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Once a coach has evaluated a season and assessed the next team's skills, a sound plan must be developed to head into the crucial off-season. The saying, "Teams are made during the season but players are made during the off-season," is true, to a large extent. While it is important for next year's team to get used to playing together, it is vital that individual skills be practiced as well. For every inch of player improvement, the twelve-member team improves by a foot. Individual skill enhancement must not be neglected in the pursuit of team progress.
Each individual player should have an off-season workout plan. It should coincide with the assessment of their skills and be geared toward improving weaknesses and maintaining (or even enhancing) strengths. Each player should be trying to add something to his game during the off-season. Physical quickness, agility, and strength should also be a part of the program.
As a team, a sound philosophy with clear and consise goals must be developed. The philosophy must complement the players' skills and the goals should be in line with the philosophy, achievable, and also difficult to attain. Some examples:
1) You may not want to play an up-tempo style if your players aren't quick or athletic relative to your opponents.
2) If you have players who are good penetrators, ensure that you have opportunities in your offense to open up driving lanes.
3) A goal to make more free throws than your opponents shoot will be tough to attain if your offense is designed to take advantage of a good-shooting, perimeter-oriented squad. Field goal, rebound, assist, and turnover totals may be higher in a fast-paced game, so don't dwell on totals as much as percentages.
The tenets of your philosophy should be charted out on a calendar so that they are introduced, practiced, and mastered by specific dates. You may want to introduce things slowly and add parts of your offensive and defensive package as the spring, summer, and fall progress. About eighty-to-ninety percent of your total package should be in by the time the season starts; then, you can add a wrinkle or two as the season progresses.
Gauge the progress of your players and do not throw too many things at them. Allow them to master something before going on to another. If they just are not getting it, you may have to adjust and not try to do as much. Remember, it is better to do a few things well than several things average.