Before last season, Andre Noble sat down with his staff to make a clear list of goals for his team. The head coach at Imhotep High School in Pennsylvania, Noble took a number of things into consideration, including previous experiences, conversations with college coaches and the data from previous years.
The staff ended up with six clear-cut, game-to-game goals they believed would prove to be the difference in winning and losing. As the Panthers ripped through opponent after opponent, the staff’s objectives proved to be spot on.
Imhotep rolled to a 31-2 record and claimed the state title to end on a 22-game winning streak. The lone on-court loss (a disqualification cost the Panthers their second defeat) came because they accomplished just one of their six goals. The Panthers finished second in MaxPreps end-of-season national rankings.
“Every time we hit all six, we won by 20 points every time,” Noble said. “For me, it was great to let us know when we were on point and when we weren’t.”
We caught up with the coach of the state champs to determine how to set goals, Hudl’s tools to win.and use
Noble places a high priority on Imhotep’s goals, and there are consequences if his standards aren’t met. If the Panthers fail to reach four goals, they can expect some extra running in the next practice.
“That made it more real for our team,” Noble said. “Generally, students are not attracted by numbers and analytics. We put it in our incentive package to say, ‘If we reach our goals, this is what we’re going to do.’”
But Noble believes it’s vitally important to incentivize positive performance as well as punishing the negative. If Imhotep hits four or more goals in a game, he praises the team. Should they keep that streak up for multiple contests, the Panthers can expect some kind of reward, such as a pizza party.
“When they did a great job, we tried to do something that they like too, so they’re buying in,” Noble said. “They’re not only trying to avoid a negative response. It’s positive reinforcement.”
Congrats to my guys! Great team. Was fun tonight seeing them get their State Chip rings. Much deserved! pic.twitter.com/50Pco8oBOw— Andre Noble (@BroAndre78) June 16, 2017
Identify the Right Numbers
It serves little purpose to create goals if you don’t identify what’s really important. So follow Noble’s path and work hard to identify the numbers that truly matter for your team.
It’s important to recognize what your team is good at. Imhotep is traditionally solid in the defense and rebounding categories, so Noble’s goals centered around those stats.
And don’t simply trust your own knowledge. Access outside sources, whether that be fellow coaches at the high school level or those coaching in college. The more information you have, the better chance you have at making the right decisions.
One pro tip: consider using percentages over raw counting stats. Traditional statistics don’t take pace of play into account, and that can skew the numbers. Turning to stats such as rebounding percentage and turnover percentage give a more accurate view of performance versus counting stats.
“I think the percentages are more effective because if the number of shots is high or low in a game, it can really skew the number of offensive or defensive rebounds,” Noble said. “Those are better determined by how many possessions there are and how fast the game is played.”
Let Hudl Do the Work
Setting goals for one’s team is nothing new—coaches have been doing that since sports first came into existence. But now coaches have the ability to simply set their goals, then kick back, put their feet up and watch the results roll in.
You can set either comparative or numerical goals and Hudl will keep track of the numbers.
“It took me a couple of seconds. It was perfect," Noble said. "Previously we had data, but then we had to translate the data to determine if we reached our goal. This was an easier way.”
With the season approaching, it’s time to evaluate what your team does well and what it needs to improve, two factors that will help you set the right goals.