Friday, April 5, 2013

Eye On The Prize

Determining team goals and how you can reach them

One of the most important things for a team to do is setgoals.  They need to have something that they are working toward collectively. Working together for a common goal will bring them together as a team and a family and it may just teach them the importance of helping each other.  As a long time coach, I have seen teams work hard and reach goals and I have seen them fall short.  At the end of the day the important piece was how hard they worked and what they learned.  Here are a list of team goals that my teams have worked toward in the last few years:
  • Recruit more cheerleaders to the program
  • Do well at competition
  • Don’t drop any stunts during games
  • Know ALL game/performance material two weeks before the game/performance
  • Don’t lose any team members to grades or injury
  • Cheer for more sports than just Football and Basketball
  • No team drama
  • Full squad tumbling
  • Elite stunts before the first game

Some of the goals they accomplished and some they did not.  Some stay on the list year afteryear and some come and go based on the team. Each team is different and each team member should be directly involved in determining that seasons goals.  In order to accomplish a team goal, everyone on the team needs to agree on it. 

One question that I am asked by newer coaches is how to determine realistic team goals.  Most everyone can come up with a list of things we would “like” to accomplish in a set amount oftime, but determining which goals will be accomplished is more difficult.

At one of the earliest practices or summer meetings, I sit down with the team and discuss the previous year.  Get their opinions on what worked and what didn't.  Talk about everything from cheers and chants, stunts and performances, study hall, practice times, team rule expectations, everything.  Make lists or divide things into good and bad columns. For some of the things that they liked or felt that were good, see if there is something that you could do better. For instance, if your team accomplished not losing any team members the year before to poor grades, can we make it a goal this year that not only do wenot lose anyone, but that everyone on the team has a 3.0 GPA?

For the items on the bad list, determine how to move those things to the good list.  If your team was unsuccessful at promoting sporting events and games, you could make a goal that they make all signs and banners before the season starts, or get friends and family at every event they attend. If it is stunt related, determine why the stunt was not good and set a goal to work the skills and conditioning required to hit the stunt.

Other ways to find viable goals for your team is have them watch other teams or talk to other coaches and see what other schools do.  Look at the traditions of other squads.  There may be something that your team would like to incorporate.  You may see some crowd involvement cheers or dances that another school does with their crowd.  They might also have fundraisers or community service projects that your team would like to try. 

For performance-based goals, assign homework to the squad that they have to go online and find at least one new skill, dance or chant to try to incorporate into their skill set. As a coach, determine the skill level, and as they progress through the season have them attempt the skills they are ready for.

Once you have your list of 5-10 team goals (depending on season length).  Write them down andgive team members a copy.  Make a poster for your practice area so that they can see the goals at all times.  Once you have this list discuss with the team the steps you need to accomplish each goal.  Map it out and break it into smaller chunks.  This will help them to see progress and determine what they need to do individually to help the team achieve itsgoal.  Track your progress EVERYDAY.  Take time at the beginning and end of practice to discuss goal progress. Use a check list or make notes on your master sign.  Make sure that you acknowledge all progress in favor of a goal.  If a goal is completed, make a huge deal about it! Reward them with something fun and praise them for their hard work.  If the coach, the athletes and the families get involved then everyone is rewarded when a goal is completed.  Make the goal fun and make the reward worth earning and you will have great success.


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