Is your team making the most of the offseason? Coach Stone offers a few tips on where to focus this summer.

Games aren’t won in season, they’re won during the offseason. And there are a lot of moving parts to oversee to be ready for an upcoming season. Here are a few things for coaches to focus on in the “off” months:

Collect all the equipment from players at each level.

  • Have equipment specialists determine what needs to be reconditioned or replaced for the upcoming season.
  • Take inventory so you know what to order.

Schedule time to talk with all your players to discuss how they think the season went, and what their personal and team goals are for next season.

  • Conduct exit interviews with your seniors.
  • Schedule college recruiter visits for players.
  • Talk to returning players about last season, the upcoming one and the addition of new team members.

Hold players accountable for their classwork throughout the whole school year, not just during season.

  • Keep using eligibility sheets from the season if they aren’t in another sport.
  • Make sure a study table is available either before or after school for the players that need it.
  • Keep open lines of communication with players’ teachers.

Set next season’s weightlifting times, dates and programs early so players know what’s coming.

  • Make sure all players can be there, unless they’re playing another sport or have school or work commitments. This helps players stay on track to reach their personal goals for the upcoming season.

Oversee the weight room to make sure players are improving in their lifts in a safe and secure environment.

  • Have the strength coach take attendance on a daily basis, and track what the players do to give them a visual incentive to improve.
  • Use the attendance sheet to stay in touch and connect with athletes in the offseason. It will also help you see which players are ready for the season.

Create and share the team’s spring and summer schedule.

  • This allows families to schedule vacations and time together.
  • Players can plan to attend camp and adjust their summer jobs around practices and weights.
  • Helps parents plan rides to and from practice and the weight room.

Renew your Hudl subscription.

  • Hudl is a vital communication tool for coaches and players. It allows players to review their games and see what they need to improve before the coach tells them.
  • Coaches can review games and see what areas need improvement.
  • Players, especially seniors, can create highlights to use when applying to college programs.

Assess your staff, from the head coach down to volunteers.  

  • Replace or move an assistant coach that didn’t do their job.
  • Find replacements for any assistant coaches who moved or left the program.

Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise

  • Nothing is free and some (if not all) equipment might need to be fixed or replaced to keep your players safe.
  • Fundraising is as simple or as complicated as you make it. Check out my full list of tips for a successful fundraiser.

Attend coaching clinics with your staff to learn new ways to be successful.

  • Either bring the clinic to your staff or take your staff to a clinic.
  • Knowledge is power and an effective coach never stops learning. 

Take time to support your players by going to see them participate in other sports or school activities.

  • The coaching staff will connect better with their players when they know they’re more than a number on the field.
  • This also lets the parents know that their child is in good hands.

These are just a few of the things coaches can do in the offseason to be better prepared for next year. Share what your team does to stay on track for the upcoming season with the hashtag #HudlOffseason.

Anthony Stone is a physical education teacher at Gregory Elementary School and quarterbacks coach at Boylan High School in Rockford, Ill.  He is also the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Women’s Australian National Outback 2017 Team & writes blogs for Firstdown Playbook.

In July 2016, he was named to the Hudl 100 list. He has presented at IAPHERD, the top physical education convention in Illinois, on how to get students moving with his Games Galore presentations. He has also presented at the Chicago Glazier Clinics on quarterbacks & special teams. He was the defensive coordinator for the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Tackle Football Team, winners of the IFAF Women’s World Championship in which Team USA did not allow a point in three games with an overall score of 201-0. Stone has coached in the CIFL and the IWFL Leagues as well as Beloit College (linebackers/special teams coordinator) and Rockford University (quarterbacks/wide receivers).

Stone has also coached football at the youth, middle school and high school level. He will be putting on fundamental youth football camps around the world in 2017. Please contact him to bring his “Back to the Basics Youth Football Camp” to a city near you.

Follow him on Twitter @Coach_Stone_MT.