Building a strategy for the new season

By Kevin Hoffman, Editorial Director

Various studies conducted over the years conclude that simply picking up a pen and writing down your goals make you several times more likely to achieve them. So why not take the time to put ink to the tasks you hope to accomplish in the short and long term?

Your involvement with an AAU program takes a hefty time commitment — practices, games, travel, fundraising. That doesn’t include your personal efforts to improve as a coach, program director and mentor to the dozens of athletes who trust you to lead them.

With tipoff to the new season on the horizon, this is your opportunity to develop a strategy and outline your vision for the program. Decisions like your starting lineup and postseason banquet can wait, but you now have the time to implement new defensive or offensive schemes, coordinate responsibilities with your coaching staff and determine how you will raise enough revenue to participate in the desired number of tournaments.

Here are a few areas you should give close attention as you begin to prep for upcoming AAU season:

1Organize a preseason planning session. This meeting should consist of all your staff, and the time can be used for anyone to discuss new ideas and concerns. It’s also an opportunity for you to divide responsibilities among the group and get your assistants excited about the upcoming year.

Consider it an open discussion and welcome all feedback. It’s imperative that everyone lay their cards on the table, making it clear where they stand and what they’re hoping to accomplish during the season. If you had a postseason meeting the prior year, rehash some of the topics that surfaced during that discussion. What can you do to improve or maintain your current level of play? What didn’t work last year, and how can we effectively address those issues this time? What elements of the game should we emphasize during practice, and how can we translate that into the game?

These are all questions you should pose to the staff, and don’t conclude the meeting until all topics have been addressed.

2Explore and schedule fundraisers. It’s possible — especially for programs near large cities — that you can participate in a number of competitive tournaments at relatively low costs, but many organizations don’t have that luxury. If you want to test your squad against the best teams out there, you need to establish enough revenue to meet the growing expenses associated with travel, accommodations and registration fees.

If you have an annual fundraiser that raises thousands of dollars, you likely didn’t create it overnight. These are important events that require precise planning and advertising to bring in as much revenue as possible. Carry this conversation into your planning session. Determine what you want to do, how you’re going to do it and delegate responsibilities. If you don’t give this the attention it deserves, it’ll show to your stakeholders, so whether it’s a golf outing or a midseason pasta dinner at a local restaurant, plan and organize. It’ll pay dividends.

3Make your purchasing decisions. Review your inventory, and decide whether it’s time to invest in new jerseys, basketballs or training equipment. Because it’s after the holidays, prices might decline slightly before they spike again during the spring, so you’ll do yourself a favor by investing in equipment and apparel now. Even if you don’t need new gear, it’s good to know where you stand and get into the habit of tracking your assets. You want your team looking sharp and using equipment that’s not 20 years old. It’s a positive sign for parents, players and fans.

Regardless of your ambitions, program size or level of success, the planning must start now because once the season gets rolling, you may not have time for much else.

You can do it. And it starts by picking up a pen.