Measuring Coaching Success (Part 1): Reflections on a season past

Our team closed our season yesterday with pizza and ice cream, crowded around a TV in my house watching college basketball games. I made the obligatory coach’s speech before I handed the seniors a memento to remember their final season of basketball at our school. (A framed version of the quote above.)

We’ve had a week and a half since our final team meeting and practice, one in which we still had hopes of making the playoffs, only to be crushed a few hours later. We’ve tracked the success and defeat of other teams in the playoffs knowing that we could have, and in our minds should have been there. Our inconsistent season fell short of our expectations, and left us wanting for more.

Coaching season never really ends, because the end of one season is the start of the next. Maybe not physically at our level. Our offseason is limited, but even when you’re not with your team, you start to plan ahead – what team camp will we go to, what summer league, what offense will we run next year, what defense? It’s always in the back, or front, of your mind. And I’ve typically always enjoyed that part.

I can’t speak for every coach, but I’m assuming that most of us take at least a little time after the last game to answer the big question, “Was this season a success?” The problem is that success can be measured so many ways, but in sports, it’s typically through wins and losses. If coaches only judged success on winning, there is only one team and one coach that is ‘successful’ every season (the champions) and everyone else has failed. Yet, to judge success without considering winning seems antithetical to competitive sports.

Was this season a success? Is that even the right question? How do we define success? Can each team define it differently. After 5 seasons as a head coach, even the seasons that met preseason expectations left us thinking we could have done more. It makes me think I should start asking some different question – How does our team and our program define success? I’m going to attempt to measure our season, in different ways over these blog posts to see if I can come to a satisfying conclusion. Here are the criteria upon which a coach might try to measure success:

  • Winning
  • Improvement (team, individual, personal)
  • Living up to our core values
  • Relationships

So that’s where I will start, but feel free to let me know if there is some other measure I should consider and maybe I’ll add it to my list.

I don’t want to keep thinking that every season is a failure if we don’t exceed expectations. If I could find some way to define our season’s success, maybe it would help me answer those other questions better. Then again, maybe it won’t. Maybe we’re always just wanting more. Maybe that is the place of a coach. Maybe I’ll find out through this reflection. Maybe I won’t. If I’m lucky, I might have a few of you join me on the journey and share your thoughts as well.

Read Part 2: Winners and Losers




6 thoughts on “Measuring Coaching Success (Part 1): Reflections on a season past

  1. Love the 4 categories and think this is an awesome exercise. I used the same 4, with the addition of commitment level based on work ethic. Looking forward to how you dissect each of the numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

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