5 goals (or more if you’re feeling ambitious) it’s time to discuss how you’ll reach them (and write them on the goals for success worksheet). This is where the planning happens. Here’s an example—say one of your goals is to get 35 rebounds per game. It won’t happen if you just say, “Be more aggressive.” There need to be tangible ways you’ll become a better rebounding team.

Example: How We’ll Get More Rebounds

  1. Encounter more opportunities for offensive rebounds by running to the front of the basket on your fast break (the defense won’t be in position to rebound yet).
  2. During dribble penetration, follow your teammate to the rim so you can be there if they miss. In this instance, the defense usually collapses on the drive and they forget to box out. This’ll lead to more offensive rebounds and points.
  3. Make contact before your opponent so you’ll be control of what happens and ensure leverage. Anticipate and always be first to give yourself the edge.
  4. Start moving as the shooter is uncoiling (on both ends of the floor). If you react quicker, you’ll improve your anticipation and get more rebounds. As the shooter is uncoiling, start the contact by boxing out.
  5. Great rebounders go for the ball no matter what—there’s no such thing as, “It was out of my reach.” And we’ll practice drills to enforce that.

Step Five: Create a motto. 

Break your athletes into groups of 2-3 and give them ten minutes to come up with short, catchy phrases they can use to remember your team goals.

For the 35 rebounds per game, no matter what would be a great way to remember it. So if you’re nowhere near your rebound goal when you walk into the locker room at halftime, all you have to say is, “No matter what.” That will hit home.

What's next?

Your entire team should now be on the same page when it comes to the goals they’re working towards this season. And if they forget, those mantras will remind them. This exercise is extra valuable because it scales from preseason practice into your first game—and beyond.